In the excitement of sales page copywriting, product creation, email campaign scheduling and partner outreach before a launch, the ‘boring’ details of your purchase and post-purchase process can often end up being an afterthought.
If you’re launching to a relatively small list, you can usually recover things pretty quickly with some manual intervention as soon as you realize that your eCommerce set up isn’t quite right.
If you’re launching to a larger list however, and the orders have already started flowing in, missed steps in your purchase process can lead to:
- Lost sales
- Confused or unhappy customers
- Hours upon hours of additional work for yourself or additional billable time for which you’re paying your team or assistant
- Unnecessary customer support time and expense
One of the most awesome things about running an online business is that the payment processing and product fulfillment happens automatically using online tools. You don’t need to hand each customer their order personally over a shop counter or in-person sales meeting. There is almost unlimited opportunity to scale if you have a product that’s worth talking about.
So make sure you’ve done your checks to really make the most of those online tools you’ve chosen to work with, and to be sure the customer experience is seamless.
Use this checklist to test the purchase process yourself, or hand it to your team member to take care of for you.
Step 1. Decide what method you’ll use to test your product purchase.
Here are the options you have available to you, depending on which eCommerce system and payment processor combination you’re using:
a) Use a dummy credit card number if possible, to purchase your own product just like your customer would, but without any amount being charged to your own credit card.
b) Create a coupon code inside your eCommerce system that you can use to purchase your own product for $0.
c) Temporarily reduce the price of your product to $1 inside your eCommerce system so that you can purchase the product on your own credit card. (Note: only use this option if your order form link (or shopping cart product listing) is not yet live anywhere on your website.)
d) Purchase the product with your own credit card at the standard price, then refund the transaction straight afterwards before your merchant account provider settles the transaction. (This isn’t ideal, but it’s doable if you personally are the business owner testing your own products with the ability to process an immediate refund.)
e) Temporarily switch to a test merchant account or payment gateway inside your eCommerce system. As a service provider supporting business owners, I’m personally not a fan of this approach as it will mean that any other real transactions that get processed while you are in test mode do not charge successfully. I find this method to be most relevant for when you are very first setting up a brand new eCommerce system that doesn’t yet have any products live and available for purchase on a website.
The eCommerce system that you use will usually have a helpful checklist to reference that’s specific to their system, but, they don’t always list out all the options available for different scenarios, hence the list above.
Do you use any of these eCommerce platforms listed below? You can click through on the relevant link to access the specific test purchase tutorials:
Step 2. Navigate the to the web page where your customer will click to purchase your product.
Check these elements on the sales page and linked order form or checkout page:
1) Are the order buttons on your sales page clickable? Sounds obvious right? But sometimes just a misplaced space or character can mean that the embedded order form links don’t lead straight through to the order form as expected.
2) If there is more than one order button on your sales page, do the buttons match up accurately with their respective order forms? That is, if you have two versions of your product, or two payment options (full pay and payment plan for example), are the sales page buttons that indicate those different options leading through to the right order form?
3) Does the price listed on in the copy of your sales page match the price on your order form once the customer clicks through? This is particularly important to check if you make use of promotions and discounts in your eCommerce system. A discount could still be listed on your product from a previous launch months earlier, or, the sales page may include an outdated price from before your product was updated/upgraded recently.
4) Does the styling on the order form match your current branding? If not, does the banner, logo, product image or color need to be updated?
5) Are there any form fields on your order form that are not set as required fields, but should be? Or vice versa?
6) Are all the payment options you were expecting to be available visible on the order form? That is, if you were expecting customers to have access to pay by credit card OR PayPal, can you see where they can select either option? If you were expecting customers to be able to toggle to a payment plan option, is that visible?
7) Is there a field to enter a coupon code visible on the order form? Should it be visible or hidden?
Step 3. Now go ahead and purchase your product to experience the payment process like a customer would.
Check these elements during and immediately after the purchase:
1) Does the transaction process successfully? (If not, that’s the first thing to troubleshoot!)
2) When you’ve processed the payment, are you immediately directed to the ‘thank you’ page? Are the details on the thank you page accurate for the specific product or service that your testing? Check the wording, branding, images, product delivery details and any links or contact details listed on this page. If there’s something that needs to be tweaked, log into the system where the page was created (WordPress or otherwise) or delegate out to the relevant team member for updating.
3) Check the email inbox for the email address you used during the test purchase. Have you received the ‘welcome email’ right away as expected? (otherwise referred to as a ‘confirmation email’) If there’s any delay in receiving it, check the cause and adjust as necessary.
4) Proofread the welcome email to ensure that all the product delivery details are accurate. This is particularly important if there are dates and times mentioned, membership login details, linked digital downloads or further instructions on how to access what the customer has just paid for. Also be sure to check the subject line of this email is still current.
5) Aside from the welcome email, did you receive a separate receipt or invoice email for the purchase? This may be generated by your eCommerce software or by your payment processor. If you didn’t receive a separate receipt but you were expecting to, it’s time to check your settings inside each of those systems to make sure you have receipt emails turned on. If you did receive it, is the subject line and branding okay?
6) If you are selling a digital download, click through to the product. Is it the most up to date version that your new customers will be accessing?
7) If you have login details to a membership site included in your welcome email, try logging in with the test details to make sure you’re able to get access successfully.
Step 4. Log in to your eCommerce and email marketing systems to make sure the transaction processed as expected.
Now in the final checks, it’s time to review from the ‘inside’ that all your system integrations and settings are functioning as expected. Here are the elements to take a quick peek at:
1) As a test customer, did your contact record get added to the correct email list, or alternatively, were the right ‘tags’ applied to indicate you just purchased this specific product?
2) If there is any follow up sequence of emails involved in this purchase, following the initial welcome/delivery email, is your contact waiting in the correct automation sequence to receive those successfully?
3) If the purchase includes access to a membership login area, was a password automatically generated and displaying in the password field of your test contact record? Was your test contact granted the expected ‘level’ or ‘type’ of membership related to access for this specific product?
4) If your test purchase is a physical product, was the fulfillment request email automatically sent to where it needs to go? That might be to you personally, another internal team member that ships products, or an external third party that is shipping the product on your behalf.
5) If your test purchase is a physical product that you are personally delivering, is the current inventory level number set accurately inside your eCommerce system so that you’ll know before you’re about to run out?
6) If there is an early bird or prelaunch discounted pricing offer on this product, will that discount expire automatically on the correct date, or do you need to set yourself a scheduled task to remove the discount manually inside your eCommerce system?
Step 5. You can now confidently hit the Send button to announce your product is available for purchase.
Aah sweet relief. Time to watch the orders roll in!
I know this list sounds like a lot of ground to cover, but you can get through it quite rapidly if you just put yourself in the mindset of your future customer, complete the purchase, and throughout the process just keep asking yourself the question: “does this look right?” each step of the way.
When you’re integrating multiple tools and collaborating with multiple team members, glitches can and frequently DO occur even if you’ve been paying attention to the details. But if you prioritize the purchase testing process right up there with your marketing funnel creation, then you’ll have any kinks ironed out well before they become costly or time intensive.