Monday, January 29, 2007

Wishlists, Gift Certificates, and Gift Giving in E-Commerce

Nielsen on usability issues with wish lists and gift certificates ...

"Although gift features leverage the online medium and draw new users to a site, they also introduce many usability pitfalls. Among them are poorly designed email notifications, which many users simply ignore.

Wishlists and gift certificates are the anti-pet-food of e-commerce. They don't require heavy shipping because they're a purely virtual phenomena. In fact, electronic wishlists and gift certificates are better than their physical-world equivalents because they can be transmitted instantaneously. Thus, e-certificates are the only gift that last-minute shoppers can buy and have delivered immediately -- a fact you should promote prominently on your homepage for all major gift-giving holidays.

Even better, wishlists and gift certificates are the ultimate in viral marketing because they are highly targeted and the recipient is highly motivated to use them. When you get a gift certificate to an e-commerce site, you're going visit it and shop there (and, quite often, you're going to spend more than the certificate's value). And, when your favorite niece tells you that her wishlist is on a certain e-commerce site, you're quite likely to go there and solve the mystery of what 13-year-old girls want.

If you're running a B2C site without wishlists and gift certificates, you're leaving millions on the table. Even if you have these features, you're almost certainly not using them to their full potential if your site is anything like those we tested.

(Note: I use the generic term "wishlist” here for any feature that lets users build a list of items that they'd like others to purchase for them. Wedding and baby-shower registries are common wishlists, as are birthday lists, but people create wishlists for many other occasions as well.)"    (Continued via Alertbox)    [Usability Resources]

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