The Worst Shopping Experience I ever had Joomla & VitueMart

I’ve got to share this with you, I have seen, used, owned, altered, tweaked, abused and been through enough shopping carts now to spot a bad one, but this took the biscuit and ran away and ate the shop, it was that bad.

Lets set the scenario, my dad, far from being anywhere near internet savvy can just about brose the net and check his email. Any shopping cart system should be able to deal with customers of ALL abilities, n00b to pro-n00b. Oh and carp really like to eat pond weed.

After the shock that he had managed to surf the net and actually find what he wanted in the UK (honestly this is a testament to dads brute force methodology with the Internet) he found http://www.silverthorpe.co.uk and wrote down which plants he wanted for the pond, added them to the cart and then proceeded to spend two whole hours trying to buy them.

I get a call from my mum saying “dad wants some plants but he cannot buy them, he’s tried for hours”, fair enough I though, its only a shopping cart, cannot be that hard, right?

How wrong was I? This turned into an epic journey of determination to actually buy some pond weed. Below is the email I sent to them:

Hi,

I have just taken my father through the worst checkout system I have ever seen.

Can you please confirm that order number XYZ for [removed] has payment showing on it.

You may want to do the following:

1. get rid of vituemart drag drop/ that confused the heck out of him, I suspect your customer base is +40 they need simple function rather than feature.

2. remove the requirement of registration first and give a decent error message when they try and login without confirming the account

3. change the email address customers see from Silverthorpe1@btinternet.com to a @silverthorpe.co.uk as your btinternet email address is unprofessional and is instantly spammed by gmail (most likely due to domain miss matches)

4. And there is a issue with the logo you’re using in the paypal header, try going to through the shopping cart as a customer and go to paypal, every page there is a security warning because of it

5. Never known a single courier require someones middle name

6. The shipping options default to EU, although we set our country as United Kingdom

Thats the bulk of the issues, the major one is the registration and security warnings. Solve those and I suspect your site will convert from a sub 1% conversion ration, to a industry standard 2% (yes thats a 100% increase in conversion)

Sorry for rant, but it really was the worst I have ever seen.

Kind regards,

Matthew Ogborne

Fair do’s to them, the same day we receive a reply back; The email from ‘Mark Brereton’ or signed as Linda, read as follows:

Hi Matthew, yes order XYZ is confirmed and paid for. I take it you would like order YZX cancelled. Please accept my apologies for the difficulties you’ve experienced with our website. I am grateful for your comments and agree with what you’ve said. I hope to be able to solve these difficulties soon.
Kind regards
Linda

So you can tell we tried before and failed on a previous order and I suppose they agreed it was bad.

I did then start to feel sorry for them, it was ultra bad, so opened Chrome and started investigating. Afterall I was sure most of the stuff was only basic and would take no more than a few minutes searching & understanding. VirtueMart turned out not to be that bad, just poorly configured, the other items I replied with the following:

Hi Linda,

Many thanks for the confirmation.

I had a quick look through the VitueMart system, see here:
http://virtuemart.net/documentation/User_Manual/Administrator_Tutorial.html#Shop_Configuration

Under “User Registration Type” you have several options, you probably have yours set to Normal and I’d suggest you pick Optional or Silent, this does not force the account to be created and for the user to be logged **BEFORE** checking out.

Forcing registration is the #1 reason why shopping carts are abandoned, making it silent or optional is a strongly recommended.

The other issue at PayPal will be under Profile > Website Receiving Preferences > somewhere here or see http://help.yahoo.com/l/us/yahoo/smallbusiness/store/order/paypal/paypal-08.html

That’ll get rid of the security warning box, if they got through the registration, this would have put most people off.

Apologies if I was a little blunt yesterday, but it was the worst one I’ve been through ever. [removed] now get a 4% conversion ratio on checkouts, which is twice the standard and are always trying to make it as efficient as possible with what they have. If the sites front end was not so well designed (pretty, not functional) I’d have have continued with the order (showed money had been spent on its design).

Kind regards,

Matthew Ogborne

The pond weed turned up within a few days, dad was happy, the carp were happy, I did feel some warmth I had at least tried to help someone improve their site, even if it did come out of the worst checkout experience I had ever had.

I’d like to revisit their shopping cart at a later time to analyse in a more organised fashion, I checked a few minutes ago and its still just as bad, maybe I should email them this blog post… We’ll see. Either way, take a look for yourself, the site looks great, but some one got over zealous with design and forgot completely about form and function.

1 reply
  1. Sarah Topping
    Sarah Topping says:

    Matthew, can you look at our shopping cart, thankfully its not VirtueMart, its OsCommerce with some edits we made a long time ago, it could with some fresh eyes on it. I’ve emailed you the website and my contact details.

    Sarah xx

    Reply

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