Living with the Internet: Online shopping
Living with the Internet: Online shopping

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Living with the Internet: Online shopping

7.2 Difficulties in navigating e-commerce sites

People who are new to computing sometimes find the process of online ordering baffling and frustrating. They get 'lost' in the process – for example, by putting something into a virtual shopping cart and then remembering that there's something else they need to look for. So they return to the search engine or the catalogue and then can't find the cart. These kinds of commonly experienced difficulties can be addressed by good and adaptive site design, but still a disturbing proportion of e-commerce 'shopping carts' never make it to the checkout.

More worrying for most consumers is when they are mid-way through a transaction and their connection 'freezes'. They have clicked 'submit order' or 'confirm', the retail site replies that it is just checking their credit-card details and then the system stalls. Has the order gone through? If you repeat the process, will you wind up with two orders? How can you find out? I know someone who wanted to buy a fridge online, got caught by system crashes and wound up ordering six fridges! Fortunately, staff at the dispatch end guessed what had happened, telephoned the customer and the matter was clarified.

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