99% of my shopping occurs online, primarily from small companies and boutiques around the world. I love international shopping but the experience can be frustrating due to missing features and hidden information.
Here are 11 features every lingerie boutique needs to facilitate easy and pleasurable online transactions.
1. Allow customers to pay in their own currency
Shopping is an international affair these days, and it is most likely that your customers hail from many different countries. For ease of payment, allow customers to choose the currency they wish to pay for their purchase in.
Some customers prefer to pay in their own currency to avoid additional currency conversion charges by their bank, their credit card, and Paypal. Other customers may wish to pay in the ‘home’ currency of the boutique, especially if the boutique is not using real-time currency conversion.
2. Use real-time currency conversion
I have heard stories of how Myla and other brands have a huge price difference between currencies on the same item. I have seen this myself from brands such as What Katie Did and Agent Provocateur as well, where there can be up to a 25% difference depending on the currency you choose before you checkout.
Boutiques should use real-time currency conversion or have the conversion rate updated daily to reflect current market rates. Here, you can see the price different between a sale bra from Myla in USD and in GBP, and then I have compared those prices with the market exchange rate between the two currencies:
3. Have a link to the size chart beside the size selection menu
Size charts should not be buried in the FAQ or left as a text link at the bottom of your page. While repeat customers may know the size chart, new customers will need to consult it before making a purchase. Sticking a link to the size chart right beside the size selection menu is easy and a great way to create a fluid buying experience.
4. Make your website readable in multiple languages
Boutiques who wish to encourage an international audience should use a website translator. It is very difficult to purchase from a website that does not speak your language, thus the presence of translation software allowing you to read the website in your own language is imperative.
I have tried to order from a few French websites before, yet I left frustrated without buying as I could not understand anything except my own brain cells going “OMG this lingerie is pretty and I want”.
5. Make shipping costs clear and easy to find
In your shipping costs, be clear which carrier you use (like Fedex, UPS, USPS, DHL), whether tracking is included, and whether the customer may be subject to duty/customs.
Some countries have trade agreements, which can work to your advantage if the customer knows they will not be charged duty. For example: anything I, as a Canadian, buy from a US boutique that was made in the USA is duty-free. However, if I buy something made in another country from a US boutique, I may have to pay duty.
There is local shipping and there is international shipping. Local shipping rates are usually easy to find on a website, but international rates can be buried through many FAQ links or sometimes they are not even present. If your international shipping rates are not calculated at checkout, then make an easy to find international shipping page complete with costs for each country. Even if your international shipping rates are calculated at checkout, make sure to state this in a very obvious place.
I recommend sticking a [click here to calculate shipping] or [+ shipping] button right beside an item’s cost. This button or link will trigger a pop-up with shipping costs or open a new page (in a new tab) with shipping costs. Make it so easy for customers to find your shipping costs that they will not miss it.
6. Give the option to filter results by size
Whether your customer is using the search function or simply surfing the categories you have already made, allow them to filter the results by size. Have a list for all the sizes carried on your website including bra sizes, number sizes, and letter sizes if you use them.
You can either allow your customer to choose one or have check boxes so they can filter by more than one size like ASOS’ filter options. This is especially relevant when customers are shopping for sale items. It is onerous to click through into 30 different items to find none of them in stock in your size!
7. Clarify which country’s sizing you use on your website
It is imperative to clarify which size chart you use on your website. When it comes to bras, there are several different size charts not limited to UK, US, and EU sizing. Even if you do not give a conversion chart (but you really should), make sure you state which country’s sizing you are using.
Many customers will not realise they are buying a US sized bra from a UK based website and will therefore order the wrong size. This is equally important if you use dress sizes on your website. A seller may not realise they are buying a size 12 UK instead of a 12 US. Do not expect your customer to know the origin of the brand they are buying or the origin of your boutique. Do the work for them.
8. Give measurements instead of just dress sizes
Sizing on websites is a personal pet-peeve of mine that you will see me rant about time and time again. Dress size means nothing to the average customer as different brands have different measurements for the same ‘dress size’. A size 12 in one brand may not be the same size as a 12 in another brand.
If you are selling a size large pair of underwear, for example, say that it fits waists from “30 – 33″” and hips from “40 – 43″”. Not only will this aid your customers in their shopping, you increase the chances of having repeat buyers and happy customers because the items you sell fit them and they can buy with confidence knowing what size they need.
9. Make return policies easy to find
While no boutique likes returns, the policies that govern these returns should be very easy to find, not buried tabs deep in the FAQ section. I recommend a link from the front page of your boutique and every product page. Essentially, make your return policies no more than one click away from any product your customer may be looking at buying.
In addition, when an item is final sale, make that very clear on the product page. A bold ‘FINAL SALE’ – maybe even in red – should be around the same area as the price.
10. Allow guest checkout
It has come to my attention – during my recent forays into shopping – that guest checkout is becoming an endangered species. I highly recommend keeping guest checkout as some buyers can be quite deterred when required to make yet another account.
In addition, repeat purchases can also be thwarted when a customer cannot remember their password. I have personally ended up not placing an order because I could not remember which email/password combination my account was registered under.
11. Allow items to be sent as gifts
Lingerie makes a wonderful gift and giving lingerie to your lover, mother, or best friend should be encouraged! A gift option on your website is not just a luxury, but an essential feature in a boutique’s store. At minimum, this option should generate a gift receipt that does not display the price tag.
Allowing a message to be included with the gift and gift wrapping (or box) options are added niceties that, while not necessary, are appreciated when affordable.
What basic features do you want to see when shopping for lingerie online?