Too much, too soon: Why ‘buy now’ can scare off your website customers
Sunday, August 18, 2013/
I was shopping for a bike the other day, went into the shop, and before I could even work out which bike did what, they were in my face asking me whether I wanted to buy it. Umm. No. Goodbye. Oh, by the way, did I forget to mention that the shop I was visiting was online?
Online visitors are people too
As a consumer it’s annoying when the business thinks it’s fine to jump on us as soon as we set foot in their store. We hate it in person, so why do businesses think it’s OK online? Your website customers are people too and subject to the same behavioural influences online and off.
The offending “Buy Now” bike website
One click or die is a lie
A misnomer about e-commerce is that everything has to be lightning fast – “one click” or die. Yes, it’s important to reduce friction for your customer and avoid redundant clicks, but expecting someone who hasn’t even looked at the product to “buy now” is simply too much, too soon. You’ve just replaced click friction with much more dangerous psychological friction.
“Buy now” is probably the scariest button a website can have (and making it red doesn’t help), increasing anxiety because you are asking for a level of commitment from your shopper. Contrast this with “Add to Cart” which signals moving toward the register but not getting your cash out just yet.
Are there exceptions? Possibly. I can make a case for an online perfume retailer, for example, because the product is likely to have been experienced offline first, so the shopper may be ready to buy immediately. But still, the action of “Buy Now” really just takes you to a shopping cart, so why not reduce anxiety and use “Add to Cart” instead?
Perfume retailer’s “Buy Now” just adds to cart
The Effort:Reward Equation
Underpinning the behaviour of your online customer is a simple equation: effort vs reward. What effort do I have to expend and what reward will I receive? A premature “Buy Now” creates anxiety, amplifying effort without providing sufficient answers about “What’s in it for me?” Beware the trap of too much, too soon because when effort is greater than the payoff you will most certainly lose the sale.
Bri Williams runs People Patterns Pty Ltd, a consultancy specialising in the application of behavioural economics to everyday business issues.