Probably the only page you really will not want to dispose from checkout at all. It offers an overview of all the products you chose, collects the billing and shipping details you provided and displays them alongside with the vendor’s business terms just before you finally place the order.
It’s a bit like putting everything in your basket onto the cashier’s conveyor while potentially realizing you missed something that wasn’t on you shopping list or that you must have left your wallet on the desk at home.
Online however, the review page also is the most reliable way to compare prices and shipping options. Usually you will love to save or print this, since as a customer this is your only chance to really document (and therefore prove afterwards) at which conditions the deal has originally been made, without having to rely on the seller’s order confirmation e-mail (if there should be any).
Unfortunately most webpages of this kind are not made to be printed or even saved at all — you will know this if you ever tried. When printing, the screen layout will likely be scattered across multiple half-printed pages, often missing out on the actual order data. And saving (if possible at all, without unexpectedly quitting the order process) will potentially leave you up with an HTML-file accompanied by a mess of images and other media files, often in separate folders. Not exactly an efficient way to keep records.
In a time when (as in Germany for instance) electronic signatures are required by law for digital invoicing and peer-confirmations are being sent and saved from every blog post or chat you make:
How can it be so hard to just grab the data of the electronic contract you are about to close and subscribe to its follow ups, in order to archive them, just as if they were a blog-feed or podcast ?
There already are public standards like ebXML, RDF, SSE et al. to do exactly this kind of work. But none of them have been implemented yet to ease average Joe’s or even SME-employed users’ everyday processes. By the time of writing this article, successful implementations of these technologies are only known from big corporations like Boeing, Microsoft, SAP, Vodafone or Volkswagen/Audi. Nevertheless, with them the approach is praised as creating huge gains in fields like knowledge management and procurement efficiency.
As the implementation is – technically spoken – supposed to be hardly a miracle, divulgence of these approaches probably may increase with the growing availability of appropriate coding kits and documentation for developers that are looking to implement these concepts.
And of course, as more shopping outlets start thinking more seriously about new ways to make online purchasing a more pleasant experience for their customers.
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