We’re going to do a series of posts about our new online bike shop redesign. This is going to go into detail about why we decided to move to a completely new e-commerce platform, redesign the look of it, and then completely change what we do as a bike shop. So for the first one, we’re going to talk about what we struggled with in terms of the checkout process for our bike shop.
When we built our previous e-commerce platform, it was a completely custom build and at the start it seemed ideal.
However, as we grew as a business, and the number of orders increased, the number of errors in handling orders through the checkout were increasing. We categorized these into 2 areas, User Interface and Software Stability. So with the new build, we addressed both of these areas. We’re going to detail below what these issues looked like for our online bike shop, and then what has changed in our new bike shop!
User Interface Issues in our Bike Shop Checkout
In the old version of our bike shop, our checkout process was detailed, but not very intuitive.
We had the functionality to allow multiple addresses, but nobody was using it, so it was no real benefit. Having this function also made the whole checkout process more complicated than it needed to be, as it meant that clearing mistakes in inputting your shipping address wasn’t easy to do.
So in favour of making it simpler, we removed that function.
We also had the worldwide issue of post codes and address structure. This was an issue in Ireland mostly. Not only did post codes not exist up until 2015, they still aren’t widely used. This was due to the issues that eircode faces itself with the private shipping industry mostly. Delivery for UK post codes was simple, but in needing to have a post code, it also applied to all delivery addresses outside the UK, and we couldn’t handle that.
In the checkout of the old bike shop, we had to enforce certain fields for addresses that didn’t apply to some countries. The problem was in making it adaptable to each country, and we just couldn’t achieve that with the platform we were working off.
So with the new platform for our online cycling store, it is a much clearer process, and where previously it wasn’t clear, it is now clear which fields need to be filled out. Instead of a dropdown menu for selection of counties and regions etc., you can now enter your own info.
This is important for us, because one thing we’ve learned is how much postal address structures differ across the world, and so now our online bicycle shop is more adapted to that.
As the list of issues grew with the interface of our bike shop’s checkout, we were faced with the issue of different billing and shipping addresses.
There are a lot of things at play when it comes to the checkout of any online shop, not just an online bike shop! Things like currency, pricing, taxes, and shipping all have to be incorporated into the checkout process. This means we needed a checkout that worked from a legal point of view for taxes. We needed a checkout that worked from a business point of view so that we can make money. Then we needed a checkout that worked from a user point of view so that you can buy all of your cycling products with us.
In order to be compliant with international tax laws, there are a few different factors at play. We must charge VAT within the EU, but all sales to outside the EU do not require us to charge VAT. When we sell above a certain amount to any one particular country per year, we must register for VAT in that country, and charge the appropriate VAT rate.
So this means that based on the country you are shipping to, we must adjust our tax rates. In the old bike shop, we had to limit your country selection to ensure we charged the correct taxes. In our new bike shop, we can update your prices on the fly, as you change the country you want us to ship to. So no matter what country you select, you will get the correct price.
To help with that, we’ve also added in a geolocate function to our cycling store. Now when you visit our online bike shop, we detect the country you are in, and display the prices based on that country’s tax rules. Geolocation isn’t always 100% accurate, and so you can still change your delivery address, and we will update the prices accordingly.
That leads us to the issue of multi-currency transactions. That’s a much bigger thing, and so we’re going to deal with that in a future blog post on our bike shop blog.
Software Stability in our Bike Shop Checkout
We were very much aware of the issues with our checkout process and how unintuitive it was, so we are being openly critical of it here. On our old bike shop, if you had the patience to have gotten through the checkout process, you then got to the payments section which you will be familiar with from any other online shopping you do.
This was a simple enough process as it is a standard process across all card providers to ensure maximum security for your payment details.
The added layer of Verified by Visa and MasterCard 3D Secure did add some frustration. It is something we ourselves experience in our own online shopping with the amount of passwords to remember. However, it provides added security and so it’s a necessary evil.
The issues we had were that on processing payments, the percentage of payments that failed not because of issues on the credit card or account, but with stability issues of our checkout. Processing the payment was taking too long and so the transaction was timing out. Other transactions were simply not passing data through to our payments provider, Realex.
Adding back into the interface issues, when orders were failing, we weren’t making it clear enough to users that the payment had failed. This was an understandably frustrating issue for customers.
We wanted to improve this. Not only did we want our website to be responsive and easy to navigate on mobile devices, we wanted input to be easier, especially for card payments at the checkout.
So we moved to this new platform, added in a brand new integration with Realex Payments that is much more stable, and works much better on mobile devices.
We’re now almost a week into the new platform, and the number of issues with payments is at 0. That’s on top of all the testing we did prior to launch. So we’re delighted with that, along with the integration help we got from the excellent customer service at Realex Payments.
In the end, we now have a simple online cycling store, that you can shop on easily, as well as checkout from easily. It may not seem like a lot, but this is a huge improvement for us, and we hope it helps you when you shop in our online bike shop.
So now you see the reasons that so heavily influenced our need to move platforms and completely rebuild our bike shop.
This was top of our list, and the reason why we wanted to get the new site up quickly, and then add in products. So for now, you can shop for PowerBar Sports Nutrition and get 20% off with the coupon code ALIMAYSPORTSBETA. We know it would be nice to shop all of our bike parts, and cycling accessories in the brand new look website, but we promise they will all be coming back soon.
Still though, check out our Online Bicycle Store today, it’s better than ever!