Online Order Forms Instead of Shopping Cart – A Smart Choice for Small Businesses

One of the most important things on your website is the customer interface. A good interface can be the difference between a smooth shopping experience and the customer finding another website to purchase from. One of the decisions you need to make is whether you want to offer a shopping cart or online order forms for your customers to use. For many small businesses, an online order form is the far better choice for a variety of reasons.

Customer Experience

The importance of customer experience cannot be understated. When a person on your website is able to navigate smoothly and easily, they’re more likely to view your business positively. Shopping carts and online order forms create a very different experience. If you’ve used a standard shopping cart, consider trying out an order form and seeing if it makes the customer experience better for the people you’re trying to sell to.

When you’re setting up your site, remember to perform user testing. The most attractive interface in the world isn’t going to push sales if your average user can’t navigate it. Whenever you make major changes, consider doing some minor user testing again to make sure that your updates aren’t going to slow sales.

How Order Forms are Different

Order forms are better for single-item purchases or things that require a lot of customization. It lays out the order in a simple, uncomplicated way that lets a customer decide what they want to purchase across the board. It also lets customers easily see what options they’ve added to their orders. This simplicity makes the ordering process a breeze and lays everything out in a simple and clear manner.

If someone is ordering services from you, for example, an order form can collect information about what they’re orderings. It can also let them add extras, set a date and time, and continue adding information that will give you important details about the purchase. Shopping carts are designed for multiple purchases — think of an actual shopping cart in a store — and don’t have as much room for customization as most order forms.

Order forms also don’t have to adapt to a changing inventory. That leaves less room for errors than with shopping carts, which must constantly be updated to include whatever a person drops in or out. It’s a less focused way of shopping. When a person is on an order form, they’re set on making a purchase. It’s a more committed way to encourage customers to make a purchase.

Many order forms also make gathering data a breeze. Since there aren’t a lot of different items to content with, everything can be easily transferred into a database or Excel sheet. Data is the backbone of any company because it helps you figure out what your customers want and how you can better serve them.

What to Look For

It’s essential that any order form you choose has features that protect you and your customer. If you’re using a Paypal order form, for example, check to make sure that if has security features to protect any data transmitted over the Internet. Order forms can include customer information, payment information, and data from your business. Encryption, password protection, and CAPTCHA technology are all things to look for.

Look for an order form generator that includes a host of templates to choose from. Sometimes you want something quick and easy to put up on your site so that you can start taking orders right away. Templates make that a lot easier because they give you a starting point. You don’t always need to reinvent the wheel – sometimes something simple is best.

Find an order form setup that you can change easily when you add something to your inventory. Since order forms are designed to address specific stock, they’ll need to be updated when something new is added. The simpler it is, the quicker you can integrate a new product into your offerings.

Keep Things Simple

When it comes to order forms, one of the best things about them is their simplicity. They make the order the customer is placing easy to see and read. While you do want all the features you can find to make sure it’s safe and represents your business, don’t go overboard stylistically. Often, the most basic things are the best and are easier for a customer who doesn’t use an order form on a daily basis to understand. Their choices should take the spotlight – not the design of the form.

Using order forms is a great way to simplify purchase choices and lay out options for a customer. If you haven’t considered them yet, give them a try. You might find that they improve the overall customer experience for the people you’re selling your products to.

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