Q:I would appreciate any critiques of my website (http://exotique.xoax.net), including ease of use, style, and ease of check-out/use of PayPal. I had a merchant account, but Visa/MC just started demanding that all merchants pay at least $200/yr for security verification and right now I can't justify doing that. I am not getting even 1% of the users who come to my site to buy. Is it just a lack of items? I need help. I'm not sure what the problem is.
A:1. Check with another merchant bank/credit card service. I have never heard anything like this from my service provider. 2. Use slightly larger photos - and better photos for your products. The Pear soap looks like melted wax. 3. Sell the experience - "Pamper yourself with a spa treatment at home," "Give the gift of pure pleasure", "non-allergenic soaps" - every reason you can think of for someone to purchase what you sell. Get an image - photo or drawing of someone bathing with a specialty soap. Then think of why someone would buy from you: ease, variety, etc. Think about grouping products by "gift soaps", "flower soaps", "glycerine soaps". Show some of your products grouped in a fancy bath setting with flowers, candles, and new towels in approprate colors. 4. Do a little looking at your server logs - especially at the search terms that brought the visitor from search portals. If you are getting people looking for something other than what you offer, look at your content & keywords and bring them more in line with what you do. Three things I would fix: 1) orange text on an orange background makes for a page that is nearly unreadable. 2) add some more information about the stuff, and what makes it special. 3) 11 products is kind of a thin product line. Less than 1% of visitors buying is about par for the web. Many web vendors have a mistaken view of selling on the web. They think that if you put a page up, people will find it, visit, and buy. In reality, millions of people put up pages, and the chances of finding your page is remote. So, you have to drive traffic to the site. The catch 22 is that the process of driving traffic costs as much as or more than the profit that you earn from the traffic. If you don't advertise, you don't get traffic. If you do advertise, you get lots of traffic, but it costs more than what you earn, which is why the dot com bubble burst--lots of people found out this fact right as their funding was running out. The unique idea for selling on the web is not in page design or product mix. The unique idea is finding a way to drive traffic to your site and to get people to buy in a way where you don't have to spend all your profit just to get these clicks. When you figure that one out, you will be mega-wealthy.