So like a bonehead I managed to leave behind my beloved Logitech VX Nano computer mouse on a recent trip, and I needed a new mouse fast.

Which was just the excuse I needed to try out Apple’s new Magic Mouse.

Now, few people fully believe me when I tell them the research on how 67% of e-commerce Website visitors who land on a site looking to buy end up NOT buying because they don’t get their questions answered.

And I think the reason most people don’t fully “get-it” is because their conception of a “question” is perhaps too narrowly focused.  But more than that, I think it’s because the marketers and Web people just don’t put themselves in enough buying scenarios.  They don’t focus in on the precipitating events that cause people to buy, and how those events affect the immediate concerns of the buyer.

And I thought my most recent purchasing adventure might shed light on this:

I want a Magic Mouse and I need it fast.  No problem, I’ll just pick one up at Best Buy, right? Nope.  They’re fresh out.

Maybe I can order one on Amazon through Amazon Prime? Nope. That mouse wasn’t eligible for Amazon Prime. Sigh.

I can always buy the darn thing directly through Apple’s Online Store, right? Yeah, but how soon can they get it to me? I’m using my old piece-of-crap Apple Mighty Mouse and too many days of that will drive me up a wall. I need this new mouse STAT!

Well, let’s check it out.  Here’s what I see on Amazon’s order page: Apple Order Page

Notice the red-circled “ships within” statement by the picture of the mouse.  That’s good, but 24 hours covers a fairly long time.It was Sunday evening and if the thing didn’t ship until Monday evening, I might not get the mouse until Wednesday.   Frankly, I needed it faster than that.

Now, look at the 2nd red-circle and you’ll see that, when selecting next-day shipping, I had to enter my zip code.  With all that info, Apple should have been able to give me an “Estimated arrival date: Feb 2” type notice.

But I couldn’t get that from the site, and because I was a motivated customer, I called their phone number to get the info from customer service. Customer service worked brilliantly and they gave me 2 very-much-needed pieces of info to close the sale:

  1. Yes, outside of bizarre happenings, I’d get the mouse Tuesday
  2. If I didn’t get it Tuesday, Apple policy allowed me to get my express shipping fee refunded

So I ordered the mouse and it arrived on Tuesday.  Cool.

But what if I hadn’t quite been that motivated to call? What if I naturally preferred to order it directly through Apple, but could have gotten this product somewhere else?

The simple answer is that I likely wouldn’t have called and would have gone to another site to buy the thing (or a logitech mouse) – a site that would have given me the answers I needed in order to buy!

So what should Apple do?

In the last red circle on the screenshot, I think they should have the estimated arrival date(s) for items, and for customers selecting express shipping, they should display their refund policy for late arrivals.  So that the screen might look a bit more like this:

2010-02-03_1129

Obviously, Apple would want to A/B test this (as would anyone), as this very well might cause a few more people to take advantage of Apple’s refund policy.  But I’d be willing to bet the added cost would be more than made up for by increased orders and increased express shipping orders.

Apple caters to a clientele that can typically more than afford their “gotta have it” stuff, and that are typically impatient to get their grubby little hands on whatever it is they’re offering.  In other words, time is more important to their customers than money.

So answering customer questions about time would likely result in more orders for Apple.

Heck, they darn near missed my order, if it hadn’t been for their clearly published phone number and excellent customer service rep (and those points are e-commerce lessons unto themselves)…

But don’t limit this phenomenon to mere questions of item arrival, this dynamic applies to almost any question about your product related to the precipitating event surrounding your customer’s decision to buy – they can all make or break a sale.

The important questions for you are: have you considered your buyers’ precipitating events? And does your Website answer your prospects’ questions?

Or are you content with losing sales that should have been yours?

P.S. Not thrilled with the magic mouse.  It’s heavy, doesn’t slide that well, and the shape is rather un-ergonomic compared to my Logitech VX Nano. Still getting used to it, though, so I might change my mind. If you have one or are ordering one, you’ll probably want to download this bit of software to accompany it: magicprefs.com

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