I finished the first draft of The Absolute Beginner's Guide to Setting up a Business Online today and tried to convert it into a PDF so I could pass it out to my reviewers.
Unfortunately Windows 7, Office 2010 and Adobe Acrobat Standard 8 don't work together (at least not on my machine) and Adobe has just stopped support for Acrobat 8.
I was quite happy to update to a current version of Acrobat so I hopped over to the Adobe site to buy it.
When I tried to check out they asked me to log in, but I'd forgotten my password, so I clicked the 'forgot password' link and waited for the promised email.
After nearly half an hour it hadn't arrived, so I figured I'd just create a new account.
During the account set-up process they asked for my address. Even though it apparently 'did not fit their accepted formats' (huh..!?), I was offered the option of using it anyway (good move, particularly for ex-pats living abroad).
But when I tried to check out I got a message that I couldn't, because my address was in Hong Kong. I had to visit the Hong Kong Adobe website.
So I visited the Hong Kong site, logged in, went through the transaction and tried to check out again - with exactly the same result.
I tried clearing my shopping cart and starting the entire transaction from the beginning (for the third time, now) - same result.
I was now on a Hong Kong Adobe website being told I couldn't check out because my account was a Hong Kong account!
During this process I'd cleared all my caches, including cookies, and I'd even closed and re-booted my browser.
But nothing worked. I either got an error, or I was told I had to go to a Hong Kong site because my account was based in Hong Kong.
So I gave up and bought the PDF Converter Pro from Nuance, which was a totally painless, efficient, smooth-as-silk process.
And my point is?
I've said it before: if you're selling stuff on your website you must also buy stuff on your website.
You have to understand what you're putting your customers through and you have to make the process as smooth and pain-free as possible.
Shopping cart abandon rates are always high, but you can reduce them by really focusing on improving the customer experience.
However, unless you go through your own shopping cart journey you won't know what needs to be improved.
And don't just go through it once, immediately after setting it up. Give it a week or 2 and then go back to it, because then you'll be approaching it much as a first time customer would.
That's when it will be illuminating.
And the result today of today's experience? Based solely on the shopping cart journey, Adobe lost a sale and Nuance gained one.