Shopping online is often frustrating, especially for those who don't live in the USA. One of the main reasons: it's too hard to determine shipping costs.
I can't count the times I've had to dive well into the checkout process — filling out my name and address, entering my email address, creating a password, etc. — just to find out whether the shipping costs to Canada are prohibitive. In fact, it's often not clear whether the retailer will ship outside of the USA at all!
I'm really growing to love websites that offer “Shipping Cost Previews” right up front. A nice example is www.GreenBeanery.ca, online retailer of everything coffee-related, including green (unroasted) coffee beans.
As soon as I add a product to my cart, I'm presented with a nice big green button offering me a chance to preview my shipping costs:
When I click the button, the next page makes it clear the company will ship internationally, by asking what Country I'm from:
I was mildly annoyed that I had to tell them my province when I've already listed my Postal Code, but I'll cut them some slack: they're trying to make their system work everywhere.
So I click “Continue” and I'm given a wide variety of shipping options. Nice and easy to compare… I'll take Purolator!
This is a great convenience. No pesky passwords or usernames, no tedious address forms. Just a minimal amount of info and “presto” I know whether it's worth continuing. It makes me feel much better about dealing with this retailer. (Incidentally, they're terrific to deal with and sell great products. Highly recommended.)
Is your site as convenient to use?