thanks for taking the time to read and respond:
Are your shipping policies/rates easy to determine before the checkout process?
yes, relatively easy. When they click the add to basket button, it takes them to the basket page, where it lists the shipping rate (if they are in the US, which most customers are). So there are no "surprises" in the shipping charge when they go through the checkout page.
Or are you inserting a link to purchase the item in your article in a way that's confusing?
I think it is pretty clear. The items are off to the side, and there is a photo of the item, and there is an Add to basket button, so they should have a pretty good idea of what will happen when they click it.
Does the article contain all the information the customer would to see about the product, in an easy to read format? If not, maybe they are clicking on the item in an attempt to see more details, not in attempt to buy.
Well, not exactly. Say the article is about widgets in general. There will be three or four specific widget products on that page. They all have the same format; a thumbnail picture and the name of the product, followed by the price and an add to basket button.
If they click on the photo of the item, it will take them to the ecommerce product details of that item.
Maybe that isn't clear enough? Maybe when they click on the add to basket button, they are actually really just wanting to get more info about the product? I thought that since the name and photo of the item are both links to the product detail page, they would be able to figure that out though.
Are you products priced competitively?
I think so. Because the products are somewhat artistic, it is hard to compare them apples to apples with other products on other sites. And there is no universal product number or SKU they could easily look up.
There are a few sites that do carry pretty much the exact same item, but it would probably have a different name than what we use, and we sell them for less (usually 10% to 15% less).
On the competitors' sites, the shipping charge is either not divulged until going through the checkout process. On one competitor's site, they do drop shipping, so they state in red letters that the shipping takes longer and is more expensive than most of the other items they sell. I would think this would be a big turnoff to their customers.