Amazon and Other e-Commerce Sites Set the Bar is easily my favorite place to shop online. Everything about the experience there is top-notch. For example, when I order a book from Amazon, I’ll immediately receive an email confirmation of my order, which includes information on when I should expect to receive my order, as well as how much I spent (including taxes and shipping and handling). The email also includes a link that will allow me to view the order details online in my profile at Amazon.

When the product actually ships, I’ll receive another email telling me when to expect the package (which in many cases is a day earlier than I was originally promised!) as well as a link that allows me to track the package through UPS.

Of course, any of us who shop on Amazon have had the same or similar experiences. That includes your members, too. And therein lies the rub for all associations. Amazon, and other well-funded e-commerce sites, have set the bar for your members’ expectations when it comes to interacting with your association  online. Is that fair, given the nearly unlimited resources of sites like Amazon? No. But it’s still their expectation.
Here’s what your members expect from your website:

  • Full profile management – The ability to update all of their contact information.
  • Order history – The ability to see everything they’ve purchased from your organization, including products, events, membership, and donations.
  • Education history – If you provide CE credits and/or a designation program, your members expect to be able to see the credits they’ve earned and to determine where they are in the certification or re-certification process.
  • Easily purchase anything, including membership join/renewal, products, events, and donations.
  • Confirmation of orders, and where appropriate, notification of shipment.

After all, your members are consumers. They know what they can do with other websites, and they expect your website to do the same. Again, it’s not fair given the nearly unlimited resources of sites like Amazon, but it’s what they compare you to. You may never have their resources but you’ll have to do what you can to meet those expectations.
Today’s AMS packages handle most, if not all, of these functions quite handily – some better than others. But if your current website can’t provide this functionality, you should be discussing with your vendor how you can get there, or you should be looking for new technology.


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