“By the year 2014, it is estimated that close to $250 million a year will be spent by consumers at online retailers.” –Applicure.com
This staggering number presents huge opportunity for retailers and conversely huge risk to their potential customers. As a retailer, building trust with online customers is one the most (if not the most) important factors in getting your customer to purchase and continue purchasing from your store. Below, I’ll describe 5 ways of building trust with your customer, ensuring they remain loyal customer for years to come.
#1 – PCI Compliance
Web applications have become a “soft spot” for cyber-criminals intent on stealing credit card information. To combat the proliferation of online fraud, the Payment Card Industry (PCI) and Security Standards Council (SSC) was formed to make sure that merchants who accept credit cards meet minimum security levels in how they accept, process, and transmit credit card information. There are varying levels of PCI compliance based on the transaction volume of the organization. More on PCI Compliance and these levels can be found here – PCI Security Standards
#2 – Security Badges
Security badges are an easy way to convey to your customer that your site meets certain standards of compliance and service. What badges do customers tend to look for? As a general rule of thumb, customer’s tend to look for Security platforms they are familiar with. Those include mainly Norton Antivirus or McAfee as they are the dominant players in the desktop world. Ideally one badge should indicate you have an encrypted connection, a second that you are a non-infected site and a third that you have a positive history of consumer relations.
Badges that convey this effect are: Norton for Encryption, McAfee for Non-infection and TRUSTe or BBB Accredited to indicate trust in consumer relations.
Another popular and growing badge is Google Trusted Stores – which confirms that you have met Google standards when it comes to reliable shipping, excellent customer service, and Free purchase Protection –Google Trusted Stores
#3 – Testimonials, Ratings & Reviews
Testimonials are a great way to get an unbiased opinion of a sites performance. More customers tend to favour an unbiased layman’s opinion of a site than a scripted message from the site’s author. According to Equity Marketing Solutions, more often than not, company reviews are solicited reviews that appear on third party sites, such as ResellerRatings.com, Epinions.com, and RateItAll.com.
#4 – Emphasize Customer Service
Emphasizing Customer Service is another huge asset to customers when determining if they should trust your store. Make customer service a central theme to your site’s core goals and make it clear to the customer that your goal is to provide the very best service possible. Offer a clear and concise return policy and FAQ where customers can browse to see questions that are often asked. Provide several mediums by which your customer can connect with you – 1800 Number, email, not to mention social media. Last but certainly not least…integrate Live Chat.
The old adage “a picture is worth a thousand words” couldn’t be more true in the world of eCommerce. Nothing beats a nicely designed site with bright beautiful images depicting the item for sale. That being said, an equally appropriate description of the product certainly won’t hurt and is as equally as mandatory as the image. With that being said, depending on your vertical, its best to know what types of images transfer best. In the case of fashion, do you use real models, mannequin’s, or none at all? Studies have been largely inconclusive as a whole, but popular opinion indicates real models and mannequin’s perform better than none at all, as the clothing shows its contours to the human figure and is more relatable to the customer. Tips on shorting photography can be found here.
Transparency is the Key
The underlying theme here (if it isn’t obvious enough) is complete transparency. Leave no stone unturned and make it painfully easy for your customers to get all the information they need. Doing this will result in your customers faith in your business ethics and the removal of doubt or hesitation when purchasing from your site. Remember, it take a lifetime to build trust and only a moment to break it.