Establishing Trust Online

Online Trust

Trust is the key to sales in any line of business. Whether online or on the high street, there is unlikely to be a transaction without trust and understandably it is more difficult to build trust online. E-commerce sites that ensure trust is a central feature of their website design will often experience lower bounce rates and fewer abandoned purchases and failures to convert. This is because their customers – whether new or returning – have reasons to trust the site and the company they are shopping with.

When shopping online customers want an easy and simple experience, which leaves them feeling satisfied with their purchase and not worried about their personal details being given to third parties or whether their products will ever arrive. Understanding customer ‘pain points’ helps you to build an e-commerce website which keeps customers engaged with your offering.

Providing regular positive reassurance to customers about being a trustworthy e-commerce business will significantly improve your conversion rates – and your bottom line. There are several simple steps you can implement to maximise this.

You Are A Professional Business

If you’re serious about your business, prove it. Websites which look home-made or made by an amateur will deter potential customers from the off-set. Similarly, low-res or ‘clip-art’ images cheapen your brand and show the user you have not invested in your e-commerce site, which could indicate that it is not very secure. On the other hand, websites which look professional and have smooth processes from one page to the next, instil trust in the customer and encourage them to complete their purchase.

It’s one thing showing potential customers that you are a professional business, but it’s more important and a lot more valuable when someone else says you are a professional and trustworthy business. Encouraging customer reviews and engaging with your customers shows you value their feedback. Embracing social media is another route, users are incredibly honest and will tell other users about their experience – whether that is positive or negative.

Terms And Conditions

Every e-commerce website has terms and conditions. Whether people read them or not, is another matter! However, should a potential customer want to know about your returns policy, it needs to be easily accessible. Similarly, returning or exchanging products should be as pain free as possible.

I recommend all sites have up to date terms and conditions on their websites, plus a summary of these points on the cart page, so the customer feels reassured they can return any item if necessary. This is especially important for apparel sites, where the number of returns tends to be higher.

Obtaining a customer’s personal details is a very sensitive matter and one that should be dealt with carefully. It is important to reassure the customer you can be trusted with their details and will not pass them on. One of the simplest things you can do is to have a clearly worded and prominent commitment to protecting personal data. This often gets overlooked yet it is critical, particularly for a new online business without an established, loyal customer base or a solid reputation to rely on.

Checkout

Trust seals are incredibly important. Generally people seem to have more trust in sites that are associated with well known anti-virus companies such as Symantec. Adding trust seals and displaying them in the correct way will have a significant, positive impact on conversion rates.

If you’re taking payments onsite directly through your own website, then it is a requirement that your checkout process is SSL secured. If in doubt, it is vital you speak with your merchant bank. This reassures your customers that you are taking their personal details seriously and also protects your company from a possible commercial catastrophe.

Adding in safeguard words, such as ‘Checkout safely’ or ‘Proceed now to securely checkout’ is very simple but highly effective in reassuring customers. It gives the customer peace of mind that you know what worries them and will gain you trust almost immediately.

Successful e-commerce websites have good customer feedback and loyal, returning visitors. Trust and reassurance should never be added extras, but need to be at the core of how you design, build and develop your e-commerce website.

James Shakespeare

James Shakespeare co-founded Evosite, an innovative digital agency specialising in creative Web, mobile and e-commerce solutions in 2001. With over 16 years of creative design experience and developing online solutions for many leading brands, he has a wealth of invaluable knowledge and experience in the sector, delivering client projects on deadline and to budget.