For this reason, establishing trust should be a key priority for any ecommerce website owner. If you don't do a good job of presenting yourself as a reliable and trustworthy retailer, the people who stumble upon your website may be very reluctant to actually purchase anything.
But what's the best way to earn customer trust? Here are a few quick tips for helping customers to feel confident when using your ecommerce website:
Use reviews to demonstrate your reliability.
One of the most popular ways to instil confidence in online consumers is to show them reviews from people who bought the same item(s) from the same website in the past.
Most ecommerce websites allow users to leave reviews, usually in the form of a star rating (one to five) and a few comments about the purchasing experience. If you want to do something a bit more in-depth, you could go further and allow users to rate different aspects of your service separately, like this:
However you choose to present them, populating your product pages with reviews from previous customers will really help new customers to feel less like they're venturing into the unknown.
Of course, the one drawback of this system is the possibility that customers might leave negative reviews, thus potentially making newcomers even more reluctant to purchase anything from your website. Fortunately, there are a few different ways to combat this problem. Some websites allow sellers to post public responses to customer reviews, meaning that anyone on the receiving end of a one-star rating has the opportunity to explain what happened and possibly redeem themselves in the eyes of future visitors. Alternatively, you might consider implementing a review moderation system that allows you to decide which reviews actually get published on your website (this is a good way to prevent people from posting abuse or lying about your company).
Still, if you provide a satisfactory service, you can probably depend on your customers to be kind in their reviews. And even if you do occasionally receive unflattering feedback, your site will probably still look more appealing to new customers than if you had no reviews whatsoever; a site with fifty positive reviews and five negative reviews will generally be seen as a better bet than a site offering no information at all on the experiences of previous customers.
Choose a trusted, well-known payment system.
For most of us, buying something online is now just as humdrum and as commonplace an activity as popping to the corner shop for some milk, and yet we're still very careful about giving away our financial information online. We're right to be cautions, of course - in 2014, fraud losses on UK-issued cards totalled roughly £479 million - but that caution can be hugely problematic for honest ecommerce retailers who need people to have faith in the concept of online payment.
The most straightforward way to convince customers that your checkout is secure? Use a well-known payment gateway like Sage Pay or PayPal. People tend to recognise names like these (in the case of PayPal, they may even have an account already set up), and this will help them to feel at ease when they're entering their card details on your website.
If you decide to use a different payment gateway, be sure to do your homework first. Find out whether or not the payment provider is trustworthy and reliable, and make absolutely sure that payments will be handled over a secure connection (HTTPS).
Show the human face of your business.
There are many reasons why consumers are generally more comfortable spending money in brick-and-mortar shops than on ecommerce websites, but one big reason is the lack of human faces. When you buy a book from your local Waterstones, the payment is handled by the person behind the till; they answer to a supervisor or manager, who in turn answers to someone at head office. There's a sense of accountability that's often absent when purchasing online, where it's easy to feel like you're buying from a machine with no human oversight.
Happily, this feeling is easy to dispel. It's a good idea to a 'Meet the Team' page to your website (here's ours
) in order to introduce your customers to the people behind the machine; if you've got time, you may also want to consider sharing some photos from around the office on your blog and/or social media accounts.
This is a great way to demonstrate that your online business is every bit as 'alive' as any high street shop, and that there are real people dealing with each order and reading each email.
Ensure that your website is functional and modern-looking.
A visitor's trust in your website will erode very quickly if they're encountering problems like these as they navigate the buying process:
- Broken links that lead to 404 error pages
- Pages that load slowly...or not at all!
- Non-intuitive navigation (i.e. you've made it difficult for the user to find what they're looking for)
- Missing (or low-quality) images
- Poorly-written site copy that's rife with spelling/grammar mistakes
If you're raising any of these red flags, it will massively affect consumer confidence - after all, if you've made mistakes on your website, what's to say that you won't make mistakes with the orders you ship?
On a related note, it's important for any serious ecommerce retailer to invest in a clean, modern-looking website design
. Your website is your shop floor, and if you don't make it look appealing, people will be markedly less inclined to stay and browse. This isn't just an aesthetic issue, either; a poor-quality design can be difficult to navigate, and if it looks particularly outdated, people may even get the impression that you're no longer in operation - they might think you've abandoned your online store entirely and moved on to pastures new, leaving the site to gather dust in some forgotten corner of the Internet.
We'd also recommend opting for a responsive website design
, as this will provide mobile and tablet users with a far better purchasing experience. Millions of people now regularly use portable devices to shop online, so you're potentially missing out on a big chunk of the market if you stick with a non-responsive design.
Make yourself easy to contact.
Nobody's perfect, and even the best companies make occasional mistakes. It would be fantastic if you could eliminate all issues within your business, but in the first instance, it's more important to ensure that customers can easily report and resolve their issues when they arise.
So here's what you need to do: list your company's contact details PROMINENTLY on your website (e.g. in the site header, or on a contact page that's linked from the main site menu) and make sure that those contact details are up to date and active. You should ideally list as many different contact methods as possible; some people will want to send you an email, while others may prefer to speak on the phone. You might also consider listing office opening times, in case anyone is expecting you to answer the phone at 8pm on a Saturday.
Offering a live chat option is another great way to be there for your customers, but don't make this commitment unless you're actually prepared to answer all the chat messages that come through!
People who shop online take a leap of faith every time they place an order. If a user gets to that point on your website, it's because you've done a good job of convincing them that: