The internet has given us the power to sell our products far and wide. It’s empowered us to reach new markets, to target our customers more directly, to communicate with our customers anywhere at any time, and to engage them at the most opportune moments. It’s enabled our customers to search for and gather information about products and services quickly and easily, and it’s opened a more convenient way for them to shop.
However, as wonderful a tool as the internet is for selling our wares, one of the most cited reasons for consumers not choosing to purchase online is a lack of trust.
In a brick and mortar store, physical clues like the appearance of the store and direct contact with staff members greatly contribute to making consumers feel safe and happy to hand over their payment and personal details. In a faceless (online) environment, it can be much more difficult to give consumers the same reassurance. But while we’re not able to directly control how much our customers trust us, there are steps we can take to build an online environment that encourages them to feel trust:
1. Harness the power of customer ratings and reviews
Sometimes, all a potential customer needs to get over trust concerns is some reassurance from other customers. In fact, 1 in 5 people say that they use online written reviews to help them make purchasing decisions. With Millennial shoppers being the most heavily dependent on their peers’ opinions when it comes to comparing which products to buy. That’s why it can be helpful for those who haven’t had a previous experience with a retailer to read the results of another’s experience. Positive consumer reviews, spread over a significant stretch of time, are reliable proof of consistency and brand integrity which can help nervous customers to change their perceptions of risk and insecurity and, as a result, help to foster trust.
But it’s important to ensure that you can’t avoid displaying only positive reviews, as this may seem suspicious to eagle-eyed shoppers. If your reviews look edited or screened, you could actually end up reducing trust!
2. Invest in high quality images and video
Unlike in a traditional brick and mortar store, customers can’t physically see, touch or test an item before buying it when they shop online. Therefore, it can be hard for them to judge the quality of a product or how it works in practice, which often leads to worry. One way to reduce that worry is to use plenty of high quality product images (taken from a variety of angles) that offer better views of the product, and if possible, video(s) to demonstrate how the product functions.
It doesn’t matter how much effort you put into your product descriptions, if your images aren’t up to scratch, customers will be put off and go elsewhere. Just a single snapshot of a product can provide more relevant information about the quality of a product than multiple paragraphs of text. That’s because images provide a natural sense of scale and help customers get familiar with an item before they buy, which enhances their level of trust that they will receive what they think they’ve purchased.
3. Regularly post great content
According to Demand Metrics, 70% of consumers feel a closer connection to a brand as a result of content marketing. With 72% believe they form a relationship with a brand because of custom content. In other words, how trustworthy a brand is perceived as can be greatly influenced by the content they produce.
When it comes to creating your own content, get creative and leverage all channels. ASOS use editorial style feeds to inspire their customers with their fashion choices, ASDA created the “Mum’s Eye View” YouTube channel to provide useful beauty and parenting tips to mums and Made.com use Instagram to show how its customers use their furniture and provide potential customers with ideas. These are just a few examples of the different approaches to content. The key is creating content that resonates with your target customers, to build trust and convert.
4. Choose your retail partners wisely
Buy Now technology offers you the unique opportunity to partner with other retailers to offer your customers more choice for where to purchase your goods. eCommerce partnerships can result in a plethora of benefits for your business including; empowering your customers, extending your reach, and increasing your conversion rates. In fact, partnering with other retailers can help capture an additional 1-2% of visitor traffic that would usually bounce off your website. However, it is advisable to pick who you partner with wisely.
Being associated with a company that’s been involved in a scandal, been the victim of a data breach, or known for badly treating customers can hurt your reputation. On the other hand, an association with a highly trusted company will enhance your image. So, before you select which retailers to partner with, be sure to compare their business values with your own.
5. Don’t surprise your customers with hidden costs
Presenting customers with unexpected additional costs at checkout is one of the easiest ways to discourage them from completing their purchase. In fact, 23% of people will abandon their cart if they encounter costs they weren’t informed about at the beginning of the checkout process.
To gain consumer trust, be sure to display all additional costs on the product page (taxes, shipping etc.). Similarly, if there’s a certain amount that qualifies a customer to avail free shipping, be sure to mention it clearly.
6. Get some third-party assurance
When asked which factors help them to decide whether or not to trust a website, almost half (48%) of all consumers who participated in the survey said the most effective way to win their trust was to display a trust seal.
A trust seal proves to visitors that a website has been independently verified as legitimate and secure. Typically, these seals are associated with Secure Sockets Layers (SSL for short). SSLs encrypt critical data like credit card information and ensure that when the data is exchanged between the browser and a connected site, the information cannot be read, deciphered or decrypted by third parties. So, by proudly displaying a seal from the likes of Trust Guard, Norton, McAfee, PayPal, TRUSTe, RapidSSL, or Comodo, customers will have extra reason to believe that your business is legitimate and reputable.
7. Give customers a variety of reputable payment options
Barely a week in news goes by without mention of a new credit card scam or hacker attack, which is why many consumers still view providing credit card information as risky. To combat this perceived risk you can use a payment gateway that they trust. Or better still, offer your customers multiple options with which to pay.
In research conducted by FuturePay, a “lack of payment options” is one of the most commonly cited reasons that caused customers to abandon online shopping carts. While another study found that 56% of consumers expect a variety of payment options when they get to a checkout page. Popular options include PayPal, Stripe, Apple Pay, Amazon Pay, and Square.
8. Make it easy for customers to get help
A consumer can have many questions when it comes to making a purchasing a decision. But because they’re shopping in a faceless environment, ensuring that they feel help is easily accessible goes a long when it comes to building trust. There are several things you can do to make it easy for customers to access support:
- Display your contact details like phone number, store/office address, customer care email address, etc. clearly on your website. Having easy access to each of these resources will reassure customers that they can always reach out to you in case they have a problem.
- Include a search feature on your site so consumers can easily find exactly what they’re looking for.
- If your customer service team are regularly asked the same questions, (e.g. shipping information, returns policy), try featuring an FAQ section that answers each of the most common queries.
- Nowadays, many consumers use social media channels like Twitter as their first port of call when it comes to contacting businesses about issues or if they have questions regarding a product/service. When a customer contacts you through social media, you should respond within minutes – not hours or days. Continuously monitor your social media channels as if they are a customer support network, because that’s what many customers use them for.
- Utilise a chatbot to ensure your customers have assistance on-demand, 24/7, 365 days a year.
These are just some of the steps you can take to help increase your trustworthiness in the eyes of potential customers. What efforts are you taking to ensure your consumers feel comfortable to buy your products online? Have you employed any other strategies to build trust with your customers? Tweet us @ChannelSight to let us know.