One of the biggest challenges online businesses face is building trust with their e-commerce website. In a face-to-face store, customers can meet you, see your physical products and receive their products at the moment of payment. In contrast, online shoppers are being asked to hand over their card details first and then wait for the delivery of the goods. This makes trust-building essential for raising conversions on your e-commerce site.
Fortunately, there are plenty of ways you can demonstrate your authenticity, trustworthiness and the quality of your goods and services right off the bat. And according to research, implementing these strategies could double or even quadruple your conversions in the short term. In the long term, building trust will help you create a large base of loyal customers.
Basic Must-Haves for Customer Trust
Every online store needs at least basic protection not only to build customer trust but also to protect both the business and customers from theft. Payment fraud resulted in almost €38 billion in losses globally in 2022, and certain kinds of attacks continue to grow. Before you even take your e-commerce store live, be sure to do these eight things.
1. Build a Professional-Looking Website
Customers trust websites that look professional and three out of four people form an opinion of a website based on its aesthetics. Show potential customers that they can trust you to provide an excellent product by greeting them with a top-notch website.
For an online shopping experience that builds trust, customers will be looking for:
- Professional website design
- Professional, high-resolution product photography
- Beautifully written, error-free text
- A detailed “About Us” page and FAQs page
- Detailed, accurate product descriptions
- Evidence to back up any claims you make
- An active, up-to-date blog
- An easy-to-use interface that’s optimised for both PC and mobile devices
If you really want to go the extra mile, you can create product demonstration videos and behind-the-scenes videos or create and publish original industry-specific research. The more you develop an online presence, the more likely new customers are to see you as a legitimate brand.
2. Get an SSL Certificate
SSL certificates, or secure socket layer certificates, certify that communications to and from your website are encrypted. Websites that have an SSL certificate display with a green padlock in the URL address bar and have a web address that starts with “HTTPS”. More than half of prospective customers won’t even browse a website that’s not secured, making this one of the most important trust signals to have.
3. Invest in an Antivirus and Firewall
Hackers keep changing their attacks to get around existing website protections, which is why it’s essential to have dynamic antivirus and firewall software that update their strategies in real-time to keep your business and your customers safe. When you sign up for an antivirus or firewall service, the companies will give you trust badges to display on your website. These badges, in turn, help to build customer trust.
4. Integrate A Secure Checkout
According to one study, 50% of cart abandonments were due to security concerns. Give your potential customers full peace of mind by integrating a PCI-compliant global payment gateway that’s managed by a merchant account provider that provides comprehensive merchant services including an adjustable fraud scrub, chargeback mitigation services and 24/7 technical support in case anything goes wrong.
5 . Display Trust Badges, Professional Memberships and Awards
In e-commerce, a badge speaks a thousand words. If you have any professional memberships, awards or mentions in the news, feature them prominently on your home page, in the footer, or both. If you’re a reseller for a popular brand, be sure to display your dealer credentials and include “genuine product” seals on your product pages to build customer trust.
6. Offer Easy-Select Privacy and Data Options
7. Display Contact Information and Shipping and Return Policies Prominently
There are three other things that are essential for building consumer trust from the get-go:
- Contact information
- Shipping policy
- Return policy
Before handing over their money, online customers want to know that they’re dealing with a legitimate business. Provide full assurance right up by providing your address and contact details in a highly visible place and again on a dedicated contact page.
According to LivePerson’s Connecting with Consumers report, 83% of customers would be happy to browse or buy products through messaging conversations, 76% communicate with e-commerce brands via business email, 41% use text messaging and 33% communicate via social media. Give customers a range of options, including telephone, email, contact form, in-person and live chat. Then, make sure someone is available to respond during the hours stated on your contact page.
Your shipping policy will state where you ship, how long shipping takes and who is responsible for the package until it arrives. This information helps your customers have realistic delivery expectations and prevents chargebacks due to a delivery delay that is outside of your control. If there’s an unusual backup or shipping delay due to external factors, add a banner to that effect at the top of every page.
Being able to return goods lowers the perceived risk of the purchase decision for online shoppers. Display your returns policy in a clear place so that your customers know where to go if there is any problem with their purchase.
8. Set Up Automatic Confirmation Emails
Automated order confirmation emails give customers confidence that their purchases were successful and that you’ve received their orders. Following up with parcel-tracking emails and a customer satisfaction survey after delivery reassure the customer that you are onto it and that their order is in good hands.
Other Ways to Build Trust
So far, we’ve covered the absolute basics. Now, build even more trust and increase conversions with these tried-and-tested strategies.
Display Social Proof
Customers trust brands with which others have had a great experience. If thousands of other customers love your brand, let your potential customers know.
In a prominent place on your homepage, display:
- Independent product ratings
- Online reviews
- Customer testimonials by verified buyers
- Client logos (especially for B2B)
- The number of satisfied customers you have (going by reviews)
According to research from the Medill Spiegel Research Center (SRC), displaying reviews on lower-priced products can increase conversions by 190% and displaying reviews on higher-priced products can increase conversions by 380%. Display reviews on your home page, category pages and product pages for the best results.
Display Social Media Links
Data from BigCommerce shows that e-commerce businesses with at least one social media channel make an average of 32% more sales than those that don’t. If you have social media accounts, let potential customers know. When people see that you’re active on social media and have a large community of people who are interested in your brand, they’re more likely to see you as a legitimate business.
Use Inventory Management Software
In a brick-and-mortar store, customers can see how many of each product you have and walk away with a product in their hands. To build trust in online shopping, inventory management software completes the “real-time” shopping experience by displaying stock levels and expected delivery dates. According to research by the online handmade marketplace Etsy in 2019, knowing the expected delivery date is a key factor in customers’ purchase decisions.
Offer Free Shipping
Shipping isn’t free for you, obviously. But seeing a huge increase in price at the checkout once shipping and taxes are applied undermines customers’ trust. To reassure new customers that “the price is the price”, you can:
- Offer free shipping for purchases over a threshold amount.
- Create a banner that states your shipping rates and place it at the top of each page.
- Ask new customers to enter their country and postal code at the start to view personalised prices complete with taxes and shipping.
Offer Free Trials and Product Samples
Free trials and samples build trust that you’re confident about the quality of the goods and services that you sell. It’s fairly easy to create sample-size versions of your products or offer a 30-day trial of a service. If the customer is satisfied, he or she will be happy to pay to continue to use it (in the case of a service) or to buy the full-sized version (in the case of a product).
Act on Customer Feedback
Your existing customers are your greatest resource when it comes to building trust. Compile feedback from reviews and customer contacts and act on correcting any obvious problems straight away. To dig deeper, survey your loyal customers to find out what they like about your e-commerce store and what you could be doing better. As long as you make the survey quick and easy to complete, many customers will be happy to help.
Building Trust Pays for Itself Many Times Over
Investing in a first-class business website, secure payment gateway, inventory and communications software, customer service and social proof may seem like a lot of effort, but these measures really do make a difference.
Just going by a few of the statistics we’ve shared here, using trust markers like social proof could multiply your current sales. Show potential customers that your online business is trustworthy and many will reward you by purchasing again and again.