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How to build trust in your ecommerce store

Written by: Jessica Farrelly

Article // April 28, 2020

Trust is a fickle concept. It’s hard to gain and easy to lose. This is especially true when it comes to trust in ecommerce.

Consider a business transaction at a brick and mortar location. You’ve seen the store before and you recognize the brand. Inside, a person greets and assists you with your purchase. After paying, you leave the store with a physical product, and a receipt in your hand as recourse if you change your mind.

An ecommerce purchase is vastly different, particularly when it comes to newer or smaller brands. You may not know the business reputation, location, or the shipping and return policies. You don’t know how reliable the store is, or whether or not the product will actually reach you. 

As a retailer, you must take steps to reassure cautious shoppers that they can trust your business. Trust impacts buyer decisions at every step of the journey, from initial site visit and conversion, to repeat purchases and advocacy. Despite its subjective nature, we’ve rounded up some of the best practices for inspiring trust and encouraging shoppers to make that decision to buy. 

Site design and experience affect trust in ecommerce

People are more likely to trust a website that is visually appealing. In one study, nearly half of all consumers (46%) assessed the credibility of a site based on the appeal of the overall visual design, including layout, typography, font size, and color schemes. A professional site design conveys legitimacy and investment in a brand, while an outdated, poorly designed ecommerce store is an instant red flag. 

As well as visual appeal, your site should function and respond in the way the user expects. Issues like irrelevant search results, missing images, confusing navigation or general website glitches suggest the absence of a dedicated team or resources behind the scenes. When it comes to your page load time, a delay of just 100 milliseconds can reduce conversion rates by 7%.  

Poor shopping experiences have a negative impact on trust
Don’t send shoppers to dead-end no results pages. Check out these best practices.

Don’t forget, when it comes to user experience, you’re not just being compared to your closest competitors. Your shoppers will be accustomed to seamless, intuitive experiences on the most well-established ecommerce sites across multiple industries. That’s the standard you’re being held to, and consumers are distrustful of anything less. 

Reviews add authenticity

Word of mouth marketing and customer reviews are among the most effective methods of inspiring trust in ecommerce stores. Reviews play a critical role in purchasing decisions, particularly for more expensive items, unfamiliar brands, or when it comes to size or color selection. Shoppers want to hear from other buyers, and user-generated content (UGC) is the perfect way to facilitate this research while reinforcing your store’s trustworthiness. 

Reviews can also be beneficial to your SEO, and affect how authoritative Google perceives your site to be. For shoppers exploring new ecommerce stores, a search engine is often their first point of call for site discovery. If Google views you as trustworthy and ranks your site highly, it reassures the customer that they can too. 

True Protein leverages reviews throughout their site

Information is power

Be transparent and upfront, don’t hide information like your return policy or delivery charges beneath multiple layers of navigation. If you’re concerned that your policies will discourage shoppers from buying, change your policies. Don’t deceive customers or withhold important details until the final stage of checkout. This is a guaranteed path to abandoned carts and only serves to frustrate the shopper.

Make sure other information, like your ‘about us’ page and contact information is also easy to find, and list a physical address for your business. For product descriptions, feature as much detail as possible. Don’t copy and paste the content provided by the manufacturer, create unique product descriptions that reflect your overall brand and tone of voice. Use high-quality images and videos where appropriate. 

Lastly, include any warranties, trust seals or security certificates that might be relevant to your industry. Too much information is better than too little, and could be what sways a wary shopper to purchase, particularly if they are new to your site and unfamiliar with your brand. 

Macsales builds trust on their ecommerce store emphasizes certification, warranty, and money-back guarantee

Deliver on your promises

Whatever promises you make in the form of content, reviews, and policies, ensure you deliver on them with your customer service. After one negative experience, 51% of customers will never do business with the company responsible again. Once that trust is gone, it’s very hard to get it back. When it’s five times more expensive to acquire a new customer than retain a happy one, you simply can’t afford to lose repeat buyers as a result of poor service. 

Offer as many contact points and methods as possible, and respond quickly when shoppers do get in touch. 73% of consumers say that valuing their time is the most important thing a company can do to provide them with good online customer service. Be visibly active and responsive on your social channels, and consider offering live chat on your site. Ensure shoppers can track their deliveries, and offer free returns if you can – customers will feel far more secure in their purchase if they know the refund or exchange process is straightforward. 

Patagonia provides multiple contact options with details on availability

There’s no shortcut to building trust in ecommerce, but consistency in these four factors will establish your store as a reliable site over time. Check out our other resources on optimizing your site search and merchandising strategy to learn more about improving the user experience on your store.

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