Published on December 08, 2013 Building trust through choice in your online store
Trust is a fundamental building block for turning your shopping cart visitors into paying customers. As a store owner, what can you do in order to build trust and increase website conversions?
A key part of building trust is understanding the role that trust plays in an online purchase decision for your store’s customers. Basically, in order for a customer to make a purchase on your website, they must first:
- Notice your website and products
- Establish an interest in buying your products
- Feel the need to purchase your products (as opposed to competitor products or substitutes)
- Understand the quality and benefits of buying your products
- Feel that your pricing, payment, shipping and returns terms are the right ones for them
- Experience a smooth and secure flow through the e-commerce transaction.
You can establish awareness and interest for your products through external site promotion, through drawing attention to your products in home page sliders, and through advertising, but getting them from awareness to purchasing takes trust. In an online world where people still get their credit card details stolen every day in spite of the best attempts of banks, customers are always wary of buying from someone new. There are things you can do to help customers over the trust barrier and turn browsers into buyers in your store. Here are some of them.
Note that by giving customers choice during the catalog browse and shopping cart purchase process, you can increase the rates of conversion by making customers feel more in control of the sale transaction and not at your mercy.
Choice of Payment Providers
Offering just one type of payment makes things easy for you as a merchant, but not so as a customer. For example if you offer credit card only, what about people whose credit card is being reissued and they are waiting for a new one in the mail? Or people who are in the process of getting a new credit card issued because they are switching banks? Or people who just don’t like entering their credit card details online? These people might be seeking to buy from someone who offers bank transfer and will abandon the cart if they don’t see that payment method available when they go through checkout.
Choice of Shipping options
End customers won’t care that much about what delivery option that you offer, but what they will care about is the speed and cost of that option relative to the product that they are buying. If a customer is buying a last minute Christmas gift then they might be willing to spend extra on Express post, but if it’s a gift for someone that they don’t need for three months out, or the product they are buying is a spare part for something that’s already working, they might seek the cheapest possible postage option. If you only offer one postage option, you do make shipping options simpler but you also run the risk of not meeting the needs of all of your customers.
Even if you are offering free shipping store wide, you might also want to consider offering an upgrade to Express Post or a shorter turnaround rush rate at a premium. It might be just what your customers need and make the difference between a sale or an abandoned cart.
Other ways to build trust
Show third party logos
One of the easiest ways to build trust is through endorsements from well known parties that are already trusted by consumers. Security companies like GeoTrust (who own the Verisign and RapidSSL brands) or Comodo. These companies issue the software certificates (called “SSL certificates”) that enable web servers to encrypt credit card and private information as they travel across the Internet. To have a certificate issued for your website’s domain name you must first be authenticated by that company – which can involve anything from having to reply to an email on a pre-defined email address (to prove you have enough control over the domain name to set it up), or to manual verification of your business number, address, telephone number and owner’s identity. Once you have one of these certificates issued, displaying their logo on your site can help confirm in the mind of potential buyers that you are a legitimate business. Some of these logos also have attached code with them which allows your website visitors to click on them and see a popup with additional verification information. These cost more than standard issue certificates, but can be well worth it if you’re selling in an industry where consumers are more nervous, or you are up against larger competitors who are all using these types of certificates already.
In addition to showing verification logos from SSL providers, there are a number of other verification logos that you might want to add to your site. If your payment provider is very well known amongst your customer group (e.g., PayPal) then a verification logo that you are a verified seller with PayPal could help reassure potential buyers.
Or if you belong to an industry association or hold an industry accreditation then showing this on your website can also help. In the offline world, professionals like Doctors, Lawyers and Trade services professionals frequently show their certificates in frames in the waiting room of their office or practice to reassure visitors to the website.
Complete your policies and publish them
Customers get frustrated if they expect one thing and then find out another when they get to checkout. That’s one of the quickest ways to get carts abandoned. It’s therefore important that as a store owner you make your policies clear and publish them clearly as well. Don’t try to hide your shipping policies in your terms and conditions, tell your potential buyers how you protect the privacy of their information, and make it clear what you will and won’t accept for returns. Do you accept returns on a change of mind? It’s the law that you must take returns on faulty products, but it’s up to you as a retailer to decide what you should do about returns for a change of mind. Make your policies clear and publish them to help reduce the chances of checkout-shock and to give customers exactly what they think they are getting.
Likewise, make sure that you have completed all the pages in your site to explain what your policies are. At a minimum you should have policies for privacy, shipping and returns, and have an About Us and Contact Us page that gives actual information about your company. If there’s no information about your business and who you are on your website, then why should they trust you? You don’t have to publish your full name or address or photos of your kids to be personal – your postal address, Business Number, and a contact phone number (that works) is normally enough to give customers more confidence that you are in fact a legitimate business.
Professional shopping cart and checkout experience
A professional design that is tailored to your business’ brand makes an immediate and positive impact in the minds of potential customers compared to something that is disjointed, untidy and incomplete. Take advantage of the ecommerce features of your shopping cart application and the design team’s skills (if you are using a cart with design options rather than something you have to do yourself) as this will ultimately help you instill a positive experience in the minds of your customers from the first time they arrive at your website.