Online store and customer trust
It’s been known for a long time that people in general are happy to make purchases in places that they know and are familiar with, in order to feel comfortable and safe about the process of transaction. This applies not only to stores operating in a fixed form, but also to online stores – the best examples are Amazon or Argos who meet a good reputation at dealing goods online. Of course, the most important factors that encourage shopping are the quality of goods and their price, but that’s not all you should consider. The customer’s trust is usually gained in a completely different way. But what is it? Online store and customer trust have to be tackled from a different angle, an angle that isn’t always perceived.
Online store and customer trust – what to look out for?
Building trust is a long and steady process. In fact, the customer tends to form the final opinion about a shop only when he makes the purchase and receives the goods. In other words, upon assessing the goods, shipping time, customer care etc. However, in order for the transaction to take place in the first place (i.e. the online purchase), we must ensure the potential customer that our e-store is secured very well and the bank data which will be processed won’t be exposed anywhere outside of the website. We need to assure the customer that they won’t be risking anything by opting for our online transfer. We should manifest this feeling of security not only on the transaction/check out webpages, but elsewhere too, because a lot of customers will do their research before even adding anything to the basket. The list below will highlight the primary points:
The ‘About us/me’ webpage
Nowadays it’s not enough to simply list the company’s history, you also have to provide a brief description of the offer, the team, photographs, short notes about the past collaborations and most of all any info regarding the security of the website. In other words, the customer should be able to find out anything about you and your website. You should provide them the means of trusting you on a plate and the customer should instantly know who he’s about to collaborate with or if it’s worth using your services. There’s no denying that personal mentions like these arouse the trust and build a positive, credible image of the e-store and people that work for the company.
It’s also worth to show customers some data on the previous years of operation on the market, how many people used the store’s offer, how many products were sold, etc. This is very very personal data, that not many businesses will be confident in sharing, which is why it is optional. However, if you do decide to go for it then it could make a lot of positive impact and impress your customers. Even if the data doesn’t show some fantastic results or incredible turnout, they will still be thankful for sharing such private intel with them. Therefore numerical data, provided in an accessible form positively affect the company’s image – especially if it’s really good and the company shows of results that are worth boasting about.
You have to keep in mind, however, that being semi-vague about the data is also vital. Firstly, you don’t want to expose the names and details of your past customers. That’s a big no-no. The only place where your customers’ names should appear is on the reviews/testimonials page where they allow it. Secondly, if you expose too much of your data – down to the smallest percentage or detail – you’re risking providing the competition info which they shouldn’t be aware of. For example, if you make a list of your best/worst selling months of the year you’ll be providing the competition with invaluable data. I.e. if you show that in November/December of previous years you’ve made the most progress/sales, they could use that pattern to their advantage whereby they could increase their advertising during these months to make sure that all potential customers are theirs. So, these are just some of the few examples which outline that releasing too much info to the public could be dangerous.
Opinions of satisfied users
When we purchase a product in the online store, we’re often guided by suggestions/opinions of other users (past customers), especially if the site is independent and unknown. In the end, everyone with good common sense will be frightened of risking their personal details and bank info on a non-mainstream site. Thus they will reach out to reviews of other customers who have purchased goods of these sites before. If they are positive, and there’s many of them they’ll be more inclined to make a purchase, because they become aware that the company has dealt with other people and it’s not a scam – the goods and service is real and trustworthy.
Positive feedback also helps to build the company’s image. But all feedback is crucial, which is why you should have the reviews/testimonials sub-page on your website, where customers can leave behind genuine impressions/opinions. Relying only on those made on Google is insufficient, because those that visit your website won’t bother with going back and forth between your site and Google.
Now the question remains how you should deal with unflattering opinions? – it’s simple, you leave them. Because the negative feedback is also important for the potential customer. If they only see flowery opinions on your page it won’t be a problem, but it might be slightly suspicious. Customer’s expect full honesty from people, and it’s very rare that all of your reviews will be 5 stars. We should remove only those that grossly violate the e-store regulations – i.e. they are offensive, vulgar or completely detached from reality. If a customer claims something that didn’t happen at all, you also have the right to protect yourself and you can do that by removing such comments. It would be good if you spent an hour per week moderating such reviews/comments or even replying to some if it’s a possibility e.g. on your Facebook fanpage.
Implementing the possibility of immediate contact to improve the online store and customer trust
Email and phone solutions are the priority. Contact details should always be provided so that customers know when and how to get in touch. But the owner/employees of a company’s e-store don’t always have the opportunity to immediately answer user questions or queries. A popular solution called ‘on-site chat window’ is used by many, allowing literally immediate contact, but those who rely on a small number of employees and don’t have a specialised customer-service team might reckon this is a bad choice.
Nevertheless, it is worth assuring the customer that he can contact the shop staff at any time and ask about the product, delivery, request goods/special needs etc. Unfortunately, if you set up an e-store and consistently sell goods you will have to accept the fact that you’ll need at least one member of customer service team who will be able to serve the customers as soon as possible. If your communication is lacking, it’s delayed or worst of all, non-existent you’re risking a bad opinion and potential loss of the customer. In the end, there’s always people with queries, problems, issues and it’s vital that the e-store is accompanied by 24/7 response team who will be able to help. The possibility of immediate contact helps to build trust.
SSL certificate crucial for online store and customer trust
The customer of the e-store always wants to be sure that his personal data and transferred money won’t fall into the wrong hands. If they do then your website might even be shut down, so it’s vital that you take care of your security as early as possible, and be sure that it’s reliable. Transaction security is ensured by an SSL certificate. The store must make it clear that all connections are encrypted, otherwise the user will receive information that the connection is not secure – and this won’t be a good start to cooperation, right? There’s nothing more important that a transaction that has gone down smoothly, easily and securely – if it fails to do so then your e-store will soon fail as well.
Online store and customer trust – Final summary
Beyond all of the arguments mentioned above, you can easily gain customer confidence/trust by offering samples of products, such as cosmetics and food. After all, there’s nothing better than offering physical evidence of the quality of your products. So, having a showroom or a physical shop alongside your e-store always helps. Furthermore, it’s very important to disclose all data, including real prices and shipping costs right from the start. If the customer stumbles across a different price than the one originally promised, he will feel cheated. A lot of companies mistakenly do this by adding shipping costs right at the end of a transaction, in spite of misleading the customer that delivery is free. The trust is also affected by transparent regulations, the assurance of possibility of returns or exchange of goods and provision of all kinds of guarantees. Lastly, the appearance of the e-store, a clear arrangement of elements, easy navigation between the product pages, good readability and language are not without significance, and should all be considered along with the rest of the features we mentioned above.