As retail environments shift towards a more online experience, the way in which customers and businesses interact is also changing. In the absence of physical stores, businesses are relying on elements of design and branding to deliver a welcoming aesthetic.
The popularization of eCommerce has also made it possible for pretty much anyone - including scammers - to create retail websites. The result is new types of fraudulent sites springing up all over the web every day, with many looking authentic and passing off as legitimate businesses.
Naturally, customers can be very wary as a result, with survey statistics showing that 81% of online shoppers felt concerned when shopping on an unfamiliar website. The thing is, when you’re starting an e-commerce store, you’re going to find yourself being viewed as one of these unfamiliar sites to your first customers.
So what can you do to alleviate their concern and prove to your customers that you are trustworthy? That’s the $64 million question, but it’s one we can help you answer. Read on for 4 effective ways you can engender trust in your retail store visitors.
1. Show Social Proof
The simplest way to accrue trust is to show that other people trust you. Social proof is a term that refers to the social and psychological instinct to mimic the actions of others. In the case of your online store, this can take the form of prominently displayed user reviews or testimonials. People will be reassured if they can see that others have used your services and been impressed by them.
Don’t be afraid of less-than-stellar reviews either, as while you might not want to greet potential customers with a raging one-star review, trying to censor any criticism won’t work either. In fact, bad reviews can actually be good for your business. Yes, you read that correctly: bad reviews can be good for business.
There’s an old saying: “if it’s too good to be true, it probably is.” and this is especially relevant in eCommerce where sites that only show five-star reviews often look more suspicious than welcoming.
It’s just not realistic for everyone to like all your products all the time and having a range of opinions presented helps your customers to make an informed decision.
2. Use Trust Signals
Now, you might be thinking what if I don’t have any reviews just yet? Well, getting your first purchase is hard, but every business starts somewhere and there are plenty of other ways to show you are legitimate.
For example, you can add trust badges to your site, with one example being the Accepted Payment Method badge. This is just a logo showing the different credit and debit cards your company accepts, but it adds a sense of familiarity that puts customers at ease. You can also get third-party verified badges by submitting your site to be reviewed by organizations like The Better Business Bureau.
One of the surest ways to earn trust is simply to put time and effort into your site. Investing resources into a high-quality shopping experience speaks volumes to your intent as a business. Professional branding and design engender confidence as people can see that you have put money and work into your business.
3. Establish a Relationship With Your Customers
If you’re failing to attract buyers, it could be that your site feels distant and impersonal. When someone is making their first purchase on your site, they’re about to entrust you with their personal information as well as their hard-earned money.
This puts them in a state of vulnerability and reciprocating some of that vulnerability can go a long way in earning their trust. Use the “About Us” section of your website to show customers the person or people behind the store.
Introduce yourself and tell a bit of your story and we’d recommend including a picture in this section, as it lends that extra personal touch. People tend to respond to a brand with a face behind it, especially if you also include a prominent way to get in touch with and encourage people to reach out with questions.
Blogs And Social Media
Linking your store to social media pages and keeping those pages active is a great way to connect with customers. It shows that you are approachable, as well as allowing you to give customers a glimpse behind the scenes. You can even run polls, competitions, and challenges to really get people involved with your brand.
Adding a blog is crucial to your eCommerce development as it gives you the opportunity to reach customers through content. Populating your site with articles, tips, and tutorials related to your brand shows that you care about their experience with your product.
You can also include an FAQ section to answer common questions, as being able to resolve their issues highlights your industry authority and publicly shows that you’re a company that is willing to go that extra mile even when there’s no revenue to be made.
In-person shopping holds a distinct advantage by offering a physical experience where customers can hold and touch a product before they buy. One of the most common complaints with online shopping is that the product displayed on-site was not an accurate representation of what the customer ended up with.
This can happen for several reasons such as poor lighting in the product photo, not enough details in the product description, and, most frustrating of all, the option to select model or color not being clearly visible.
“What You See Is What You Get”
You need to put as much information as you can on the product page, so buyers know exactly what they’re getting, including all product dimensions and any necessary maintenance information. While it’s definitely worth having a stylish photo to show off your product, don’t forget to include shots from different angles to fully represent it.
Finally, avoid hitting them with any nasty surprises on their way to checkout. Shipping costs, estimated delivery times, and your return policy should all be clearly visible, and sure, there’s the chance that the shipping fees might be a deterrent for them, but if you’re upfront about it, people tend to be much more accepting.
If you choose to wait until they’ve entered their credit card information to tell them about the $15 P&P cost, they’re going to feel annoyed and tricked and you’ll most likely end up not just losing the sale, but also the chance of that customer ever coming back again.
Build Trust Over Time
Of course, the best way to build a trusting relationship is to take your time. First impressions matter but consistency will keep people coming back. A loyal customer is a rare and precious thing and not to be taken lightly. Always treat your customers with respect and they will invariably respond in kind.