When it comes to running an ecommerce business, we’re inclined to believe the adage, “Trust takes years to build, seconds to break, and forever to repair,” and why wouldn’t it, when customers have so many other options for making purchases online? If they don’t believe in your ability to operate an honest enterprise, there are plenty of competitors out there waiting with open arms. You simply can’t afford to slip up. Whoever is able to gain customer trust, however, will be in good shape to retain them and, as a business owner, such customers are one of your most valuable assets.
Here are four keys to establishing customer trust, so your online business can continue to grow its loyal customer base and thrive deep into the future.
Customer Trust Key #1: Make Your Website Attractive & Easy to Navigate
The first thing a new user does when they land on your website is judge it. Even if it’s unintentional, we’re all guilty of this to varying degrees. This means you want that first judgment to be an exceedingly good one.
Check out the following homepage for this company:
While their company is a legitimate one that likely just seems outdated due to their website design, the design is only one of several issues with this page — issues with the potential to hurt customer trust in their business.
Issue #1: Inconsistent Branding
Implementing a vibrant, neon design for the website may be suitable given its status but customers in the market for x-ray equipment are almost all going to be medical professionals. Buying high-end medical technology that costs thousands of dollars from such an outdated site is an odd prospect indeed.
The solution? Build your store’s website for your audience.
When putting together a website, it’s crucial to consider your target audience. If you’re selling products to a younger age group, consider incorporating images of young people enjoying your products into the design. If you’re marketing services to other business owners, make sure your site exudes an appropriate degree of professionalism. It’s okay to get creative, but you don’t want to give off the wrong vibe with the theme of your website because it can adversely affect your bottom line.
Issue #2: Inaccessible & Confusing Policies
The solution? Make your policies easily accessible and jargon-free.
Making sure these two policies are readily available for anyone interested can help keep your business on the right side of the law. By giving courts something concrete to investigate in the event of a lawsuit, you’ll be in a much better position to deal with disgruntled customers and litigations should either ever appear.
Issue #3: Poor Site Organization
While having a quirky layout can be fun for customers, if they struggle to find what they’re looking for, then they’re going to bounce off your website. Finding success as an ecommerce store is predicated on customers easily finding your products and being able to buy them without much hassle.
The solution? Incorporate a site-wide menu.
To make sure you’re organized, implement a menu that allows customers to quickly find your most important products and services. Doing so will make on-site navigation much easier for visitors, who may be curious about what you’re selling but don’t have time to dig around.
With a well-thought-out menu you can:
- Make your legal policies easily accessible
- Show your phone number and other contact information to customers
- Connect visitors to your available products, FAQ, and blog
By steering clear of the three issues outlined above, you’ll be much more likely to gain and retain the trust of your customers. It may seem mundane in the grand scheme of things, but a user’s first impression is enormously important.
Customer Trust Key #2: Make Sure the Checkout Process is Smooth
Users may take a glance at your website and instantly evaluate it, but even if that evaluation is good, it means little if they’re unable to make the desired purchase. Your ability to turn those users into paying customers will determine how successful your business is. Doing so effectively requires a reliable, secure checkout process.
A successful customer transaction where money safely moves from their bank account to your own, involves the services of multiple parties. For your convenience, many ecommerce service providers like Shopify and BigCommerce bundle those services in one place.
These ecommerce platforms provide a secure gateway for your business to process transactions, connect you to suitable payment processors based on your particular needs, and often even help you set up your merchant account. However, they don’t work for everyone.
High-Risk Ecommerce Businesses
There are many viable payment processing options out there if you’re running a standard ecommerce store. Unfortunately, many ecommerce businesses are considered high-risk businesses by banks and require specialized high-risk merchant accounts to simply accept payments.
Members of certain industries are automatically lumped into this category by banks, regardless of how legitimate their business appears. It’s crucial that you understand if your company is a high-risk one, so you can look into the appropriate payment channels if needed.
Customer Trust Key #3: Get Proper Accreditations & Highlight Them
When someone lands on your website and gets hooked onto one of your calls-to-action, they will likely seek further verification that their purchase is a safe one prior to checkout. That’s where professional accreditations come into play.
Here are three you can obtain that will help instill confidence in your users and let them know that your business is legitimate:
Customer Trust Builder #1: The Better Business Bureau (BBB)
The Better Business Bureau is a non-profit organization that’s been around for over 100 years, built with the intention of punishing fraudulent businesses and promoting honest ones.
After operating for over one year, your business is able to apply for BBB accreditation. In order to receive full recognition, however, you’ll need to comply with the BBB’s set standards and regulations. Once you’ve formally been accredited, you’ll be able to put their seal on your website.
Customer Trust Builder #2: Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS)
PCI DSS compliance may sound like something you’ll be able to leave in the hands of a capable payment processor. Think again.
While whoever handles credit and debit transactions for your business is mandated by major card brands (Visa, MasterCard) to be PCI DSS compliant, it also behooves business entities to attain this accreditation. Specifically, if you use any form of cloud computing software in conjunction with your card processing (hint: most ecommerce businesses do), compliance will help assure everyone that you take data security seriously.
It’s also a matter of comparing the cost versus the benefit. The severity of one single data breach could financially cripple your business and destroy the trust of anyone who has ever used your website. Definitely not an ideal situation to land yourself in.
Although PCI DSS compliance requires time and money to pull off (dependent on the size of your business), taking the appropriate measures to comply will protect you and your customers. Letting them know how serious you are about safeguarding their card information will assuage any fears they may have of shopping online via your website.
Customer Trust Builder #3: Posting a “Featured In” Section
While this is not exactly something you can get certified for, listing major websites or companies you’ve been quoted by works in a similar way as actual certifications: To increase consumer confidence in your product. Think about it: Would you be more likely to trust a website that has been quoted by famous newspapers and Top 100 websites, or one that hasn’t?
Alternatively, if you have a wide range of well-known customers, try listing off a handful of major ones someplace visible on your website. Ask them first, of course, and if they agree then put their logo where people can see it. Seeing that others trust you will help make it easier for your customers to do the same when making a purchase.
Customer Trust Key #4: Get Your Name Out There
Making a name for yourself in your industry is beneficial for a variety of reasons — a big one being that it increases your trustworthiness in the eyes of consumers.
There are different ways to lodge your brand name firmly in the minds of internet denizens. Some require more money and less time, and others require a substantial amount of time but a lot less money. How you focus your efforts largely depends on the way you want to run your business (and its financial resources).
Getting your website to appear at the top of a user’s Google query can be done organically (free), or via Google AdWords (paid). If you’re aiming for that “free” traffic, you’re going to have to put in some legwork.
There are already countless online resources for ecommerce businesses to navigate if they’re looking to improve their organic traffic but, in short, you will need:
- To write pieces for other websites: This establishes your knowledge and authority and gets you valuable backlinks to your site
- A well-structured website built to target keywords you hope to rank for
- A regularly updated blog where you display your industry expertise
Also, answering reporter queries can help you reach new consumers as well. Leveraging your expertise doing so is an easy way to establish yourself as trustworthy, and it can improve your traffic, too.
Unfortunately, even after working on all of this for months and years, there are still no guarantees. It’s a non-stop battle to get to the top of search results for keywords related to your industry (and, when you finally arrive, to stay there). However, many ecommerce companies survive primarily on this form of traffic and are now reaping the rewards as trusted members of the online business community.
Google AdWords might be considered primarily a marketing tool, but it’s also a helpful tool for building the credibility of your business. Not to mention, it can help you immediately by:
- Getting your name in front of customers who are on the lookout for products in your industry
- Making sales immediately rather than waiting for organic traffic to develop
- Reconnecting with users who already visited your site
- Measuring how effective your sales funnel is (if you’re not converting any customers, then you may need to tweak some things on your website)
Similar to improving your organic rankings, using paid ads effectively will take time to master. Yet, if you want to start establishing yourself as an active member of your industry and getting your brand in the minds of customers (and hopefully make some sales as well), it’s a worthwhile investment to make.
There’s a lot of noise on the internet, and it can make life for consumers difficult. If you can prove that you’re running a legit business and not just out to make a quick buck, customers will notice. Proving your legitimacy and creating that business to customer trust takes energy — it’s not something that simply happens without targeted effort. But if you invest the necessary time and resources into your website, embrace transparency, attain appropriate accreditations, and market yourself effectively on Google, you can build a reputation of trustworthiness that generates more customers and improves your bottom line as well.