After analysing the purchase funnel in an online shop and its 3 main stages – browsing, visit, and purchase; broadly analysing the measures we can take to improve our customers’ shopping experience, supporting all actions associated with each purchase funnel stage; and examining in more depth the first set of measures to improve shopping experience, which is promoting your store’s online presence, this week we will examine the second set of measures: building trust in your store customers.
Even though inspiring trust in customers can be difficult, particularly if your store has been recently created, there are a number of aspects that must be taken care of to display the necessary seriousness so that customers can start to trust you. Let us focus on the main aspects related to the “first visit”, that is to say, to generating trust on first sight, as, after a customer buys something, he will be much more trusting (or mistrusting) depending on his shopping experience (receiving his order on time, being charged what was agreed, things going well, etc.)
Let us group all the measures that can be taken to generate trust into 4 main categories.
Design is very important for an online store, as for many other online sites, given that it is what customers first see. Although, as in real life, sometimes a “ramshackle” place can be good – there are endless cases of grimy restaurants where they serve fabulous food – if shoppers get a bad first impression, they will be led to seek other sites that look more trustworthy. A very clear visual example is the comparison between two online shore stores: an standard store, with a rather shoddy design, and the Calzadoo website, which has been carefully designed down to the very last detail:
When we see both stores, we derive a perception of quality and trust from each of them – and this first impression is very hard to overcome, particularly when it is a bad one. It should be taken into account that there are still many users who highly mistrust online stores, and so design should not be “one more reason” for them not to buy online. You can use the design of your online store as one more weapon in your arsenal, to generate such a positive first impression that, together with the following elements, they will make users’ purchases easier.
Of all aspects of design, all those related to online store usability are particularly important. We will not examine these aspects in depth, as in this blog we have already talked at length about usability in e-commerce websites – about usability and user experience in the shopping cart as well as form usability and usability in the checkout process. The simpler the process, the least likely will it be that users find something “odd” and mistrust is generated.
Security and electronic fraud are highly worrisome issues for online shoppers. Just remember the news published on the Internet Retailer about a study that found that 53% of users were concerned about fraud and security when shopping online.
Taking these data into account, you must do your best to make your online store secure, using technologies such as SSL (Security Socket Layer), auditing your store’s security, and being always aware of what is going on in your store. But in order to generate trust, it is not enough for the store to be secure – you must also convey this to users. This is something that large online stores, like Amazon, do very well, clearly reflecting aspects related to security in their online store.
Trying to achieve a certain degree of “familiarity” and closeness
Achieving a certain degree of “familiarity” is closely related to the previous aspect. This can be achieved in multiple ways, starting by including “logos” related to security and payment in your online store which may be familiar to your customers, such as PayPal, Visa, MasterCard, etc. In this way, you will benefit in several ways. Firstly, you will strengthen your position as regards security, as you will display elements that users tend to associate with secure payment. You should always think about perception rather than about reality. That is to say, displaying the Visa logo does not mean that your shop is more secure, but when we as users see familiar logos which we associate with secure payment, something clicks in our heads. In a way, users will quickly examine your website, and any points you can score will bring you closer to achieving trust.
In addition, you can also make use of social media to achieve this closeness. Links to your Twitter, Facebook, YouTube accounts, etc. can be positive, particularly if these accounts are active, as customers can access your accounts, see that you interact with other buyers, and realise that there is a serious company behind the online store. The next image shows how the footer of the “El Ganso” website includes many of the elements mentioned: logos and payment methods, a logo showing that they use SSL, links to their social media accounts, and a customer service email. There is not much which you could add to these elements – perhaps a customer service line, if you can afford paying someone to answer the phone during working hours.
And you can achieve even more closeness through social media. Even though I am not particularly convinced about Facebook’s social plugins due to aesthetic reasons and load time, it is true that if you have active Facebook followers or a powerful fan page, you can make use of social plugins to achieve greater familiarity with your users. If customers enter an online website and see that a number of users have “liked” the store page, and some of them are their friends, the store will have achieved greater closeness while allowing users to contrast their previous store experiences with their friends.
Establishing clear “rules of the game”
Every online store has its own “rules of the game” – that is to say, a number of privacy, security, and returns policies. Many of these policies are directly derived from the legislation in force, be it European or national, but others are directly established by the store. In some cases, some online stores use these policies to improve on what is being done in their sector, and are more flexible about returns, follow the best possible practices, etc. Even in “worst-case scenarios”, when we just comply with the minimum conditions required by the applicable legislation, at least in Spain, users shopping in online store are protected by a number of policies which even improve on the conditions for physical stores. The problem is that users are unaware of their rights, and online stores usually try to “hide” users’ rights out of fear or ignorance.
You can use these “rules of the games” for your own benefit, clearly stating them on your website, which will allow your users to be clearly aware of the applicable policies, and in many cases will result in additional trust. That is to say, taking into account that Spanish law allows online store users to return any product bought within 7 days, with no penalties and at no expense to them (except for the direct cost of the return), why not let your users know in your website ? Taking into account that most online stores don’t make use of this possibility, clearly indicating that you accept returns within 7 days will allow you to use what are regarded as “obligations”, turning them into a benefit for you. With regard to this kind of issue, you should always seek the advice of attorneys specialising in new technologies, such as Abanlex, in such a way that you know what your obligations as a seller are, and can even use them in your own benefit. Some time ago, we talked at some length about using returns policies to turn your shoppers into customers – I encourage you to read the post if you are interested in this topic.