10 ways to build consumer trust in e-commerce

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It can take a matter of milliseconds for some consumers to decide that your website doesn’t appeal to them. Others might linger for a whole minute or two before reaching precisely the same conclusion.

Either way, you’ve lost them. Why is that? Potential reasons could include anything from cumbersome navigation to an irritating popup that never goes away. A common denominator is often a failure of trust.

Unfortunately, there’s no magic template that’ll give your website a guaranteed visit/order/repeat formula. But there is a lot you can do to help engender customer trust. And where there’s trust, there’s trade. Here are our top tips for building trust with customers.

1. Include testimonials

If you receive really good feedback from a happy customer, don’t be bashful about using it. Three to ten words maximum. Include a photo of the person if possible. Celebrity endorsements are harder to come by, but can be worth their virtual weight in gold when it comes to brand trust. Struggling to gain any testimonials? Show you're open to it and encourage feedback - make sure it's on the positive side by going the extra mile in your approach to delivery.

Pencil with sharpener and shavings on notepad

2. Be upfront about charges

Even if a customer has invested a lot of time in choosing a product from your website and is ready to pay, an unexpected charge at the checkout page will make them leave in the blink of an eye. So if there are taxes, packing costs or shipping charges to pay, make this explicit right at the start of the ordering process. Finding the best delivery options for your consumers is essential.

Pile of receipts

3. Do what the customer expects

Make it clear to visitors what will happen when they click on tabs, links and CTAs (calls to action). If you’ve asked people to sign up for a monthly newsletter, for example, resist the temptation to contact them any more frequently than that.

4. Put a place to a name

It’s important for customers to know that, although you are an online business, you have a physical presence. So make sure your ‘About Us’ or ‘Contact Us’ pages include credentials such as a contact number, email address and, ideally, an actual address.

5. Avoid that stock-shot look

Search long and hard enough (not to mention pay out enough) and you may find stock photographs that are more-or-less appropriate to your business. But why not go for a totally unique and authentic look instead? Photographs taken by a professional give you more control and allow you to develop and amplify your own visual identity. 

Girl with long flowing hair in yellow field

6. Be a safe place for shoppers

Security and privacy issues are hyper important to online shoppers even with established retailers like Amazon. So it’s mightily important to reassure customers that their details won’t be used for other purposes. Publish your customer privacy policy and display your SSL certificate symbol, and consider using established e-commerce platforms such as Magento1 or Shopify2.

Chain with a lock in the middle

7. Show off your social

Displaying social media accounts can enhance your e-commerce website’s credibility, and gain customer trust. Conversely, an absence of all social media activity is likely to trigger alarm signals in the minds of potential customers. Having a presence on social media will give social media influencers the opportunity to promote your product, something that can become extremely valuable to the way your brand is perceived by your consumers.  

8. Offer after-sales reassurance

This includes things like providing online order tracking, email notifications, SMS alerts and delivery confirmations. You should also make it easy for customers to get answers to any post-purchase questions they may have about a product’s operation. And, should they have cause to return a product, shoppers need to know that the process will be quick and painless. Providing great customer service will attract consumers back to the site, helping to build a regularly returning customer. 

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9. Get the tone right

If you’re selling medical equipment, you probably don’t want to come across like a street trader. Similarly, a dry and stuffy tone would be inappropriate for a website offering bouncy castle rental. It sounds obvious, but striking the right ‘tone of voice’ is a crucial element of your brand building. It shouldn’t be something you simply trust to instinct.

Rusty old speaker phone

10. Don’t overdo talk of ‘trust'

Just as airlines never advertise on the basis of how safe their airplanes are, you shouldn’t overemphasize the trustworthiness of your business. Explicit references to your brand trust and honesty will merely sow seeds of doubt. Build trust with your consumers in a more subtle and effective way online.