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August 2, 2014
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How to Build Trust on Your eCommerce Website

As Jakob Nielson writes in E-Commerce User Experience , “Trust is hard to build – and easy to lose”. This is especially true for an online business, where your clients will likely never see your face or be able to trade in cash. However, there are quite a few things that you can do to build up a sense of trust, and many things not to do to keep the trust you have earned.

Have a Professional Website

A professional website is to an e-commerce website what a suit is to a salesman. Make sure that information is up to date, free from spelling and coding errors, and free from missing images and broken links. Also important to keeping trust (and clients) is making sure that each page loads quickly, not giving them time to get bored and leave.

Tell them about yourself

Show detailed company information, normally in the form of an “About Us”. Users also like to see that you have your address, phone number and even a company history on the site, even if they are never going to make use of them.

Build on the trust customers have for existing companies

We all learn to trust certain brand names over time, and this can translate over to other companies endorsed by them. This can be taken advantage of by building links (especially hyperlinks) with reputable companies, possibly with a seal of approval logo, carrying trusted and well-known brands, or through actually linking to reputable, independent sources.

Give Complete Information About the Product

Customers, understandably, want to know as much as they can before giving their credit card details away. Give them everything they want to know about the product, including quality photos that show it in detail, availability, and extremely importantly, the full and correct price. Have you ever been angry when you have seen a product advertised for a certain price, only to find that the shipping essentially doubles the cost? Tell your customers early what the shipping is likely to be, and save them the heartache (and mistrust) later on.

Give Them Security

Security of information is very important to people who trade on the Internet, especially those who don’t really understand the technical side. Make sure that you are using a secure server for your transactions, and that the customer knows and trusts in that. Also, make alternative ordering – through fax, phone or mail – available, simple and easy-to-access.

Respect Their Privacy

The issue of personal privacy is extremely important on the Internet. Try not to make people give you sensitive information if they really don’t want to. Do you need to know their birthday to sell them furniture? Make sure that you provide a clear and easy-to-find privacy policy, addressing the reasons for needing some sensitive information, and giving a guarantee that you will not give it out or “spam” them with emails. Also, use “opt-in” rather than “opt-out” marketing for newsletters, promotions and the like. If you trick users into receiving unwanted email by making them have to uncheck checkboxes, they will quickly grow to resent you for filling their Inbox with junk mail.

Have a Good Refund / Return Policy

A free return policy is a very powerful encouragement to buy big, while a bad or seemingly uncaring policy is a definite “trust-breaker”. Once you have a good refund / return policy, make sure that you display it where people will see it.

Let Them Contact You

Being able to talk to a human being is very helpful, especially if the customer is lost or confused with your site. Be contactable by fax, phone, email or mail. Whenever possible, show that a real human being is answering them – use their name when contacting them, end emails with a “regards, John Smith, Customer Relations” rather than “Admin/hd767/db/app”, and try to keep a consistent face with each client.

 

Remember, trust is a difficult thing to manage, but a customer’s trust for your business can quickly lead to loyalty.

Building trust over the internet is all about showing customers that you understand how they are feeling, you know what you are doing, and you will do anything to make their experience easier and more pleasurable.

Nathan Dorey
Nathan Dorey
Nathan has been involved in nearly every aspect of web development for 12 years – from scoping to design, and coding to copywriting. He oversees Technology Matters' Association Suite, bringing together a range of services catered to professional associations.

5 Comments

  1. DP says:

    This is a fantastic post, thanks so much for sharing your knowledge. Best always.

  2. Ben says:

    Nice Post! What helped me a lot to build trust was Online Reviews. I used the Trustbadge reviews widget on my online shop https://www.litespot.co.uk/ to collect and show customer reviews. It’s fairly easy to use. They have many integrations in different shop systems. And it comes with 7 languages and is mobile-optimized. There’s a freemium version available at at http://www.trustbadge.com so you can try yourself if it helps 🙂

  3. Nathan says:

    Thanks! We were JUST discussing how helpful a good review can be, actually, so thumbs up for the recommendation! 🙂

  4. lauren says:

    Customer reviews are great for building trust with potential customers. I for one will never purchase anything without reviews.

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