eCommerce

Trust Signals at Checkout: How to Optimize Your Checkout and Put Customers at Ease

There’s nothing worse than falling at the final hurdle. 

That’s true for eCommerce stores as much as it is for athletes. The last thing you want is for a consumer to leave your site before they complete the checkout process.

It’s a common occurrence, however, and it often comes down to a perceived lack of trust. An updated 2016 study by the Baymard Institute found 18% of consumers abandon their cart because they don’t trust the site with their payment information. In further research, Baymard observed trust largely comes down to a page’s design and the user’s “gut feeling.” 

When consumers are on the cusp of checking out, you need to do everything you can to reassure them — particularly if a significant part of your consumer base is relatively new to online shopping. Improve your checkout process and reduce cart abandonment by implementing the following five trust signals. 

Add Trust Badges to Demonstrate Your Commitment to Security

It’s important to portray a secure image throughout the checkout process, writes digital media journalist Smith Willas, but particularly when the consumer is about to make payment. Consumers need visible proof that it’s safe to enter their card details, and the best way to do that is to include trust badges like an SSL certificate, a Norton or McAfee badge and the logos of all payment options.

An SSL trustmark is a must-have for mobile checkouts, says freelance copywriter Suzanne Scacca. “Without one, the address bar will not display the lock sign or the green https domain name — both of which let customers know that the website has extra encryption,” she says. 

Stores can also piggyback off the trust that other brands have built, adds Scacca. She points to stores like Sephora and 6pm who leverage PayPal and Amazon’s reputation, respectively, to increase consumer trust.

It’s not enough to display a trust badge, however. Founder of skill-building platform for marketers CXL, Peep Laja encourages brands to explain what the terms mean. Those who aren’t tech-savvy may not understand what SSL or HTTPS stand for or what being “secure” really means. By describing your trust badges in plain English, you can make sure they benefit every type of consumer.

Don’t Hide Important Information

Creating a trustworthy checkout involves being open and honest about the entire process. That starts with showing consumers precisely what they are about to order, says Acquire’s Director of Operations Sam Suthar. “Offering complete transparency helps build trust,” he says. “Make sure to tell users exactly what to expect when they unpack their shipped parcel by giving them an order review summary just before completing checkout.”

Don’t forget to show any additional fees like shipping charges and taxes. Failing to do so can increase your cart abandonment rate. Customers feel cheated when brands add taxes and shipping at the very end of the checkout process, writes Csaba Zajdo, OptiMonk Founder. He recommends brands borrow a page from FootLocker’s checkout playbook, who increase transparency and trust by displaying expected taxes and shipping costs as soon as a consumer clicks the checkout button.

It’s not just additional fees stores should endeavor to display at checkout, says eCommerce strategist Nicole Blanckenberg. You can head off potential questions by including links to your store’s most important resource pages. Your privacy, shipping and returns policies should be visible, so should FAQs and your store’s terms and conditions.

man on smartphone; trust signals at checkout concept

Show You Have Support Standing By

Great eCommerce stores are built around brilliant customer experiences — just ask Amazon. You can offer world-class support before and after purchase, but it’s all for nothing if you don’t help customers when they are trying to pay.

Any number of issues can happen at checkout, but you can overcome them all by offering several ways for customers to get in touch. As The Good’s Jon MacDonald says: “A little hand-holding can reassure prospects and help remove any lingering doubts.”

Brenda Barron at Proteus Themes recommends displaying a customer service phone number on your checkout pages. Consumers are bound to have questions on everything from the products they are buying to your returns policies. If they can’t speak to someone about these issues, they will probably leave. 

“By displaying your phone number on the checkout page, you’re giving your customers an easy way to contact you,” she writes. “You can then answer their questions, solve any issues they might have, and even guide them through the checkout process towards a successful purchase.”

Live chat is also invaluable, says business writer Sharon Hurley Hall. Plus, it has been shown to increase conversions. Don’t just use it as a way to assuage consumer concerns, however. You can also use live chat conversations to identify common questions and concerns, and then address them throughout your website. If done successfully, it should mean there’s less need for support in the future.

Improve the Payment Experience

Encouraging consumers to enter their payment details isn’t just a case of making your checkout look secure. Increasing the number of payment options available can also increase trust. 

It’s no longer just about Visa and Mastercard, writes Nathan Thompson at Snipcart. Apple Pay, PayPal and other digital wallets are popular, and consumers want to choose the best one for them. Because all these other payment options are secure, you’ll also be increasing trust in your store by including them.

New payment provider Klarna can also help put customers at ease with their purchase, writes the team at Reviews.io. Specifically, the buy-now-pay-later service does away with the guilt that consumers can feel about making impulsive online purchases. There’s no risk, either. If they don’t like the products, consumers know they don’t have to wait around for a refund because they haven’t paid for the product.

Increasing trust at checkout doesn’t end when customers make payment. Purchase confirmation should be displayed immediately, says the team at Devex, and emailed to customers, too. The confirmation should include a receipt of payment, details of the purchase, a customer support phone number and delivery information.

Smartphone displays payment app; trust signals at checkout concept

Don’t Require Customers to Create an Account

Consumers are extremely reluctant to hand over their personal details to brands they don’t know, says Khalid Saleh, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer at Invesp Consulting. Just because they want to buy your products doesn’t mean they want to create an account and trust you with their data. Most would rather skip buying altogether, he says.

Saleh has a point. Requiring consumers to create an account was the primary reason for cart abandonment in Baymard’s study.  What better way to signal trust to consumers than to forgo asking for it at all?

Most consumers understand the information they need to provide to make a purchase successfully, says web developer Jason Resnick. If you ask them to trust you with more, you’ll risk losing the customer for good. That doesn’t mean you can’t ask consumers to register at all. Resnick recommends doing so only after customers have completed their purchase.

Graham Charlton at educational resource The UK Domain also recommends that stores ask for registration after checkout. Given that you have the email and only need a password, it’s pretty easy for customers to do so. 

Earning Trust Doesn’t Stop at the Checkout

The consumer experience doesn’t end at checkout, and neither should your efforts win your customers’ trust. Even the most legitimate and trustworthy checkout process can be ruined by an inability to follow through on your promise.

Delays in delivery, shipping the wrong item or even a data breach can instantly destroy any trust you’ve established and lead to the kind of consumer reviews that make it even harder to win trust. 

That’s why you need to work hard to improve your fulfillment, increase security and deliver an exceptional experience to ensure consumers continue to shop and trust your brand in the future.

Images by:  ymgerman/©123RF.com, freestocks, Mika Baumeister