So far we’ve discussed driving eCommerce revenue by using advanced marketing tactics and investing in user experience. If smart marketing builds qualified leads and UX increases conversions, focusing on user trust can help you earn loyal repeat customers. This third and final post in our series on driving revenue offers specific steps a direct-to-consumer brand can take to earn customer loyalty.
Conner Forrest at TechRepublic reports that almost half of consumers say a lack of trust stops them from shopping online. Take China, the largest eCommerce market in the world. Shoppers there care much more about the credibility of the vendor and product than they do the price, according to Preeti Kumar and Evelyn Ke at Jing Daily.
The key to earning user trust is transparency across the board. Customers want to know what you’re doing with their information and how. Trust certificates are a great step forward, but that’s not all there is.
Being crystal-clear about how your site secures shopper data will earn trust from customers. There are four ways to go about this:
- Securing the store. Use SSL encryption and certificates, and communicate this to your customers.
- Ensuring compliance. Let your customers know you are on the right side of the law. Be proactive and show you care. When another piece of legislation like GDPR goes into effect, share with customers the specific steps you’re taking to be compliant.
- Providing clear returns and refunds. Be upfront (and consistent) about how you handle returns. This is all about easing fear — from a customer’s first interaction with your store all the way through to order fulfillment.
Securing the Store
Ronald Dod at Business2Community calls security one of the non-negotiables for any eCommerce site, and for good reason. Even though the world’s been shopping online for two decades, customers are still wary of their information being stolen.
Dod recommends starting with the basics: switching to HTTPS protocol and choosing an SSL certification. What does that mean, exactly?
- HTTPS: This is quite literally the secure version of the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP). Using the protocol protects against intruders and is preferred by Google.
- SSL: The certificate is required for HTTPS protocol, and can be purchased either directly from your server or a third party. As you gather customer information on your eCommerce site, the SSL certificate scrambles the data so that it cannot be accessed by intruders.
“SSL certificates are a must for transactions,” says Shawn Hess, then-director of IT at VoIP Supply. “To validate our credit cards we use a payment gateway that uses live address verification services right on our checkout. This prevents fraudulent purchases by comparing the address entered online to the address they have on file with their credit card company.”
You should also communicate this security to your customers to actually build the trust. Andy Hagans at MonetizePros writes that there is plenty of evidence to suggest that trust security badges positively impact conversion rate and revenue. Rounak Ahmed at WeDevs reports that 7 out of 10 customers have refused to continue with a transaction because they didn’t trust the process — and over half of those who canceled said they would have continued if there had been a trust seal present.
Specifically, Hagans recommends a handful of trust badges that should prove most effective:
- Trust Lock
These are the trust badges most customers recognize.
A second aspect of investing in trust is to confirm that you are compliant with security and privacy regulations. The No. 1 way to be security-compliant is by following the Payment Card Industry (PCI) standards. The PCI Council was formed as an independent entity by major credit cards to ensure vendors keep card information secure.
The other way to build trust is to stay ahead of changing privacy laws. If you do business in Europe, you (and your customers) are already being affected by GDPR. Instead of simply responding to these regulations, be proactive with your policies and open with your customers about your efforts to protect their information. Adam Deflorian at Forbes calls this “proactive compliance” and recommends using GDPR to inform your steps toward data regulation compliance elsewhere.
For both securing your eCommerce store and ensuring compliance, you could simply choose an eCommerce platform that fulfills these security measures for you. Marketing consultant Kunjal Panchal writes that choosing the right eCommerce platform is one of the first steps to building a sustainable eCommerce store.
“The eCommerce platform on which you build your online store has a key role to play in the overall security and sturdiness of the website,” she says.
Marcia Yudkin at PracticalEcommerce includes it in her list of minimum elements that eCommerce sites should include.
- Clear language on what constitutes the user, website and third parties for the purpose of the policy.
- Direct information on how (and why) personal data is collected on the eCommerce site.
- An overview of what you do with this personal data once it’s been collected on the site.
- Steps the visitor can take to make sure their data is protected or deleted.
But it’s not only about the customer. Tyler McConville, CEO of Toronto-based agency NAV43, points out that privacy policies are one of four pages that Google takes into consideration to build their TrustRank (along with your About page, terms of service and contact information).
Providing Clear, Flexible Return and Refund Policies
You can build trust with customers by providing transparency shipping, return and refund policies. As Matthew Hudson at The Balance writes, “an exchange is better than no sale, but a satisfied customer is more important than a return policy. Never let your employees be about ‘the policy.’ Encourage them to be about serving the customer experience.” In other words, a customer-centric return policy is a great way to build trust and the likelihood of return customers.
Ecommerce Nation makes this step a simple, two-part process in their guide to creating a trustworthy site:
- 1. Keep your shipping and return policies visible.
- 2. Offer easy exchanges and returns.
Pamela Hazelton at PracticalEcommerce confirms the importance of flexible policies. She reports that more than 60 percent of customers look at the return policy before making a purchase. Not only that, but nearly half say they are more likely to buy from a shop with a lenient return policy.
Bringing it All Together: The eCommerce Experience Customers Expect
Taking each of the steps outlined above will help you connect with customers beyond appeals to price or marketing. Instead, they will help you speak to customers through a common understanding of trus.
“Winning consumer trust is one of the biggest ways to set your business up for success,” digital marketing consultant Shane Barker writes. Taking the time to find ways to build up that trust can help you get an edge on competition and increase your company’s revenue.
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