Shopping on the internet can seem impersonal at times, but it doesn’t need to be. Consumers who are used to thoroughly examining products when they buy offline will need a lot more than your word to prove that your site, and products, are the real deal.
There are many drawbacks currently associated with online shopping. They include:
- Phishing scams
- Data theft
- Credit card fraud
- Fake online sites
- Poor quality products
- Virus-infected websites
- Poor service
The list goes on. In fact, it was for some of these reasons that Newsweek in 1995 published an article, “Why the Internet won’t be Nirvana”. How wrong they were. Today, there are various ways to counter the certain vulnerabilities of online shopping.
The use of trust elements have made arguments against online shopping obsolete. It is therefore important to include various types to reassure customers that they are safe when interacting on your website.
Businesses need to verify from their hosting providers about security plug-ins they can add to their website. If you have a good managed domain and hosting service, you can get support installing some programs on your site. On the other hand, a dedicated hosting package means you will perform all plug-in and extensions yourself.
Invest in design
It is common knowledge that a smartly designed product often adds exclusivity to its identity. Likewise, a neatly designed website has a psychological advantage. The impression that time and money was invested into your business increases its perceived value.
But that’s not all. Here are few other graphical features that build trust for your consumers:
Prove that your website is alive
There are several websites out there hoping to make a profit from buyers. But how can buyers trust a them if the last entry was in March 2015? This could also mean that the products are either non-existent or expired. Website owners should regularly update their pages with rich content and include features that prove they are current.
A calendar or timer is just not enough. The most convincing sign is having fresh content or regularly updated articles on your site. Some ingenious sites use an embedded social media plug-in, with live conversations going on. In addition to building trust, regularly updated sites are easily indexed by Google search bots, making them appear more visible to search engine pages.
Humanize your site
One of the major reasons behind Clifford Stoll’s 1995 article in Newsweek was the absence of ‘human connection’. True, the seemingly impersonal quality of web interaction can be limiting, but this can be resolved by unmasking the team behind your business. An ‘about us’ page revealing real images of members of your business, and a short blurb of their bios, has proven to be helpful in this regard.
Another humanising feature can be a live chat option with a real person on the other end. If you have the time and resources to make it a 24-hour service, that’s good. Otherwise, you can set up your live chat to be available at peak periods when your customers are the most active.
Include your contact information or geographical location
Many fraudulent websites prefer to conceal their identity or address because of their shady intentions, and would rather conclude their business via email or phone. For this reason, many sales ready customers avoid websites that do not include proper details of their location or alternative contact information.
Increase your site’s relevance and trustworthiness by adding a complete contact hyperlink. Tell prospective buyers your offline address in case they have complaints about your product or service. Alternatively, a toll-free phone line can equally work. In addition to building trust, contact information can increase footfalls in your brick-and-mortar store.
Use social proof (Online reviews and testimonials)
What is social proof? This is evidence that several other people are not only using your product or service, but are also enjoying them. This can come in the form of user reviews or recommendations. Beside each product, you can setup a comment(s) section from your customers. Interview them or request a rating about their experience with your products, then embed the responses on your site.
Images of customers add genuineness to comments or recommendations, so it is advisable use them. However, refrain from using fake images otherwise it could work against you – it is the sort of thing a fraudulent website would do, which is exactly what you are trying to avoid. Instead, request for permission to use your real customers’ images.
You may have seen some websites display a list of previous and current clients. This is a form of social proof that seems to tell the customers that, “these big brands trust us, and so should you”.
Use Trust badges
The internet has its own version of accreditation, usually in the form of plugins. From internet security, to product quality and customer service excellence, these ‘badges’ can be placed at strategic positions on your web pages to promote trustworthiness. Some examples include:
- A hack safe website badge (MacAfee Security)
- Approved Business Bureau badge
- Finance security badge (Verisign)
- Money back guarantee badge
Ensure you can back up your claims. There is no point putting up a money-back guarantee sign if you do not give customers back their money. Claiming to be accredited by an industry authority could put your business in trouble if you are found guilty of lying. The key is to be as honest as possible.
Get an SSL secure site
A glance at your domain name can inform visitors about your web security. The ‘S’ in the HTTPS guarantees visitors that your website is protected and their information is safe. People want to feel secure trading on your website, especially when it involves revealing credit card details or other information.
You can get your web content encrypted with a secure socket layer (SSL). It requires contacting the online service provider and providing proof of your business and website ownership. In addition to winning customer trust, websites with a secure domain name enjoy positive search rankings on Google search engines.
Finally, always proofread your content for errors. Nothing dumbs down the credibility of a good website like spelling mistakes or grammatical blunders.
This post was written by James Cummings, a business psychologist and serial entrepreneur, with over a decade working in finance, IT, marketing and recruitment sectors. He has authored numerous books in the management space and is Founder and CEO of www.dailyposts.co.uk.