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Whether you’re brand new to the world of ecommerce or striving to grow an existing online retail business, building and maintaining a sense of trust with your audience is key.

Fake retail websites surge in the runup to major holidays and shopping seasons. A study from Mastercard highlighted that global losses were estimated to exceed $48 billion in 2023.

Unsurprisingly, consumers are now much more cautious when shopping online, so it is important for all authentic online retailers to build trust with their audience. But building trust has many benefits beyond just winning over new customers, as a 2021 study from Salsify shows, with 90% of consumers willing to pay more for something when it is being sold by a brand they trust.

If you’re ready to increase the trustworthiness of your online business, here are some strategies to help you achieve your goals.

1. Share High Quality, Accessible Content

You only have one chance to make a positive first impression, so your website needs to be well-designed and filled with high quality, informative content tailored to the needs and expectations of your target audience.

Consistency

Being deliberate and consistent with your content across your entire online presence will have a positive influence on how trustworthy your brand appears. So, imagine for a moment that a potential customer discovered your brand on Instagram where every post you share is brightly coloured and your captions are written in a highly conversational way.

Now imagine that they click through to your website, only to find that your messaging is written with a very formal tone and your imagery is all black and white. The chances are they are immediately going to assume that they’re on the wrong website and will promptly leave to search elsewhere for what they want.

Accessibility

You must also take steps to ensure your website is accessible to everyone, including people with disabilities. If a consumer with a disability can’t interact with your website in the way they would like, they aren’t going to have any trust in your brand and will look to your competitors instead.

2. Social Proof and Reviews

Social proof provides potential customers with the confidence that your business can deliver on its promises and provide high quality experiences. So, it’s no surprise that data from Trustpilot shows more than 90% of consumers actively seek out reviews before purchasing from an online store they aren’t already familiar with.

The Power of Online Reviews

Social proof can take a variety of different forms, including written reviews, photographs, video reviews and star ratings. Encouraging your existing customers to leave product reviews and testimonials is one of the best ways to boost levels of trust between your business and your website visitors. Not only can reviews be placed directly on product pages, but excerpts can also be quoted on other areas of your website to highlight the things your business does really well.

Interestingly, negative reviews can also boost conversion rates because they provide a level of authenticity and believability to your social proof. It is impossible to please 100% of the people 100% of the time, so products that have a five-star rating may actually immediately arouse some suspicions among frequent online shoppers.

Media Mentions, Awards and Achievements

Similarly, you may also choose to work with social media influencers or the media to gain additional coverage for your business. Shouting about your achievements is never a bad thing, just ensure that you don’t ever present a paid advertisement as a genuine customer review, as this could have a really negative impact on your reputation.

3. Robust Website Security

Every ecommerce business needs to protect personal customer information in order to deliver safe shopping experiences and maintain a trustworthy reputation. Implementing robust website security will help minimise or even completely prevent cybercrime, data breaches and malicious attacks.

Emphasising your website’s security can be an excellent way to set your e-commerce business apart from your competition, and there are several elements that you can incorporate into your website to communicate the steps you have taken to protect customer data.

A Secure Socket Layer (SSL) Certificate

SSL certificates provide your website with the ‘https’ protocol and the padlock symbol in the search bar of a browser. Although small, these act as reminders that your website is secure, which will have a positive impact on the overall browsing and shopping experience that you are able to offer to your visitors.

Consumers recognise that SSL certificates are a sign of security and feel confident entering login, contact and credit card information because they understand that their data will be encrypted and protected from theft or misuse.

Payment Processor Logos

Payment processors, such as MasterCard, PayPal and Visa, both authorise and process payments between customers and retailers. As well as letting your visitors know that you accept a variety of payment methods, displaying payment processor logos will further boost trust because it demonstrates that you are committed to doing everything possible to protect your customer’s personal data.

A study from Baymard Institute in 2023 revealed that one in every 11 cart abandonments is caused by a retailer’s failure to offer enough payment methods, so don’t be afraid to shout about your payment option range.

Secure Shopping Carts

Secure shopping carts encrypt sensitive customer data, providing an additional layer of security for shoppers and retailers. Again, this small extra step can instil an additional element of confidence in visitors to your online store, minimising cart abandonments and increasing revenue.

4. Transparency and Customer Support

Consumers want to support businesses that aren’t afraid to be transparent, so striving to be authentic and honest should always be a priority. Forming connections with an audience isn’t always easy for purely online ecommerce brands, which is why showcasing your brand values and highlighting your team is so important. Even simply incorporating a team photograph into your ‘About us’ page can go a long way towards establishing trust with your audience.

It is also important to clearly display your return and shipping policies, which should include your cancellation policy, how quickly returns will be processed, and whether you offer exchanges. You should be committed to honouring all claims you make on your website, so don’t make promises that you can’t keep.

24/7 Customer Support

It should be easy for your customers to contact you directly with any questions, queries or problems. In addition to clearly displaying your contact information on your website, which should include several different ways to get in touch, you should be striving to provide 24/7 support. Always be completely upfront about your opening hours and how quickly people can expect a response from you.

5. User Experience and Delivery

The importance of providing a seamless user experience, from the moment they start browsing to the moment they hit the checkout button, cannot be overstated. The ecommerce landscape is extremely competitive, and if you fail to meet expectations at any point, shoppers will leave and take their custom elsewhere.

Mobile-Friendliness

Ever-increasing numbers of consumers are using smartphones when shopping online, so it is important that your website provides the same seamless experience on both desktop and mobile.

Generally, shoppers using mobile devices prefer straightforward websites with excellent search functionalities, which make it simple for them to find what they’re looking for. As you’re working with less screen real estate on mobile, you need to be very deliberate with the design and content elements you choose to incorporate.

Delivery Information

2022 research by Santa Clara University’s Retail Management Institute indicates that up to three in every five cart abandonment instances are linked to delivery options. Online shoppers typically want to choose between several delivery options, so it is often beneficial to offer:

  1. Standard shipping with a reasonable delivery time frame
  2. A free or low-cost option that may take longer to arrive, and
  3. A more expensive rapid delivery option

Crucially, it is important to be fully transparent when it comes to any extra costs like delivery fees, as widely promoting free shipping offers that are only actually available to shoppers who fulfil several criteria will only ever increase distrust. This is not to say that you can’t offer free shipping on orders over £30, for example. Just make this fact clear before shoppers arrive at the checkout page.

6. Marketing your Content and Creating a Personal Connection

Your content marketing strategy should enable you to both create and share valuable, relevant content that will allow you to showcase your credentials, enhance your credibility and connect meaningfully with your target audience.

Valuable content can take many different forms, including sharing trends that are affecting consumers, providing an insider’s glimpse of what’s happening in your industry, and sharing how-to guides filled with tips and tricks for the products and services you offer. Your goal here is to go above and beyond, providing your audience with need-to-know information as well as extra, interesting facts that address their pain points and may aid their future purchasing decisions.

One of the simplest ways to foster a sense of trust with your audience is to create content that promotes engagement and connection. There are numerous ways to approach this strategy, including sharing what happens behind the scenes during your day-to-day operations, as this will humanise your brand and allow your audience to connect with your team members person-to-person.

How our CRO Checklist can help you build a Trustworthy E-Commerce Brand

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As we’ve seen, user experience is a huge part of establishing trust in your e-commerce brand. You can have all the products under the sun at a knock-down price but if people don’t like the look of your website, then they won’t trust your brand. And if people don’t trust your brand, they’re likely to go to one they do.

Removing friction or barriers to people on your website making a purchase is known as conversion rate optimisation (CRO). As well as helping to establish trustworthiness, CRO is one of the most cost effective ways of increasing revenue as you’re effectively lowering your cost per acquisition by maximising the traffic you’re already getting, instead of having to get more.

We have seen how this stuff works and, also how many quick wins there are when it comes to doing it on e-commerce sites. It’s why we created this E-Commerce CRO Checklist to help all you lovely e-commerce SMBs out there. 

It’s totally free and will give your website a CRO Health Score and a simple roadmap to upping your sales and creating a trust worthy e-commerce brand.

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