Building e-commerce trust: 10 ways to help new customers feel safe

People buy from people they trust

Before a customer buys from you for the first time, they need to feel extremely safe. After all, e-commerce doesn’t operate like a brick-and-mortar store and they can’t walk away with a product they have just purchased using cash. When they shop online, they have to part with their hard-earned money long before they receive their order. They need to trust you with their personal information, which brings up concerns around privacy and identity theft, and with keeping their bank details safe. Then they can only hope the payment goes smoothly and you’ll send them what they ordered. So if anything on your site brings up doubt about any of these things, they’ll go elsewhere and you’ll never see them again. Quite simply, building trust is the first step on the road to conversion.

Elements of building trust with e-commerce customers

Each of these elements contributes towards helping your customers feel safe enough to complete the check-out process. The more of them you can provide, especially for first-time buyers, the safer they will feel.

A. Show them who you are

1. Use your About Us page well

Customers want to buy from a business that really exists and from people whose opinions and expertise they trust. The e-commerce experience is already a step away from the more personal experience of walking into a store and interacting with live shop assistants. So use your About Us page to tell them about you:

  • Include photos of your team where possible.
  • Use first person language (“I” and “we”) to create a personal and emotional connection.
  • Explain who you are and why you started this online store.
  • How long have you been in business and have you received any awards or endorsements, or reached any milestones?
  • Also remember that people trust people who are like them. Do you have a vision or mission statement they can align themselves with?
  • Essentially, give them something to like about you, and tell them why you care.

people holding gifts

For some more awesome “About Us” page examples, see here.

2. Share content regularly

  • Blogs, social media posts and emails that highlight your brand identity and demonstrate your values are all ways they can get to know you better.
  • Ensure you are adding value with your communication. Useful information like tips, tricks and how-to guides go down well, as do special offers and discounts that encourage them to buy from you.

B. Show them you care about their shopping experience

Quote: "If you don’t care, your customer never will.” - Marlene Blaszczyk"

3. Ensure your site design is user-friendly and your content is complete

A badly designed, messy or incomplete website gives the impression of an equally disorganised business. Why would someone take a chance on placing an order when it might get lost in the chaos? To make a good impression:

Quote: "Raisin cookies that look like chocolate chip cookies are the main reason I have trust issues." - unknown

4. Make it easy for customers to find what they need

If they can’t find the product they want within a few clicks, they’re certainly not going to buy it from you. This is especially true for first-time customers as they don’t yet have a relationship with you and it’s far too easy for them to simply bounce away. So carefully consider the needs of your customers:

  • Set up product categories that make sense, based on how they shop.
  • Provide intuitive navigation using menus that help browsing customers explore your products.
  • Make sure your search tool works for your customers and for your business.

5. Provide excellent customer support

When new customers know they can easily get hold of you to resolve queries or problems, and their questions are answered on your site before they have to ask, they immediately feel safer. There are many ways to do this:

  • Use your Contact page to show them all the ways they can contact you, including by phone, email or social media. When they do contact you, get back to them as soon as possible.
  • Provide a physical address to demonstrate reliability and staying power, so they know you’re not just a fly-by-night business.
  • Also display a contact number on each page in the footer or header.
  • A Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page helps reassure new customers too, overcoming objections upfront, and you can even include helpful written or video-based tutorials as added support.
  • Train your customer service team very well.
  • Consider implementing live chat, an extremely powerful tool that allows customers to speak to a live customer service agent online whenever they need help.

Quote: "In the world of Internet Customer Service, it’s important to remember your competitor is only one mouse click away." - Doug Warner"

C. Show them that buying from you is low risk

6. Clearly show shipping options and timeframes

If you surprise customers with shipping information at the last minute, there’s a good chance they’ll abandon their cart. Rather:

  • Explain shipping options upfront, making the costs and timing very clear.
  • Create and link to a detailed shipping policy that customers can refer to if they choose.
  • If you offer free delivery over a certain order total, promote that from your homepage onwards to encourage customers to buy more.
  • Download or create a secure (or free) shipping badge and display that on your website.
  • Also consider showing badges from the various shipping companies you use, especially if they’re well known.

Examples of shipping badges

7. Display your returns policy prominently

The best guarantee against high return rates is to run your business well. That said, life happens both to you and your customers, so they may occasionally need to return something despite all your best efforts. Knowing they can do this makes all the difference, especially if they have no experience of buying from you before. Help them feel safe:

  • Make sure there are very visible links to your returns policy throughout your website. Putting it in the footer works well and you can also add extra links in other places, for example, on product pages and during checkout. If the customer has to click out of the payment process to see it, you may lose them.
  • Returns policy links should always be clickable.
  • The policy should provide a guarantee that they can return an item if, for example, they’re not happy with it, it’s not what they ordered or it arrived too late.
  • To make returns as easy as possible for them, explain exactly what they need to do.
  • If you have restrictions, for example, that goods need to be returned within a certain time frame or in their original boxes, make that very clear in your policy. Transparency upfront is always better than refusing their return after the fact.
  • Adding a trust badge that says something like “30-day money back guarantee” can also reassure customers.

Examples of money back badges

Return policy example on Takealot:

Screenshot of the take alot product page, highlighting their product badges

Expanded exchange massage from the take alot website

8. Demonstrate that your website is secure

One of the first things potential new customers look for when considering buying from you is proof that your e-commerce site is secure:

  • Make sure your url bar is showing the secure padlock and that the url says “https:” rather than just “http:”.
  • Your SSL certificate should be site wide rather than just applying to your checkout. Comalytics uses Comodo for our site-wide SSL certificates. Companies like McAfee or Norton are also good providers.
  • Many SSL service providers provide badges that you can display to show your site is secure.Comodo secure badge
  • Assuming your site meets their requirements, you can also pay for third party verification like TRUSTe or TrustLock or Verisign. If you plan to sell in the US, Canada or the EU, you might consider purchasing the Better Business Bureau (BBB) badge. These badges can cost a bit but they add a huge amount of credibility, especially for overseas customers.BBB and TrustLock badges
  • Consider showing trust badges whenever customers need to register or give you their personal details. This reassures them that their information is secure.

9. Offer multiple, secure payment options during checkout

If first-time customers see payment options they feel comfortable with, they are more likely to complete the transaction:

  • Your payment options will depend on many things, including what your particular customer segments prefer.
  • While credit cards are still very popular in South Africa, you also need to offer alternatives for those who don’t have access to cards or who simply prefer something else, like Instant EFT, Paypal, Snapscan or eBucks.
  • Include payment method badges next to each option to show what you accept. For example, next to the credit card selection you might show icons for Visa, MasterCard and American Express. We can provide these or you can get them from your chosen payment gateway.Assortment of payment gateways logos
  • Your payment page should reassure them that your payment options are Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) compliant, and that their payment details are encrypted and are never stored on your servers. Most merchants choose to use a payment gateway, which means that as long as your payment gateway is PCI DSS compliant, you as a merchant don’t need to be. Ask your payment gateway for a badge similar to these.Payment badges for the checkout page
  • For an extra level of security, make it clear that payments are protected by 3D Secure. This requires confirmation of a password before the payment is processed.3D secure trust badge
  • Display security badges where needed to reassure customers that your checkout is secure. Don’t overdo it though and ask your website development company to display them in a stylish and professional way. You can get badges from your payment gateway or design them yourself.

This example shows the payment options offered by TakeAlot:

Take alot check out screen

D. Show them others trust you

Quote from Scott Cook: A brand is no longer what we tell the consumer it is -- it is what consumers tell each other it is.

10. Provide social proof

There’s a lot you can do to reassure new customers that your company is completely trustworthy – they may only believe you once others confirm it though:

  • Start gathering reviews and testimonials from other satisfied customers, as well as influencers, as soon as possible and publish them on your site and on social media. It looks good to show that you are open to feedback, plus when new customers see proof that others have had a good experience with your company, they are more likely to risk buying from you themselves.
  • Ask customers to send in pictures of themselves with the products they have bought from you and publish those on the relevant product pages or in a photo gallery.
  • Also include any press reviews or other media content that showcases your business.
  • Display any related trust badges you have access to, for example, Google Customer Reviews. This free service independently gathers feedback from customers who have bought from you.

The bottom line…

Once you’ve put as many of the elements above as possible in place, make sure you keep your promises. Meet (or even better, exceed) expectations and do what you say you’re going to do on an ongoing basis, and you build trust. Your once-new customers will keep coming back and they’ll tell their friends too, so you attract more new customers with no further effort on your part. It’s a win:win all round.

Implement these trust elements today and drive conversions on your e-commerce site! Download our 20 point checklist now:

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