Everyone knows that first impressions are everything when it comes to setting up a bricks and mortar retail store. With all the competition waiting just next door you will need your shop to stand out and to appear as established and welcoming as possible. Unfortunately, once a business moves online these universal truths of consumer retail are often treated as if they no longer apply.
The key is to realise that your website is not merely a functional medium which funnels money from the customer bank account and into your pocket, it is the face of your brand and should be a pleasant online place for people to visit.
Too many ecommerce websites are failing to convert visitors into customers because of the way their website is presented – remember, failing in the customer service department is not only an issue for brick and mortar stores. Ecommerce websites, just because they are part of the digital world, should not see themselves as detached from their customers.
When working out of a dispatch warehouse, it can be difficult to imagine the customer at the other end of the delivery. However ecommerce websites must empathise and interact with their customers if they want to be successful.
Here is a list of ten things a website can do to build trust and to break down the impersonality that comes with hosting an online store:
Secure Payment Logos
If you do not already have a high-street presence and someone is visiting your website for the first time, it can help your credibility to have a recognisable third party logo visible on the site.
Having a secure payment method is often the most important sign new customers need to see in order to part with their bank details. Containing a visible “padlock” from software companies like Comodo Secured or PayPoint demonstrates that your site is committed to keeping customer details safe.
A list of payment processing card issuers, like MasterCard or Visa, as well as the logo of payment services you support, like PayPal or Google Wallet, is a great way of showing you have been vetted by reputable companies.
Other Third Party Badges
Using a respectable delivery service, like UPS and FedEx in the U.S and Royal Mail in the UK, shows that you employ efficient and timely couriers – ones that the customer is likely to have had previous positive experiences with before. If you also sell your products on large online retail sites like eBay or Amazon you might want to include their logo somewhere on your site; it bolsters your reputation and paints you as a truly established multichannel business.
Spreading your business across various creditable partners gives the impression that you are a reputable player in the online retail game, something that is sure to put your customers at ease.
Leverage Supplier and Competitors
If your website contains references to other similar websites – for example if you are a local food producer who includes writes about the famous restaurants that you provide for – this shows that other professionals like and trust what you do, and therefore customers should as well.
It’s often a good idea to reach out to other businesses in your area to see if there is a mutually beneficial arrangement that can boost the online persona of both businesses.
Customer Reviews and Testimonials
When it comes to proving the quality of your brand, there is nothing more effective than customer reviews. Research by BrightLocal conducted in 2013 found that 79% of customers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations from friends and family, making it one of the most effective ways to influence new customers towards your way of thinking.
Visible Contact Details
A 2013 study by ResponseTap discovered that online retailers who can clearly demonstrate that they can be reached over the telephone are favoured by 57% of consumers. This is because many people who use ecommerce sites want the reassurance of some human interaction before completing a purchase.
In addition, a fixed address for your company helps make it seem more real, reliable and tangible. It helps customers to visualise an office full of employees, a dispatch warehouse, and all the other adornments of an established company, essentially making the brand more human.
Transparent Company Policies
Customers do not like to be deceived and are especially wary of online ecommerce brands looking to sell dodgy goods via unsecure payment methods. Simply being honest about things like return policy, shipping prices and delivery times means that a customer is more willing to part with their money.
Company policies should be easy to find on the site – the simpler and more transparent the policy is the bigger the impact it will have on potential customers.
The easier a website is to use the more likely a customer is to stick around. Professional web designers say that no part of the website should be more than three clicks away from the home page. You wouldn’t design your bricks and mortar store as a maze, so why do it on your website?
‘About Us’ Section
This is often the first port of call for first time users and should provide a broad and truthful overview of the company – most importantly its products and its values. Think of your brand as a person with a human voice. This way, customers will be much more willing to listen to what you have to say. You might also want to include a ‘Team’ section to give a real human face to your online operations.
Blogging is an essential part of giving your brand a human voice and personality. Post should be written about things that are at the core of the company’s values, providing insights into the industry and introducing the customer to the brand’s culture. Avoid the generic, Google hates it and customers won’t read it.
Not only will blogging have a positive impact on your customer engagement but it will also help to drive organic traffic to your site, making it rank higher in search engines.
Like blogging, regularly updating social media sites like Facebook and Twitter helps to reinforce in people’s minds the fact that you are a living and breathing company. A selection of social media links on the website reassures the customer that the brand is modern and takes a proactive approach to dealing with customer queries.
For retail stores that specialise in fashion, furniture, or any other products that is well suited to imagery, Instagram and Pinterest can be especially effective as marketing platforms.
Do let us know if there is anything in particular you look out for when deciding if a site is trustworthy (although much of the process is unconscious), we would love to hear your thoughts.