How Can eCommerce Websites Regain Consumer Trust?

Nearly half of consumers avoid online shopping because of a lack of trust, while 79% of people are worried about online privacy and want more control of their data. Now, you could argue that a lot of this mistrust is not the fault of eCommerce websites, but the fault of government regulation and the confusing privacy policies of big companies like Facebook, Google and others. However, regardless of who's at fault, it's small eCommerce websites who will ultimately pay the price of this distrust, so it's up to them to try and regain this consumer trust.

After all, as much as people dislike the way internet giants like Facebook and Google handle their data, we all put up with it because the service they offer is free. For eCommerce websites, customers expect better. That’s why people are perfectly fine with YouTube collecting immense amounts of data about us and using all of this data to target adverts directly at us, but people we would be horrified if Netflix did the same thing.

When we pay for things, we don’t like hidden costs. This is why 90% of customers say that free delivery is their biggest incentive for shopping. Of course, costs aren’t just monetary and many customers feel as if using eCommerce comes at a cost to their security. Specifically, people are most worried about cyber criminals, internet companies, other internet users and their own government.

Offline shopping comes at a cost to our time — and for a while, it looked like this would kill the high street. When you can buy something in seconds from the comfort of your own home, why would you go to a physical shop? This recent data shows that the answer to that question is simple: offline shopping is more secure. There’s no need for data transaction. We may live in a technological and digital age, but the average customer would still rather buy something with cash money.

Being Safe Vs. Feeling Safe

The thing is, though: online shopping isn’t all that dangerous. A comprehensive report by CIGI revealed how incredibly rare cybercrime is, as well as how online shopping is getting significantly safer. However, in a big way, none of that matters for eCommerce businesses. Yes, it’s important that customers’ data is protected and that they are safe, but eCommerce websites need to do a better job of making consumers feel safe. Right now, they don’t — even though online shopping is safer now than it ever has been

In order to make customers feel safer, eCommerce websites have to make sure they tell customers why their website is safe and why their brand is trustworthy. At the moment, the data shows that they simply aren’t doing this.

There are some easy enough fixes that eCommerce websites can make in order to assure consumers that their website is safe. However, a handy shorthand is just to think: what information would a dodgy website not have? No scammer wants to give people a legitimate address or phone number, nor will they have a returns policy, nor would they have verifiable customer reviews. As a result, an eCommerce website should have all of these things.

The Power of Brand Voice

As well as its SEO benefits, there are several other great reasons for eCommerce websites to have a blog. However, by far the biggest one with regards to consumer trust is that a blog helps businesses build a relationship with consumers. You can answer frequently asked questions, react to current events, or at the very least show them you’re ultimately a business made up of humans with a sense of humour — as opposed to just a bot after card details.

Infographics are also a great way of doing this. Jokes about front door handles, the anatomy of a best-selling book over time, or a breakdown of different fonts; it’s hard to know what will make a successful infographic. Yet, what is certain is that creating one shows potential customers that you are passionate about your industry. When someone is passionate about something, they’re a lot less likely to be some kind of cybercriminal.

Some websites even manage to do this with their web copy. Far too many websites are obsessed with using web copy simply to sell products or for SEO purposes. Innocent smoothies, however, doesn’t do this. Instead, its informal web copy comes across as friendly, kind, and — well — innocent. It’s a lot easier to trust a website with a genuinely human voice and a modest personality than a website which just spouts corporate jargon.

Social Media Is a Double-Edged Sword

Of course, if you want to really connect with your customers, you can always use social media to cut out the middleman — so to speak. Being accessible on social media not only shows your customers that you’re approachable and available, but it also shows you have nothing to hide. If someone has the power to publicly berate you on Twitter for bad service or an undelivered product, then they know you are less likely to screw them over.

Be warned, though. An attempt to use social media to force a youthful, hip appearance onto a younger audience is as cringeworthy as it sounds. In 2014, Brands Saying Bae created an international following by ruthlessly pointing out how ridiculous big brands look when they try to tap into youth culture through social media.

Missteps aside, social media is mostly a great tool for businesses. By engaging with your customers, big businesses can shake off a faceless, corporate image and small businesses can create their own image. After all, sometimes, your image on social media can take on a life of its own, such as when “Cheeky Nando’s” became an international phenomenon. At that point, the best thing you can do is just embrace the chaos — and that’s exactly what Nando’s did.

Nando’s isn’t an eCommerce business, but the moral of the story is the same. Customers are more likely to trust a business when they are able to exert their power over them. With Nando’s, a friendly social media presence is mirrored by a friendly and professional-looking website. All of this goes a long way towards building trust. eCommerce businesses need not let a meme get wildly out of hand in order for their customers to feel the same way. All it takes is a marketable personality, a touch of openness and some basic security features.

Written by Paul Brebner

Paul Brebner's picture

Paul Brebner is an eCommerce expert who helps to run e-Hardware, an eCommerce website which specializes in door handles, sash locks and other kinds of quality ironmongery.