How to make your ecommerce site trustworthy - SwiftERM

How to make your ecommerce site trustworthy. With the emergence of ecommerce platforms like Shopify, Magento and WooCommerce, thousands of people are flocking to create their own niche storefronts. The problem is, the rise in both online fraud and new online stores has created a paradox where new storefronts are trusted and not trusted at the same time.

To ensure your website stands up to the trust test, here are seven critical online elements your site should have.

1. Page speed. Believe it or not page speeds the time it takes for a web page to load on a user’s computer plays a role in the trust of your online storefront. Slower page load times can result in higher bounce rates (how many people leave after visiting one page on your site) and diminish trust with users. Internet-marketing agency Portent found every second you shave off your site’s average page load time (without shedding page views) means an 8 percent improvement in page value.

2. Web design. Web design can make or break user experience. Poor user experience leads to a loss in trust and can adversely affect conversion rates (turning a customer into a sale). Parboteeah Dr. Veena Parboteeah, an assistant professor of information systems at Eastern New Mexico University stated, “Prior research has found that both dimensions of visual design — that is, graphic, all appearance (attractiveness proper use of fonts, proper use of colors) and structure (navigation, search facilities, valid links, ease of accessing the site) — are important antecedents of perceived usefulness, enjoyment, satisfaction and behavioral attitudes.”

In other words the right colors, fonts, and navigation structure all play important role in perceived online trust.

3. Privacy policy. Consumers care about the way you collect and use their personal information. Your privacy policy should disclose all of the ways you intend to gather and use your customer’s information. It is extremely important to be as transparent as possible with your privacy policy. Here are some items to consider:

  • Does your site use cookies (a piece of data stored on a user’s computer that notifies certain activity)
  • Will you sell any personal information to third-parties, affiliates and other companies?
  • How is information collected?
  • Does your site track geolocation?
  • Can users opt in and out?

4. Social-media impact. Social media can have a strong influence on trust. Prior empirical research from Khalid Aldiri (a professor at Bradford University) and others confirms that the use of facial photos or video clips may engender initial trust toward an unfamiliar ecommerce site. In addition, numerous scholars have found that the availability of more social-media applications (e.g. “likes,”  “tweets,” and “shares”) in an ecommerce site enhances consumer’s trust, loyalty, perceived usefulness and purchase intuitions.

5. Consumer confidence. Consumer confidence is how confident your audience feels with your website. You can often measure or track consumer confidence through reviews, testimonials and feedback on your site. One of the reasons Amazon has become so trusted is because of its built-in review system that allows consumers to see what others think of products.

Give your customers a voice by asking them to leave reviews, comments and feedback on your website, social media channels and through email.

6. Company information. Company information is one of the most critical elements of online trust. Think about your own experiences when shopping online. How likely are you to purchase from a website that does not provide contact information, about us information, and returns/refunds/shipping information? Evidence shows security policies and vendor-specific guarantees (e.g return policies) can be as effective as paid institutional mechanisms such as third party trust endorsements.

7. Third-party security.Third-party security includes trust seals and antivirus software running on your site. Having trust seals from companies like Truste and McAfee can increase conversion rates. These seals show potential customers that your site has been reviewed and vetted by a trustworthy business. But be aware that these services can cost thousands of dollars.

Companies Can Leverage Influence to Create Trust

In recent times we’ve seen things crack the foundations of trust — both online and in real life.

Facebook’s incredible morphing privacy policies (and experiments), unimaginable data breaches, revelations that Snapchat snaps don’t really disappear, and of course Assange, Snowden and the NSA. The list could go on.

Despite these betrayals, our trust on the Internet, along with the ranks of online influencers, seems like it is continuing to swell. That coupled with the push we are seeing in the workforce – more millennials entering it and having their own definition of trust and influence – is making this an interesting time.  

Positioned squarely in the middle of the divide between employers and employees (and consumers and brands) is a new rank of what Benjamin Edelman, writing in the Harvard Business Review, terms  ‘intermediaries’: the platforms consumers and, in this case, employers and prospects, rely on for basic information. For instance, consumers turn to GrubHub for food choices, delivery and reviews. Companies and people look at job-community website Glassdoor for information pertaining to employers. We have come to a position of guarded trust in these platforms. But much could change.  

This shift to a new understanding of who, or what, is trustworthy has huge implications for employers, especially as Boomers’ retirement rates pick up, creating job opportunities for Gen Y and millennials.

So how do employers build trust and create influence, when so many other sites and services are competing for the same space?

Trust in online influencers and brands is really nothing new. Since Trout & Ries wrote about branding and positioning many decades ago (well before Mad Men taught us about the risks of believing in brand constructs developed by people three sheets to the wind) we’ve known, instinctively, when we’re being played. What changed our “Spidey sense?” Rewards. It turns out many of us are willing to give up a stunning amount of personal information for let’s say a 15 percent discount or some free samples. Employer brands can’t give out lots of samples, really, so how do they play?

Employer brands skip the cursory rewards and turn to influence.  By creating gravity around their brands with content, employee advocacy and social buzz, they come to occupy a place in the minds of prospects and even passive candidates.

Doesn’t your heart beat a bit faster when you’re contacted by a recruiter for Google? Google has massive influence, even if it does not have absolute trust. And there, my friends, is the boundary between influence and trust. Trust must be earned, influence can be bought.

The task for employer brands, then, is to first create influence, then guard it well and expand it until it becomes trust. Trust doesn’t necessarily trump influence, but they are very closely linked.

Internally, companies must build corporate cultures of storytellers. Employees are your best, most loyal, most informed brand ambassadors. Their experience of working in your company is encoded in stories they tell to other employees, to prospects and the world via social networks. Support them as you would any other aspect of tour corporate culture to reap the rewards of influence and build networks of trust.

 

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