It’s easy to think of online shopping as safe to the point of being anodyne, but this is a result of sticking exclusively to the most well-known stores. Of course you’re going to have a decent experience ordering something through Amazon: it’s a corporate juggernaut with ceaseless investment in being the default ecommerce option. And if you can get everything you need through the usual suspects, then maybe you don’t need to worry about security…
…Except that approach supports a status quo that would utterly doom your ecommerce store.
You need shoppers to expand their horizons, looking to support smaller retailers and ensure that profits aren’t completely swallowed up by a handful of companies. If they won’t wander off the beaten path and take a chance on an unknown seller, you can’t make any progress, and your only option is to operate solely through third-party marketplaces.
You don’t want that, obviously. You want to maintain your independence by running your own dedicated store and growing your brand into a success that doesn’t need to piggyback off the architecture of bigger sellers. But if you’re going to achieve that success, you need a plan to convince prospective buyers that your website is just as reliable as sites like Amazon.
In this post, we’re going to explore how you can use trust signals to convince visitors to your site that it deserves their trust, ultimately pushing them to give you opportunities to win them over. What are trust signals, and what actions should you take? Let’s get into it.
The term trust signal is extremely broad, referring in this context to anything someone can find on your website that will make them more likely to trust your company.
You can, of course, have signals that provide the opposite effect. Think of egregious typos in your homepage copy, implausible prices or claims about order turnaround, or clear inconsistencies in your company details (suggesting that they’ve been altered or entirely fabricated).
When someone who doesn’t know much about your brand arrives at your website, they’ll be unconvinced but have an open mind. Your task is to seize the chance to convince them that you’re worth their time and money. If you don’t, they’ll go elsewhere, and you’ll lose out.
One of the biggest concerns people have when buying online is keeping their financial details safe. After all, they’re often called upon to volunteer their card information, and that information could easily be abused.
To reassure them that they can order through your store without major risk, you can mention whatever payment security credentials you can muster.
The easiest inclusions are supported third-party gateways that are already trusted, with PayPal being the obvious example. If you make it clear that you accept PayPal payments, people will know that they can trust your payment process to a reasonable extent (after all, they’ll have the option of seeking recompose through that service in the event that they’re unhappy).
And if you take card payments directly, you should have security safeguards in place, so let people know which ones. What schemes are you registered to? What standards do you adhere to? Security badges pertaining to governing bodies can be very influential.
Who wants to be the first person to order from a new website? It isn’t very appealing because it involves charting unknown territory. It’s far better to wait until some others have tried it first, as you can see what their experiences are like. This is part of the power of the social proof, and the part that pertains most strongly to security and safety.
The other part, of course, more closely resembles peer pressure. The more people buy from your store and comment on it positively, the more popular your brand will be, and the more eager others will be to order from you. There isn’t always wisdom in crowds, but ecommerce is one arena in which mass interest and approval tends to indicate a decent company. You can also draw upon customer approval to power an affiliate marketing strategy.
Beyond just including a broad array of reviews, consider picking out some comments that relate to security and putting them on your homepage. The ideal review would outline some initial hesitation (mirroring what most people will be feeling) before making it abundantly clear that there was never any need to be hesitant — but if you have no such review, make the best of the comments you do have.
Ecommerce isn’t as simple as exchanging money for goods.
There are complicated terms and conditions involved: even if you don’t directly comment on them because you don’t have any, your store will be subject to the default terms and conditions for an operation of its type. And the thing about terms and conditions is that the notable absence of them is cause for concern.
Why would you omit such things if you had no issue with customers reading them? And if you don’t want customers reading them, it raises the question of what you’re trying to conceal. By making it easy for people to review your terms and conditions, you can show that you have nothing to hide and are eager to always operate with transparency.
You don’t need to overload your website with trust signals, but they’re definitely important.
Revisit your website from the perspective of someone unfamiliar with it, and consider how it comes across. What needs to be in place to make it seem trustworthy? Figure that out, then add the necessary trust signals.