Trust and safety is an emerging field in eCommerce, because customers are increasingly careful with their personal information on platforms – especially those without an extensive track record, brand awareness, and reputation. Fortunately, there are several techniques that you can implement with your eCommerce site that will imbue your customers with a sense of trust and give them the confidence they need to make purchases on your site.
A major misconception in the world of eCommerce is that you can create a slick website, purchase some ads to target your main demographic, and watch the sales come rolling in. After the first ad campaign ends with dismal sales, entrepreneurs are often left wondering what went wrong. The explanation is often very simple: a lack of humanization.
Entrepreneurs in eCommerce frequently labor under the mistaken belief that, because the customer arrives on their platform online, they are not interested in any human component.
However, it is precisely this lack of human component that causes many a potential customer to take their business either to a more reputable site or a site with more of a human touch.
There are many scams floating around in eCommerce, and in many cases, proprietors of stores are nothing more than empty shells running websites intent on one goal and one goal alone: duping customers and tricking them out of their money, leaving them with little to no recourse at remuneration.
Fortunately, the fix for this is simple: show your customers that you are real. An “About Us” page that goes beyond the mission statement of your company but explains something about why you started this specific company and what it means to you personally goes a long way in establishing trust. Likewise, you want to make sure that your customer can get a hold of you by the method of their choosing.
You will want to leave a contact email address and phone number, but be careful. If you use an email address as opposed to a ticketing form, you will want to ensure that the email address is linked to your domain. So, for instance, your email address should be something like firstname.lastname@example.org as opposed to email@example.com. An email address referencing your domain carries with it much greater trustworthiness. You should also consider your customer base when displaying your phone number. If you make the bulk of your sales to people in the United States, but your company is in India, you should consider buying a phone number that will be easily reachable for your customers in the states.
For refunds and returns, you will want to leave a return address. Even if you are using a fulfillment company, it is best to provide your customers with a physical address so that they can understand they have recourse should something go awry in the purchase process.
Refund, Return, and Exchange Policies
Picture this scenario. You want to buy a backpack for your nephew for his birthday, so you go to a department store and you buy a wonderful backpack with his favorite video game character emblazoned on it. At your nephew’s party, you realize that your cousin bought him the exact same backpack. Dejected, you go back to the store to return it, only to hear that you have had the product for too long and it is now no longer eligible for any kind of refund. You’re left with a backpack that you can’t use and that your nephew – the intended end-user – already has.
What do you think the odds are that you’ll walk away from that department store satisfied with your experience? What do you think the odds are that you’ll return to them ever again? The answer to both questions is “not likely”.
Naturally, most brick and mortar stores go out of their way to accommodate refunds, returns, and exchanges. This is particularly true with apparel, where return and exchange rates can run as high as 35% — and this is for successful companies. One of the most closely guarded secrets in eCommerce is that the best customers in apparel often have the most returns and exchanges.
And yet so many eCommerce companies have Draconian policies that do not favor the customer. For instance, they promise shipping within 3-4 weeks, but only honor refunds 14 days after purchase. In other words, they are effectively saying that by the time you realize that you need to exchange your product, it’s already too late! Customers do read this sort of policy. You need to make your policy explicit and customer friendly to build trust.
Solid Spelling and Grammar
Facebook posts, Instagram captions, emails to friends – these are all casual forms of communication, and as such, spelling and grammar are secondary considerations for many people. However, understand that your eCommerce site is a professional communication to your prospective clients. Spelling and grammar mistakes, which are almost entirely avoidable, have no place on your website.
Truth be told, communication is challenging for even the most seasoned professionals at times. Fortunately, thanks to contractor platforms like UpWork, it is very easy to find professional copy editors who will be able to ensure that all your communication adheres to the expectations of your customer. While this may require an initial capital outlay, you will make a much stronger impression on your customers if the copy on your website is smooth, direct, syntactically correct, and easy to read.
All three of these tips are very easy to follow and implement. I have worked in eCommerce for several years, and I can tell you that – without exception – every successful entrepreneur with whom I have worked has followed these pointers and applied them to their own eCommerce stores.
The reason being is simple: if you have a website that utilizes proper spelling and grammar, clearly outlines buyer expectations and policies, and makes an effort to depict itself as more than a floating disembodied online presence, you will have a greater chance at earning your customers’ trust.