Trust is one of the key elements of any sales process.

High Street store owners enjoy the advantages of being able to display their wares for their customers to browse and face-to-face contact to persuade and allay fears. But what about the online retailer? They only have their ecommerce website, a few pictures and some persuasive copy. How can they compete?

Of course, one of the major benefits the ecommerce retailer has is lower overheads, but they still have to gain the trust of a potential customer before they’ll buy and that’s not easy when they are a ‘faceless’ website.

It’s not all bad news though and here are a few tips to help you gain the trust of your customers if you are an online retailer.

1. Useful

Potential customers will want as much information as possible about an item before committing to buy and not just its description and features. They also want to read customer reviews (from real people) so they can get a balanced view of whether the product is right for them or not. Amazon is a great example of this.

This helps build trust and gives the buyer confidence in the product and you as a retailer.

2. Security

If your website lacks security people won’t buy from you. Your website’s security has to be second to none, so use an https:// domain and only offer reputable payment methods such as PayPal, MasterCard etc.

It’s also worth considering offering a money back guarantee too, so, should something go wrong or the product isn’t what the buyer though it was, they know they can return it to you without quibble.

3. Privacy

One of the biggest barriers (other than security) is the issue of data privacy. Make sure you reassure customers that their details will not be passed to a third party and clearly show your:

  • Cookies policy
  • Privacy policy

It’s also a good idea to keep the number of questions you ask during the buying process to a minimum.

4. Customise

Customising your service to suit individual needs, or to at least be flexible, is the holy grail of marketing. People want to feel like individuals not just another order number.

5. Reputation

If you have a good reputation people are more likely to trust you. Using social media as a way of promoting your customer service is a great way to show you can be trusted and that you want to hear from your customers. In the same way, make sure you contact details (phone, email and address) are clearly shown on your website. Don’t make customers hunt high and low for them, it makes it look as though you have something to hide.

None of this is earth-shatteringly new, but every element discussed above will help you gain the trust of your customers. OtherĀ  than security, one of the most important aspects is being available. Too many large companies think that an FAQ page or online forum are sufficient to help their customers and hide their contact details. But that gives out the wrong signals. Before I buy from anyone online I always check to see how easy it is to get in touch with them. If I can’t find their contact details or they only offer a contact form and no email or phone number, the chances are I won’t deal with and I’m sure I’m not the only person who feels that way.

What is your biggest turn-off when it comes to doing business with online retailers?

Leave a comment below and let’s see if we can come up with a list of no-nos.