Building trust in a new online sales channel


17th June, 2020

How to build trust in a new-to-online brand

So you’ve taken the plunge and moved your business, or part of it, online? Building trust in this new channel is your next priority.

Apart from actually setting up an e-commerce platform and listing all your wares, you need to find ways to make customers comfortable buying from you online.

This requirement is especially vital when you haven’t sold via digital methods before, and your clientele aren’t familiar with this buying process.

Follow a few essential steps, though, and you’ll build trust online sooner and, in turn, get more exciting results.

1. Website design

Firstly, you need a website (or other shopping platform) that inspires trust.
Your site must look professional and secure, and the functionality of it has to be easy to use.

Visitors to the shopping spot won’t browse for long if they can’t find what they want ASAP, or if they think the site will be hard to navigate.

Your shopping checkout system, in particular, must be user-friendly.

Get family or friends to test it to see if they can search for items, add them to the cart, input their details, and make payment without hassle.

Always incorporate quality graphics into your site, too. Illustrate each product through a variety of clear photographs or even videos or 360-degree views where possible.

The more expensive the products are, the more in-depth pictures likely have to be to satisfy people.

For instance, if you’re a retailer selling thousand-dollar handbags, you’ll want to show back, front, side, and internal pictures of the bags, as well as the length when worn, and close-ups of zips and compartments.

Alternatively, if you sell lower price point puzzles and games, you may only need to upload a photograph of the packaged product plus one of the item in use, or a zoomed-in shot of pieces.

2. Product and sales information

People who aren’t used to shopping online or who haven’t bought from you digitally before may be nervous about this new setup.

You need to make them feel safe that whatever they order will meet their expectations.

Do this by providing plenty of product details for each item, including size, colour, functionality and more.

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Fall for flats with the latest must-haves. Comfort has never looked so good. #walkinwittner

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If you’re a restaurant selling meals online for home delivery or pick up, include a detailed list of ingredients for each menu item.

This way, people with food allergies or preferences won’t worry about ordering from you.

What about, though, if you’re a cabinet maker, making customised, non-returnable products for people?

In this scenario, explain the different types of materials people can choose from, and how durable, solid, or heavy each piece is.

Mention the maintenance required for every option, and specific data about installations, if people will be doing this job themselves or hiring a separate contractor.

Plus, when it comes to content, make sure your ecommerce platform also features details about shipping methods, costs, and timeframes, and your company’s returns policy.

You don’t want people to have unanswered questions about what you sell or how you sell it.

Answer questions through the content listed on your site, and you’ll engender more trust and make it more likely that people complete transactions.

3. Contact information

Transparency is vital when it comes to trust creation, too.

Customers want to know there’s someone they can talk to if they get stuck ordering or need further information.

This is particularly the case when they’re not used to buying your wares online. Allay fears by making contact details easy to find.

Enable people to get in touch with you via numerous methods, such as phone, email, live chat, and on social media sites.

Encourage people to contact you with any questions they have or for advice if they’re having trouble deciding which products will work best for their needs.

If you’ve always hand-sold items in the past and provided significant customer service, there’s no reason why you can’t still offer this kind of support now, too, just in a different way.

4. Testimonials and reviews

When you’re trying to land online sales from people who haven’t dealt with your business before, it’s essential to display signs of credibility.

People know hackers abound, so want to feel confident you’re running a real operation that can be trusted.

Showcase credibility markers such as testimonials and product reviews to help with this.

Where possible, link to or mention independent ratings, such as those on Google or social media sites like Facebook and LinkedIn.

Most people take these more seriously than uploads on business websites, which have the potential to be made up or edited.

If you’re a professional services worker, say, who usually sets up in-person meetings to pitch clients but are now selling packages online, positive feedback from past clients on LinkedIn will make a positive difference.

Make it easy for potential customers to read favourable input from others.

5. Display memberships and site seals

Another sign of credibility to help your online sales is advertising memberships of well-known, trusted groups.

These associations might be local, national, or international.

For example, a professional services worker might be a member of their local chamber of commerce or citywide business group.

People working in trades and construction are often members of state or national associations or trade unions related to their specific job.

Similarly, retailers often become members of the National Retail Association or Australian Retailers Association or Retail New Zealand.

Restauranteurs may be part of the Restaurant & Catering Industry Association of Australia or the Restaurant Association of New Zealand.

If you run your business with sustainability as a key differentiator, mention your membership in groups focused on eco-friendly operations, and any relevant certifications you’ve received.

For example, in Australia, groups include Ethical Clothing Australia, the Association for Sustainability in Business, the Infrastructure Sustainability Council of Australia, and the Green Building Council of Australia.

Fairtrade logo
The Fairtrade logo is a well-known version of a ‘trust marker’.

In New Zealand, there’s the Sustainable Business Network, The Sustainability Society, Sustainable Business Council, and the New Zealand Green Building Council.

1% for the Planet is also a global movement businesses join to support environmental solutions.

Anything you can use to show that you’re a credible, well-established, and correctly licensed and qualified business/operator will help to build trust.

6. A secure payment processor

Another absolutely critical factor is the payment processor you use to handle transactions on your shopping platform.

With security top of mind for everyone, try to choose a payment provider people know and trust.

For example, some of the most well-known options include PayPal, eWAY, Shopify, Square, Stripe, 2Checkout, Visa Checkout, and Apple Pay, as well as specific platforms run by major banks.

Where possible, set up transactions to finalise directly on your website, rather than transferring people to third-party processing sites. Shoppers often abandon their shopping cart if they’re directed to a different website suddenly.

Also, remember to display relevant site seals on your website. Pop up the logo for your payment provider, especially if using a recognisable company like PayPal.

Also, showcase the site seal for the SSL certificate you use, which keeps website transactions secure.

Some of the big names in this arena include GeoTrust, Thawte, RapidSSL, Comodo SSL, DigiCert, Trustico, GoDaddy, Symantec, and GlobalSign.

Building trust online takes some time, energy, and patience, but it’s well worth it when it means you convert a higher percentage of browsers into buyers each day.