Five ways to increase trust and build a strong brand online

Apurva Chiranewala, Head of Strategy and Growth, Sendle reveals the top tips for online brands to build customer trust and engagement.

Nearly 10 million Australians buy something online every month. The online shopping boom has created a massive opportunity for small businesses, who not only benefit from an increase in potential customers, but also from 24/7 opening hours, lower costs than a physical storefront and no geographical barriers so your customer base can come from anywhere in the world.

We know consumer behaviour is shaped by trust. Yet despite the opportunities the Internet offers small businesses, gaining customer trust is a major challenge online-only stores face. Research from Monash University has recently shown that Aussie consumers think online-only stores are less trustworthy than their brick-and-mortar counterparts.

So how do online-only stores gain customer trust? The short answer is: there isn’t one quick fix. The path to credibility is made up of many elements, which all work together to make your online brand one shoppers trust.

Don’t surprise shoppers with extra costs

Be transparent with your customers about the total price they will pay from the outset of their online shopping experience. This means including GST and import tax in your advertised price. In a competitive online market, the decision to purchase on one site instead of another could be a matter of cents, and hiding extra costs till the end of the purchasing process will likely make customers feel misled, thereby losing trust.

Also let the customer know, as soon as possible, how much the shipping cost will be. If there is free or flat rate shipping, tell people on your homepage. Also tell the customer from the beginning of their experience if the cost to ship will vary based on their shipping location or size of the goods purchased. By communicating this information upfront, your shop will look not only helpful, but also transparent.

Remind, remind, remind users to check their shipping details

According to Sendle, one in five Australian addresses added at checkout have errors. Help your customers avoid this mistake (which could cost them getting their goods delivered on time, if at all), by prompting them to double check their delivery address before confirming the purchase. This will show your customers that you understand their pain points and that you’ve got their back. You’ll also reduce the time your business spends on post-purchase customer service.

Likewise, use a shipping and payment service that check addresses for you, validating the address and checking and taking care of errors along the way.

Use a safe payment gateway

According to The University of Sydney, while 67 per cent of Australians take steps to protect their privacy online, only 38 per cent feel in control. Having a secure payment gateway will make purchasers feel more comfortable with providing their credit card details online as it encrypts sensitive information such as credit card details securely between the customer, business and bank. Benefits include the safety of confidential information while a payment is processed electronically, payments are accepted in real time, and visitors stay on your website during the entire process.

Use a trackable shipping service

Ever received a package late in the mail, and then decided never to purchase from the store again as a result — even if it was the fault of the shipping service, not the online store? Logistics is a make-or-break element in the online shopping process, as trust is so easily gained and lost.

One way to provide customers with peace of mind is to use a trackable shipping service. The tracking number of a shipment reveals a wealth of information that makes your business look transparent, including real-time estimated delivery date, each stop along the way and whether a package was left on the porch or in the mailbox.

Manage your online reviews

84 per cent of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation. While it’s great to receive positive reviews, consider negative reviews as opportunities to improve, rather than problems. Stay on top of the site, respond to complaints in a timely manner and offer solutions to customers that solve their problem.

Before a disgruntled customer leaves a bad review on the site, be one step ahead and email a customer satisfaction survey as soon as a customer has made a purchase. This will give you the opportunity to resolve the issue and hopefully get a great review for being proactive, rather than receive a negative review.

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