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Do your customers feel safe when shopping online?

Trust is a major issue when it comes to online shopping. Millions and millions of consumers worldwide peruse the internet in search of great bargains or the best price on a specific product. If everyone who looked at a product actually completed the purchase, the numbers would be much more phenomenal than they already are for eCommerce retail sales.

Consumers do have concerns.

A report from buySAFE.com said that 81% of online shoppers have numerous concerns about making a purchase online from an unfamiliar site. For the retailer, that’s a large amount of doubt.

Getting your products viewed online is only part of the entrepreneurial effort. The end goal, of course, is the conversion, or the sale, and making a little money—why else is one in business but to make money? So, when consumers turn away, for any reason, that represents a lost sale—plain and simple!

To make matters even worse. Statistics show that over 75% of those consumers who look and go away, never come back again.

So, what is driving this distrust in eCommerce?

According to a 2019 report from the National Retail Federation, nearly 30% of online-only transactions turned out to be fraudulent in some manner.

Either the deal was a bait-and-switch tactic, or the product was overrated or overstated, or it was something with the service that caused customer dissatisfaction. And then there are cases where there never was a real product to begin with. Whatever the case, the actions of some unscrupulous jerks have created a trust problem for the many honest and trustworthy entrepreneurs of the world.

Trust is an emotion.

The dictionary defines trust as a positive emotion giving people goodwill towards each other. Trust can inhibit fears and doubts concerning the reliability of another person. Rousseau suggested that “Trust is a psychological state comprising the intention to accept vulnerability based upon positive expectations of the intentions or behavior of another.”

There are two states of probability associated with trust: the probabilities of loss or gain. The third state is uncertainty. Uncertainty is highest when both probabilities of gain and loss are equal. In other words, the unknown creates uncertainty.

Unknowns, such as hidden additional charges at checkout can result in an abandoned shopping cart. Any unknowns can ruin a potential shopping experience for both the customer and the merchant.

But when the customer is fully certain about the gain—that is, no fear of a loss— accompanying a purchase, then the element of trust is high, and the purchase is likely to be completed. Distrust is at its lowest, and both shopper and merchant are happy with the experience.

According to an article at vwo.com, “it’s important to understand that trust is not a choice, but an underlying psychological state that can be influenced.”

What are consumer concerns that can lead to distrust?

The biggest concern of the consumer is; “will my personal information be safe and secure?” Today’s shoppers are rightfully concerned about identity theft.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has said that identity theft is the biggest and fastest-growing form of fraud in America. Approximately one in thirty Americans are affected every year. This has a massive impact on the integrity of the internet and in consumer confidence.

According to the Pew Internet Project, 75% of internet users are reluctant to give out their personal information on the internet. And for those who do give in and supply their information, VeriSign estimates that more than 80% worry that their information could be stolen.

That is a lot of uncertainty and distrust levels are obviously very high with today’s consumer.

A second concern is; “is the merchant reliable and will they perform as promised?”

This is not so much a security issue as it is one of pure trust in the vendor. Will I get exactly what I paid for is the question most shoppers find themselves asking as they contemplate making a purchase. Again, the probability of gain or loss are fairly equal, so uncertainty is higher.

Nearly 60% of all criminal complaints about online transactions, according to the FBI and the Internet Crime Complaint Center, are about merchant non-performance. Not delivering as promised is the kiss of death for the entrepreneur.

A report from the Chief Marketing Officer Council claims that 99% of the customers surveyed would back off or end a relationship with a business that failed at building customer trust.

What are some of the causes of shopper distrust and uncertainty?

Disconnected experience

By its very nature, the internet is a remote and uncertain environment in which to shop and make a purchase. It’s the disconnected shopping experience that impacts the confidence level of the shopper and heightens the distrust level.

This uncertain and disconnected feeling by the shopper is not limited to visits with new or unknown merchants. Even the most well-branded sites experience these issues. Studies have shown that shoppers would rather buy a product at a physical Walmart store than making the same purchase online at Walmart.com.

The uncertainty about security and the disconnected feeling come into play in any online shopping adventure. And, the issues are not going to disappear anytime soon—because these two factors are at the very core of how the internet and eCommerce operates.

Publicity.

Today’s instant news and mass communications provide us with a daily—no, hourly barrage of the latest news from around the globe. What we get is that we hear, instantly and repeatedly, all the bad things that happen every day.

Identity theft and computer/internet fraud are some of the most recurrent stories in the news today. The purpose of the news may be noble—the consumer is well aware of all the risks involved. But it also instills a degree of uncertainty about their own vulnerability that certainly impacts the way they shop and buy online.

Just this one factor is enough to make a shopper leery of internet shopping: In the past two decades, fraud in the form of selling counterfeit products has increased 10,000%!

Add to that all the stories of hacked business websites losing customer information and of a busted ID theft ring in a large city. It’s surprising that eCommerce can flourish at all—yet it continues on at a record pace.

An intolerance for risk.

People have grown less tolerant of taking online risks. So, they have become much more selective in their buying habits. Two factors here are driving this—and again, both are inherent to the nature of the internet.

The first is the concern; “will I get what I paid for?” Is the product what it claims to be? And next, is; “will I be able to easily return the item if it’s not what I really wanted?”

A complicated return or refund policy has been the demise of many online retailers. People want what they pay for and want to return it if disappointed—without exception! Many are to the point they will no longer take the risk if they are uncertain about a merchant’s policies.

It’s a huge market out there.

There are nearly a half a million eCommerce websites on the internet…in the United States alone. That has created the largest shopping mall in the world.

And just like in a large shopping mall, all the shopper has to go on, in most situations, is the outward appearance of the store—the storefront, as you stand looking in.

Most often, it is very difficult to tell the good from the bad—the trustworthy from… the not so trustworthy. Unless it is a major-branded company with instant recognition and a well-known reputation, a lot of shoppers will continue walking on down the mall.

Consumer demands.

Consumers today expect and demand to get their money’s worth when it comes to shopping. They want to have the confidence that the merchant will deliver as promised: The right product, on time, and with assurances of help, and a favorable return guarantee.

Providing this confidence and eliminating the uncertainty for every online customer is the challenge for all eCommerce entrepreneurs.

Five simple and proven ways to begin to earn the trust of your customers.

Bing.com

Display Trust Badges and Security Seals on your website.

Trust badges and Security Seals are a logo or symbol provided by a third party that is placed on your website. It tells your visitors that your page is legitimate and that all data is collected through that secure third-party source.

Omniconvert.com says, “The trust seal company that agrees to place their badge on your website confirms that your business is authentic; therefore, users know that all processes taking place on your website are safe and secure.”

Just by looking, the shopper knows that you are making an effort to secure your site and to provide them with a safe shopping experience. This step can add instant trustworthiness to your brand.

Use a recognized and reputable payment service.

With ID theft and credit fraud so prevalent, this step is very important. Ensuring the security of consumer transactions will also add valuable credibility to your business.

PayPal is the most recognized service on the globe, and they have earned a stellar reputation as dependable and secure. They have gone to great lengths to provide secure financial services for internet transactions, and most merchants feel safe utilizing their services. There are others—so do some homework and find the one that serves your needs best.

Provide real reviews and testimonies from real customers.

This step almost speaks for itself. You can brag and boast about your product or service all day long. But until someone else steps up and confirms what you say about your business—well, you’re just like any other hawker out there on the midway.

Product testimonies go a long way in promoting your business. A Moz study showed that 67% of online shoppers do, in fact, read reviews. Positive reviews convert!

But don’t avoid the negative reviews. Consumers also get suspicious if there are nothing but good reviews…. surely, someone had a bad experience. Be honest and if it begins to appear that more people are dissatisfied, then maybe something needs to be fixed or tweaked.

Offer Help!

When shopping, people often have questions about the product or making the purchase. Provide a means for them to get their questions answered. An unanswered question can result in the shopper clicking off and going elsewhere. Make it a simple process to ask and get answers: Chat lines are an excellent service to provide, if feasible.

Provide the customer with all the information they may need: shipping and return policies, refunds, exchanges, size, and color options…whatever the customer might ask, be prepared to answer.

Demonstrate your product in action.

A picture may be worth a million words. But a video is worth 8 million words. Show them how your product works or looks in its intended setting or environment.

If your product is clothing, then have it modeled. If it’s tools, show them being used. Use the 360-degree view application to display your product completely, from all angles. Be creative! Let the consumer see what it is they are buying.

Finally…

These are just five simple steps you can employ to begin to earn trust from the shopping public. There are obviously more, but these five basics will go a long way in establishing credibility in the eCommerce world.

The world wide web is enormous and often very ugly. But in the end, honesty pays huge dividends in earning trust and confidence. Be one of the good guys, focus on your customer’s shopping experience, and reap the benefits of success.

Contact Chelsea and Rachel today for more on setting up and running your business employing tried and true methods that follow these guidelines… and more. Success is just a click away!

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