The Importance of Trust in eCommerce

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eCommerce Trust

You’re walking down the street on a beautiful sunny day in Italy. Amongst beautiful scenery and busy streets a man approaches you. Smiling, he makes simple conversation before asking if you would be interested in a highly discounted Gucci bag. Despite your desire to own it, you don’t buy it. Why? Trust. You didn’t trust the authenticity of the product itself; or you didn’t trust the seller.

The importance of trust is obvious in the real world, but the lines blur when we enter the eCommerce industry. Much like you didn’t buy the bag, many shoppers won’t buy your product if they don’t trust you.

Trust is an incredibly fickle concept. It’s hard to gain and easy to lose. It’s difficult to define in its entirety and it’s nearly impossible to provide a list of guaranteed ways to build trust. Despite its illusive nature, we’ve rounded up some opinions and best-practices to help you create a trustworthy website and eCommerce operation.

Trust in eCommerce (What Is It?)

A research paper from McMaster University provides a working definition of trust, stating that trust is ‘the willingness to depend on an exchanging partner in whom one has confidence.’

Trust in eCommerce is slightly different than our normal understanding of trust though. Consider a business transaction at a brick and mortar location. You’ve seen the store before, and you recognize the name. Inside a person greets and assists you with your purchase. After paying, you leave the store with a real, physical good.

An eCommerce purchase is vastly different. You may not know the business reputation, location, contact information, or the owner. You don’t know their intentions, or whether or not the product will actually reach you. Due to the intangible nature of eCommerce, it is much more difficult to gain and maintain trust in your brand.

In the eCommerce industry, there are normally 3 distinct ‘players’ in the trust category. These are visitors, those who enter and browse the site; vendors, those who are selling products and host the website; and referees, 3rd party resources that help set industry standards and recognize organizations that meet those standards.

You might still be wondering what the point of trust is. It appears so malleable that it seems best to just ignore trust and keep running your business. Trust impacts buyer decisions at every step of the purchase process. Specifically, trust influences the decision to visit your site, buy your product, promote your brand, and return to the site again. If they don’t trust you, visitors won’t do any of those.

Being Trustworthy (How To Get It)

There are a number of steps you can take to build consumer trust. These range from web design principles to marketing communication. If you want to gain trust with your consumers, don’t negate some of these concepts:

Follow Industry Standards and Best Practices

When you search a term on Google, you expect a relevant list of results to be displayed. If that doesn’t happen, you become frustrated and lose a bit of confidence in the search capabilities.

This is the same with an eCommerce store – when customers don’t have access to features they’re accustomed to, they lose trust and confidence in the brand.

It’s a major argument for Nextopia Site Search: the best practices come preloaded. Best practices include things like: contact information, customer testimonials, on-site search performance, and accepting multiple payment methods.

Don’t Forget Design

People are more likely to trust a website that is visually appealing. It’s human nature. ConversionXL has a fantastic study and article explaining this concept in action. Visitors judge the ‘beauty’ of your website in just milliseconds.

When participants of the study were asked about why they didn’t trust a website, 94% of the provided reasons were design related. If you do nothing else to build trust, try giving your website a facelift!

Use the Power of People

Word of mouth marketing and customer testimonials are among the most powerful sales tools you have access to, don’t neglect them! The study emphasizes how effective testimonials are in getting customers to enter credit card information, particularly for high priced items.


Trust Tactics (How To Improve It)

You need to work at maintaining the trust of existing customers, while increasing your trustworthiness to new visitors. We have a few resources that can help those of you who are in this ‘maintenance’ stage.

Add More Trust Sources

It seems simple, but many businesses fail to add multiple sources of trust. Not everyone cares about all factors equally, and some people may be more trusting if you display seals instead of contact information.

To do this, think about how you can increase trust throughout the buyers journey, from initial contact to the final purchase. This infographic from KISSmetrics covers a number of easy ways you can increase your site’s trustworthiness.

Empower People With Information

Some people place different emphasis on different sources of trust. In fact, some people even place different emphasis on different aspects of trust sources. For example, it turns out not all trust seals are created equally. Norton dominates the security seal rankings, but combinations of multiple seals can add even more.

When in doubt, give customers the information they need to make their own decisions. You can look into the security seal report here.

Security Seal

If you want to test all of this yourself, spend some time navigating through your favourite eCommerce websites and you’ll be sure to find those you trust more than others. Pay attention to factors influencing that trust – they’ll likely have been discussed in the aforementioned points.

Additionally, if you advertise yourself as selling product ‘X’ but customers can’t find that product when searching your website – that affects their trust in your abilities. Our proven search technology takes care of one trust source, so you can focus on improving others. If you want to learn more about site search and trust, our expert team can be reached at 800-360-2191!

Do you have any trust stories from your own online adventures? Was there ever an eCommerce store you didn’t trust enough to make a purchase from? We’d love to hear your opinion and experiences, drop them in the comments below or let us know on twitter @Nextopia!

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