Posts Tagged ‘online sales’
Nearly all small businesses face a common challenge. This challenge is demonstrating to potential customers that your small business is credible, trustworthy and has a track record of success and delivering products and services. This challenge is typically derived from the fact that when someone gets to a small business website, they often do not have any indication whether they can trust that small business if the shopper wants to buy from that business.
Further complicating matters for small businesses online, is the constant threat of fraud and misuse of personal and financial information that weighs heavily on online users minds. This fear of shoppers online is real and tangible. In fact, a Javelin Strategy & Research study found that the fear of identify theft and online shopping in general cost retailers over $21 billion in lost sales in 2008.
A June 2009 McAfee’s study showed that 92 percent of consumers are concerned about their security when shopping on new or unknown websites. Further, that study found that 63% of shoppers will not purchase from a web site that does not display a security policy or other indications of trustworthiness. A 2009 Verisign Security Report also found that nearly 50% of internet users avoid buying online due to concerns that their financial information will be stolen. The report also found that 83% of internet users want assurances that their information will be secure.
These concerns are getting the attention of all types of businesses, including industry giants like Microsoft. Scott Charney, Microsoft’s Corporate Vice President of Trustworthy Computing, said at the 2009 RSA Security Conference that “When [shoppers] visit Web sites, they don’t know if that Web site is to be trusted or not. For all of these reasons we need End-to-End Trust.”
Steps for Small Business to Demonstrate Trust
Shoppers concerns with buying online are well documented and the data supports those concerns. The good news is that there are some simple steps that all small businesses can take to demonstrate trust on their website to shoppers:
1. Management/Owner Information: Be transparent to your shoppers. Prominently display under a Management tab the names of the owners of your business. Make sure you add some background information on that manager/owner. You can even include it in story form. This information gives shoppers comfort that there is a real person behind your business and makes it more personal.
2. Use Online Video to Virtually Introduce Yourself: A hot new trend is using online videos, through a YouTube clip, that introduces the management of your small business to shoppers and potential customers. Here are some good tips in this prior post on using videos to build trust and credibility for your small business on your website.
3. Contact Information: Another way to build trust is to clearly and prominently display contact information including phone number and email addresses for customer service and management contacts. By showing shoppers that they can contact you in case there are any product or service issues, you give them comfort that your business is accessible.
4. Return, Shipping, Customer Service & Data Policies: It is important that you clearly provide a list of your return, shipping, customer service and data protection policies. It is important enough that small businesses should consider devoting a whole tab or area of their website where shoppers can visit and see what are the policies for your business. Again the goal here should be the more information about these policies the better.
5. Trust and Validation Marks/Seals: The 2009 Verisign Security Report found that 86% of online shoppers feel more confident about entering personal and financial information with sites that have some type of security indicators, such as trustmarks. A few seals provides much of the information that is covered in this post through just one seal that resides on an online store’s website. Look for those seals.
6. Customer Feedback: Show that you can be trusted and also let people know your track record with customers by publishing comments about your product, service and business.
7. Actively Engage Customers: Use social media sites and tools like Twitter, Facebook and a blog to profile your business, create a tangible brand and personality and also engage customers. These conversations with your customer and the community give shoppers a more complete, in-depth and intimate look into your business. These conversations and having them like we have covered in previously posts via Twitter and your blog only make your business more credible.
Also one of our favorites, Inc Magazine has a good article on this same topic of online trust and you should check that out too.
Please tell us in the comments section below what you look for before you buy online.
*Image from Bill Mullins Blog.