Establishing customer's trust is essential in online retail, there are plenty of reasons why customer may be reluctant to buy online - reports of online fraud are enough to dissuade many people from shopping online.

While nothing is guaranteed to make customers trust your website, there are many things which will damage trust, and trust is very difficult to re-establish once it is damaged.

A government study back in October revealed that 18% of UK internet users were so concerned about online fraud that they were put off online shopping altogether, with people more wary of online crime than any other criminal activity.

Despite this perception, e-tailers are taking steps to combat fraud - 73% of UK retailers in a recent CyberSource survey said that losses from fraud have either dropped or remained the same.

Here are some do's and don'ts:

  • Don't hide the browser address bar on a transaction page. 
    By doing this, users  are denied access to one of the major indicators of transaction security - https at the start of the URL on a payment page. One of the National Consumer League's 6 tips for shopping safely online is "when you provide payment information the http at the beginning of the address bar should change to https or shttp".
  • Don’t give your customers any surprises at the end of a transactional process.
    If credit card or any other personal details are required, make sure a user is aware of this before they reach this step, and explain why.

    This is not just about security - hitting customers with unexpected charges at the end of a transaction is guaranteed to annoy them. In a recent survey, 67% of shoppers said such surprises would make them abandon a transaction.

  • Always provide links to further information and reassurances about security and privacy issues.
    Many web users are concerned about privacy issues, and some will want as much reassurance as possible. Make sure you provide a link to your site's privacy policy, and make sure that link is working properly. 
  • Always make sure any 3rd party certification logos are linked to proof of certification.
    Having 3rd party certification of a site, such as VeriSign, is usually persuasive evidence that the site can be trusted. The certification logo should, however, be more than a simple image - these logos should link to further information about the validity of the certificate.
  • Don't hide the browser status bar on a transaction page
    Hiding the browser status bar denies users another key indicator of trustworthiness: the little padlock icon showing that the site has a digital certificate and that information submitted from this page will be secured using SSL encryption.
  • Always provide a phone number and other contact information.
    This is very basic, but some sites still don't provide contact details, or make them hard to find. No sensible customer will buy from such a site - in the survey mentioned above, 48% found this annoying, while 50% would never purchase anything from a site which doesn't provide these details.

Further reading:
Online Retail User Experience Benchmarks 2006

Graham Charlton

Published 1 June, 2007 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is the former Editor-in-Chief at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin or Google+

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Comments (2)


Rebecca West


Despite the growth of e-commerce in the past decade, according to a 2006 Bear Sterns report, over 50% of Internet users still don’t buy online and online merchants continue to struggle with the question of how to convert shoppers into buyers. One of the key factors driving conversion is buyer confidence, but buyers have a very difficult time reliably telling the difference between good sellers and bad sellers, particularly if the online merchant isn’t backed by a large, recognizable brand. Risk perceptions around online fraud, counterfeiting, personal data infringement and non-delivery have eroded customer confidence and created major barriers for lesser known eRetailers to compete effectively. As reported by the Internet Crime Complaint Center, the total dollar loss from all referred cases of online fraud was $198.44 million in 2006, with a median dollar loss of $724 per complaint. Internet auction fraud was by far the most reported offense, comprising 44.9% of referred complaints. Legitimate online merchants pay the price for this, in the form of diminished sales and customer confidence, especially smaller eRetailers who haven't established name recognition.

New buySAFE research shows that the use of credible trust signals can help increase buyer confidence and visitor conversion rates for online merchants. According to a recent impact study, 150 eBay sellers representing approximately 2.7 million items, reported that by displaying the buySAFE trust seal on their transactions, they experienced a 6.8% lift in conversion on bonded fixed price items. Auction merchants also found success with a 2.3% increase in average selling price (ASP) across 500,000 tested items. Merchants on auctions also found a 3-4x impact when the buySAFE signal was included in the buyers’ search mechanism, and achieved 71% higher sales conversion when the buySAFE Seal was implemented at the search level. The study found that the buySAFE seal adds even more value for higher priced items. Incorporating buySAFE into eBay items priced above $100 resulted in a 12.2% average revenue increase. Conversion impact holds across several product categories, with exceptional strength in key categories, including jewelry and watches (23.9%), cell phones (10.6%), and consumer electronics & computers (7.3%). The buySAFE seal also showed a dramatic impact on merchants’ ROI, with a 1754% increase for merchants selling electronics and computers.

If you are interested in hearing more about how credible trust signals can help boost sales revenue, we’d love to set up a time for you to speak with Jeff Grass, buySAFE’s CEO. Jeff is an expert resource who can comment on buySAFE’s research statistics and outline several clear, compelling signals that can be implemented on any website, including SSL certificates, third party verifications, third party regulation, feedback/merchant ratings, bonding services, and branding/advertising.

Thanks in advance for your interest,

Rebecca West

Atomic PR for buySAFE


about 11 years ago



I always appreciate when sites have live chat available during checkout - must have someone on the other end, of course!

over 8 years ago

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