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Reports of online fraud are often enough to make customers think twice about shopping on the internet, so how can you reassure them?

There are a number of things that retailers can do to make customers feel safe about shopping online, as well as mistakes that can damage trust in an e-commerce website.

Here are a few dos and don'ts...

Don't:

Change the URL across the site

Fashion retailer Mode Urbaine's URL changed from modeurbaine.com to http://trial208320.ecomtest.com when users clicked on the link for its online shop.

This may have been teething troubles, but it doesn't do much to establish customer trust.

Hide the browser address bar during payment

The 'https' at the beginning of the URL on a transaction page is a major indicator of security. Hiding this will set alarm bells ringing.

This also applies to the status bar and the padlock symbol showing that the site has a digital certificate and that information submitted will be secured using SSL encryption.

Hide delivery and other charges

Customers need to know about delivery charges or any other extras in advance to help them decide on a purchase, but this is also credibility. If you hit users with hidden costs at the checkout stage, then this will affect levels of trust in the site.

Make delivery charges as clear as possible to eliminate any such confusion. Woolworths does this on the homepage of its website, as well as providing some useful reassurance about security:

Give customers any surprises at the checkout

Explain to customers why they have to enter credit card or other personal information, don't suddenly ask for this on registration pages without warning and explanation.

Have slow loading checkout / transaction pages

No part of you website should be slow to load, as this will frustrate customers and have them abandoning the site, but slow loading pages are especially bad during the checkout process.

For instance, when booking train tickets recently on the National Express website, after entering my card details, the payment confirmation page took five minutes to load.

This will have customers wondering whether or not their payment has gone through, and whether they will trust the site with their card details again.

Do:

Provide user reviews

User reviews are great for increasing conversions by giving customers useful and hopefully impartial information about a product.

It can also have the effect of improving credibility, especially if retailers don't suppress negative reviews, and makes a website seem more trustworthy.

Make contact details easy to find

Contact details are essential to reinforce customer trust, users need to know that they can get in touch with someone if they have a problem with the product or delivery.

Sites should provide a telephone contact number, as well a postal and email address. Displaying these details prominently helps to reassure customers, while not providing these details will make them suspicious.

In a survey last year, 50% of respondents said they would never buy from a site that failed to provide a contact number.

Offer alternative payment methods

Some people may never be happy with submitting their credit or debit card details online, so providing alternative methods of payment may help with these concerns.

This may also increase conversions; in a recent survey by TrialPay, 59% of respondents said they would be more likely to buy online if alternative methods like Google Checkout and PayPal were available.

Provide trustmarks

Third party certification logos provide further evidence for customers that a site can be trusted, so display these icons prominently on the website, and especially on product and checkout pages.

Verisign logo

Provide information on security and privacy policies

Logos are fine, but some people may prefer to read more about server security and privacy policies, so provide links to this information.

Related research:
Online Retail 2007: Checkout Special

Related stories:
House of Lords calls for action on online security
Trust in online shopping improving - study

Graham Charlton

Published 2 July, 2008 by Graham Charlton

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

2565 more posts from this author

Comments (1)

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Richard Powell

Nice succint tips. These nicely illustrate best practice.

I suggest including a link to the privacy policy in addition to the trustmark. Although few customers will read it, having it easily accessible is reassuring.

about 7 years ago

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