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