While online shopping is safe for the vast majority of customers, there are still some people who are so concerned about fraud that they are reluctant to enter their card details on an e-commerce site.

According to a Get Safe Online survey (pdf) from last year, 14% of people in the UK are deterred from using the internet due to fear of online crime, so what can e-tailers do to combat such concerns?

In a blog post yesterday, Bryan Eisenberg suggests
that online retailers can deal with this issue by providing the option
of making a purchase over the phone by providing a visible contact
number throughout the site and checkout process.

He also cites the example of PetFoodDirect,
which saves on call centre resources by having customers fill in their
order online, minus card details, and requesting a call back. This is a
good idea, though companies would need to make sure these calls were
made quickly so customers would feel confident in using this option.

Certainly, offering a phone number as an alternative is good
practice, and for customer service as well as just for sales.
Reassurance over the phone about a product or some details of the
purchase can make all the difference.

Having looked at a few UK online retailers, it’s surprising that
many aren’t providing the option of ordering by phone. While Comet
provides a phone number to order throughout the site, as well as a
click to chat option, many others don’t, including Tesco and M&S. 

There are a couple of other ways to deal with customers’ fraud concerns though:

  • Making your site as trustworthy as possible and addressing concerns about fraud and security may persuade some cautious shoppers to go ahead and make a purchase.

    Provide
    reassurance throughout the site, especially on product and payment
    pages about privacy and security issues, also third party verification
    logos such as VeriSign provide evidence that a site can be trusted.

    Shoppers
    also want to see contact details for reassurance that they can get in
    touch if something goes wrong with an order. Previous surveys have
    shown that customers are reluctant to purchase anything from a site
    which doesn’t provide these details.

  • Offer alternative payment options – some shoppers that are reluctant to enter credit or debit card details may be persuaded to buy if your site offers a payment method such as PayPal or Google Checkout.

    This may also increase conversions; in a recent US 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.