I wrote an article recently about the use of e-commerce trustmarks and how important it was for sites to display trustmark logos. 

Though they may help some sites, trustmarks alone are not the answer, and factors such as brand trust, price, usability and good design all combine to reassure customers about making a purchase. 

A recent post on the FutureNow blog makes this point, and argues that the need for ‘costly’ security indicators, can be avoided with good cart / checkout design. 

The post cites the example of the Groupon checkout, which avoids the need for security logos, thanks to the overall experience, touches such as the insistence on capturing the card CCV code, visible FAQs which deal with any payment queries, and good form design

I’ve been looking at some examples from UK e-commerce sites, with and without security logos, to see how they compare to Groupon...

Nabru (click image for a larger version) has decided not to use any trustmark logos at all, and instead relies on a well designed site and forms that are easy to complete. 

While there are no security logos on this page, though the Verified by Visa and Secure Code logos appear next to the payment button, the information about free returns, as well as the clearly displayed contact telephone number and email address, all offer reassurance to customers. 

Another example comes from the Wiltshire Farm Foods site, which doesn’t display and trustmark logos at all. 

Instead, there is a written explanation of the fact that the site uses McAfee to scan the site on a daily basis, which is actually more meaningful than a simple logo, especially for a site that is aimed at an older age group. 

Also, the text on the payment page adds to the reassurance, explaining to shoppers that the site uses ‘the latest technology to ensure that your credit card details are safe and secure.’

This clear explanation can be more effective than logos which many web users may not be aware of, while the overall look of the site, and simple form design adds to the experience and doesn’t give users any reason to doubt the security of the site. 

By contrast, the new Booksetc site seems a bit too keen to provide security reassurances: 

The intentions are good, but it could, as the Lovehoney example in this post demonstrates, be counter-productive and actually give customers ‘the fear’ by making them think too much about security. 

If you are going to use trustmarks, rather than plastering the checkout process with too many symbols, limiting this to one or two logos would be a better idea. 

Also, since many shoppers may not know what some of these trustmarks actually mean, an explanation about the steps taken to ensure security of transactions, as in the Groupon and Wiltshire Farm Foods examples, may be far more effective. 

Perhaps more importantly, the positive examples I have used all have well-designed checkout processes, with well-designed forms that make it smoother for customers to complete purchases, avoiding the kinds of problems which may give customers cause for concern.