When hopping from one online store to another for some household items, I often find it challenging to pick a store because some websites don’t appear genuine. They could be, but I don’t ‘feel’ it.
I don’t know about you but when a website looks stale and I can’t find out who you are or where you’re based… from a simple browse, something tells me to look elsewhere, because I don’t know where my money would end up.
So this got me thinking about what makes a website trustworthy and not come across as a fraudster? My answer is below and based on my experience as an online shopper. I’m sure if you consider these basics you will be on your way to giving your visitors a much better experience and many reasons to trust you!
1/ The URL
If your site’s address looks weird, it’s unlikely your visitors would continue browsing. Consider purchasing a new domain which clearly represents the name of your shop. If you can’t find the one you want then have a good think about alternative domain names. The worse case scenario is having to rebrand. I would only suggest this if you have other plans for changing your business brand.
2/ The look
It’s surprising that many craft shops still look like they were designed in the 90s. I find this weird because website designs have evolved and the templates for online shops are now more slick than before. So why keep with the old styles when you can update to something more modern and inviting? Avoid going cheap, because cheap usually spells unsafe. Explore new eCommerce tools available for online stores. Most good ones show examples from their current clients. Check them out and grab a trial version to see it for yourself.
3/ Product photos
Some online stores lack images of the products they’re selling. They show a ‘no image available’ or a permanent ‘coming soon’ image (and then the image never gets updated). It’s hard for someone to buy a product when they can’t even see what it looks like. Snap a good and clear photo with your camera or recruit a photographer to take photos of your products. If reselling products then find out whether you should be asking the brands for their permission to use their photos. That way you can use their professional stock images.
4/ Web copy
What visitors read on the website is very important because they’re the words that would convince them to make a purchase. Poor description of the products could be turning them away if they’re unable to understand what the product is, what it does, who it’s meant for, what accessories they would need to buy and whether they can return if it doesn’t match the description. If you don’t have a copywriter on your team, then write as much accurate information about the product so that it reads as if the reader has never heard of it before. Write in plain, simple language and if possible also include a manual or video. If you can afford to, find a copywriter who can explain both the features and benefits of your products.
5/ Contact and About Us details
There are many online shops without a postal address. Showing a postal address adds credibility. A customer wants guarantee that if something goes wrong or you go off the grid they can use your contact address or phone number to track you down. If you want to avoid calls from strangers then at least provide a post office box number for customers to contact you. If you claim that customers should trust you then provide your information. Who are you? How did you start this business? Am I talking to a human? How many years have you been in business? Why should customers buy from you and not from someone else?
Customers are becoming smarter and know to look for the “padlock” on the browser which indicates that your checkout page is secure. They need confirmation that when they type in their credit card number there won’t be any risk of it being stolen. They need to know that their money will be transmitted securely. Invest in secure hypertext transfer protocol (HTTPS) and secure sockey layer (SSL) certificates for your site. Another option is to use an eCommerce tool that does it for you. Display their security logos and a statement about secure only payment on your site to indicate that it’s safe to browse and pay.
7/ Payment system
Many scammers use the same payment system that genuine shops use. However, the only way for a small shop or business to look genuine is to use the eCommerce tools from brands that people know – for example PayPal, banks – to collect and process online payments. This way, you will show, from first glance, that your business is legit.
8/ Email address
Some online stores are still using free email addresses for customers to contact them. These include addresses from Gmail, Yahoo and Hotmail. Others use emails from their internet service provider and the domain has no connection with their business name. Set up online store email address so that you are using the same domain as your website. If you still want to manage it through Gmail or similar service, then link the business email account to your free service. It’s very easy, but if you need help then contact your website host for guidance.
9/ Testimonials and reviews
One way to show that your online store can be trusted is to show testimonials and reviews on your site. It’s like having a seal of approval and ‘thumbs up’. Be sure to include comments from companies or clients who are easily recognised. Include their business names also. If you don’t have any then set up a system that allows you to contact your clients to ask them to rate your service and products. This helps boost your reputation and will make you look good to new visitors.
10/ A blog for your online store
A blog is a useful add-on and bonus to your online store as a tool to provide additional information on what you do, what you are offering, and ways to benefit from what’s on offer. It also gives you the opportunity to engage with your potential customers and their friends because you can produce content that can be shared on social media. This is one easy way to bring traffic to your online store. It’s not a must-have but great to have to start conversations about the products or services you are selling. Copywriters also write blog posts if you don’t have time to do it yourself. Consider hiring a copywriter to ‘ghost’ for you.
Over to you now. Have you noticed anything on an online store that made you think twice about purchasing from them?