How to build trust and credibility in your website ~
Would You Buy From Your Web Site?

Building trust and credibility through your web site will overcome half the battle when it comes to selling your products online.

The convenience of shopping from home and avoiding the crowds is set to attract record numbers of shoppers online this year. Amid the increased spending splurge online shoppers will be turning to a range of businesses that they have not previously bought from. Without a prior relationship, how do these people make online purchasing decisions, how do they know that their personal information will be safe and that their orders will arrive on time?

Your web site stands as the first impression for your business, and whether you sell products online or not, people will make their decision about buying from you based on what is, or is not, on your web site.

The key to attracting new customers will be ensuring that you build trust and creditability through your web site. Here are 6 tips to help you capitalise on this.

Looking Professional

The days of having your nephew design your web site are gone. This doesn’t mean that expensive web sites are better than their cost effective counterparts, it simply means that ‘looking professional’ must be judged in the context of your industry.

Your web site should reflect your type of business and the type of customers that you are trying to attract. Try answering these simple questions to gauge if your web site accurately reflects your business:
• Do you service the low, middle or high prestige end of the market?
• What types of people buy products from you?
• What age and financial demographics do your customers represent?
• Are your customers web savvy?
• What image are you trying to portray?

For example, if you sell mobile phone ring tones for teenagers a fun web site with flashing graphics, an abundance of colour and advanced web features would suit. Whereas a store selling Mont Blanc pens would attract business professionals and demand a simple web site that is easy to use, has a well branded sophisticated presentation and that oozes class.

Ask yourself this, would you buy from your web site? If your web site does not reflect your business and the image that you are trying to portray, try to work out ways that you can improve.
Track Record
You need to give your customers reasons why they should trust you. Your track record is one of the best assurances that you can give.

Build credibility through your web site by adding an ‘about us’ page that lets your customers know that you have been in business for 10 years, that you have sold over 20,000 widgets to people in 12 countries, that your clients include multinational companies and Government departments and that you have won 4 industry or business excellence awards. If you have received media attention add the newspaper articles to your web site too.

It’s important to remember that it is your track record, rather than flowery goals and ideals, that sells your business. So make sure that your mission statement is not the focus of your ‘about us’ page.

Client testimonials

Client testimonials are one of the best ways to appease people’s concerns about buying products through the internet.

Simply ask your customers for feedback about your customer service and products. You’ll find that many customers are happy to do this. The testimonials should ideally say why your business is better than your competitors, why the customer chose you and why they will deal with you again. The longer the list of testimonials and the better the reputation of some of your customers the more credibility you gain.

Then include these testimonials on a page called ‘customer comments’ that your potential customers can easily find.

Contact information

I continue to be amazed by the number of business web sites that fail to include basic contact information. These businesses are foregoing countless sales simply because their potential customers cannot contact them easily.

You should add a ‘contact us’ page to your web site that includes your e-mail addresses, web site contact form, phone numbers, fax numbers, physical address and postal address.

It’s also important not to put barriers between your business and potential customers by limiting the contact options. Some people may only want to contact you by phone or fax, others only by e-mail. For example, I prefer e-mail and if I can not find a valid e-mail address on a web site, I will move to the next business web site that has catered for MY preferred contact method.
Timely customer service
Timely customer service on the internet means answering your customers’ e-mail enquiries quickly and fulfilling orders in a timely manner.

For my businesses, we have a 24 hour e-mail policy whereby we strive to answer customers’ enquiries within 24 hours. Most businesses either take days to reply or don’t reply at all. This simple business courtesy alone goes a long way to ranking our business ahead of our competitors.

Nothing is more important than timely order fulfillment. It is essential that your potential customers know that you will deliver on time. To do this add information to your web site about the delivery time frames for orders, make sure that you keep your customers informed during the ordering process and follow through to deliver on time.

Assurances

The personal assurance that a hand shake and friendly body language provide in a face to face sales context are missing with a web site. Yet people still need to know that they will be safe when dealing with your business online.

Before making a purchasing decision a potential customer needs to know, for example, that you will respect their privacy, that you will not sell their e-mail address or other details to advertisers and that their credit card details are safe and secure. They also need to know what happens if the clothes that they buy through your web site don’t fit or are not of good quality.

These concerns can be easily alleviated by providing written policies on your web site including a privacy policy, a security policy, an ordering policy, warranty information and, as appropriate, a satisfaction guarantee.


If you review your web site with these tips in mind you will be a few steps ahead of your competitors and go along way to establishing credibility and increasing your sales.

 

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Sharon Wild writes ecommerce articles for Qld Business Review, she is also Strategy & Marketing Director of e-JAZ.com.au

Sharon Wild
Strategy & Marketing Director of e-JAZ, Sharon has been involved in the e-commerce community for several years. She successfully manages Australia's largest online jewellery store, Gillett's Jewellers.

Sharon can be contacted via email on sharon@e-jaz.com.au