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Five Ways To Build Trust Online
Remember, Trust is a Precursor to Buying Online

Whether one likes it or not, one has to admit that Cyberspace is a shadowy world where buyers must proceed with extreme caution to avoid getting conned. There’s no denying that bad apples abound on the World Wide Web, which is why it becomes imperative for the good apples to prove that their dealings are above board. In this brief article, we will look at five tools for evoking the trust of your online customers.

Tool #1: Security & Certifications

Whether we like it or not, we have to live with the bitter reality that the Internet is not perceived as being a safe medium. That is why you need to reiterate the security measures that you have taken… keep talking about them all across the site, especially on the Add To Cart and Checkout pages.

As far as your customers are concerned, there’s no such thing as too much security, so you are free to keep harping on your firewalls, your secure server, SSL (Secure Socket Layering) being enabled, and every other step that you may have taken to ensure the safety of transactions on your site. In particular, tell them to look for the symbol of the lock (indicating encryption of data) in the bottom right corner of the browser window. Added to these, the bank through which the online payment is made also has its own security measures in place — some of which are visible to your customers; for instance: the system of entering a Word Verification Code at the time of making the payment.

Likewise, certifications are extremely important for establishing your credibility, especially if they are widely acknowledged certifications like VeriSign, TRUSTe, thawte and BBB Online. So if you’ve got it, flaunt it — all across your site.

Tool #2: Online Shopping Cart & Process

If there’s anything that sends a customers ‘Suspicion Index’ soaring, it’s a site that tells you to order via email. You know, the kind that says ‘Click Here To Order’, and it then turns out to be a mailto link.
Make it a point to build a proper Shopping Cart functionality on your site — it convinces prospective buyers that you are serious about selling online on a long-term basis.

Your site should clearly specify the steps in the checkout process. Research indicates that a confusing checkout process causes buyers to drop out at without completing the transaction. This dropout rate according to one such study could be as high as 30 percent.

Another highly effective confidence builder lies in prominently displaying the logos of the credit cards that the site accepts: Master, Visa, American Express, etc.
Emphasise the fact that the actual financial transaction takes place on the bank’s server and not on the server of the shopping site. Thus, the customer’s data is processed with complete confidentiality and safety.

If your site is open to customers all over the world, it is a good idea to provide an online currency converter. Customers are often dissatisfied when they end up paying more than they expected to, on account of currency conversion rates. The online converter enables them to convert all prices on the site to their currency on a real-time basis — so what they see is what they pay.

Tool #3: Contact Information

Typically, fly-by-night operators on the web tend to hide behind email Ids, P. O. Box numbers and suspiciously incomplete addresses. Thus, a simple way to establish your bona fides is by clearly stating all your contact information: full postal address, telephone numbers, fax number, email ID, etc. under the Contact Us link. Further, if you have a presence across various countries, the complete addresses of the representatives or offices in each country should be mentioned in the Contact Us section.

Tool #4: Policies

All professional online sellers have their policies upfront on their sites — especially, their Return Policy and Delivery Policy. These go a long way in building customer confidence by clearly indicating the terms on which goods purchased can be returned, and the norms and time schedules for delivery of goods bought online. In fact, the most common grievances voiced by online shoppers is that the goods were delivered after much delay and that despite having defects or being damaged, they could not be returned because the seller had not spelt his policies out on his site.

Tool #5: Testimonials

Internet research has clearly established the fact that online buyers rely extensively on word-of-mouth recommendations, reviews and customer testimonials. A recent study by the Internet & Mobile Association of India reveals that 31 per cent of respondents had found online shopping sites through word-of-mouth information; 52 percent attached importance to consumer reviews; and an overwhelming 93 percent said they would recommend online shopping to others.
It is, therefore, a good idea to create a section or a functionality on your site through which your customers can share their online shopping experience.

We started this article by stating that Cyberspace is full of shady characters. This in itself presents a huge opportunity for serious and genuine online sellers.

By using the above tools to differentiate themselves, they can corner the lion’s share of the opportunities that lie ahead.
Look at it this way — online shopping is huge (a report released by estatsindia puts the size of the B2C market at INR 17 billion for 2005-06), and growing exponentially, the CAGR being over 50 percent. The same report estimates that the figure will cross the INR 90 billion mark by 2009. Aren’t the stakes high enough to be investing in some basic confidence building measures?

To commence or enhance online shopping initiatives on your website or portal, call Sonya at 9810138643 or write to  sonya@istratindia.com

Note: All logos/logotypes shown above are owned by the respective companies

For more information on the fully integrated web marketing services offered by iStrat, please call Sonya at 98101 38643 or email: sonya@istrat.in

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