Firstly, understand that e-commerce acquires a lot of data. Simple newsletter sign ups may just involve an email address, or a simple profile creation. However, many retailers are collecting further data, such as birthdays and location. The full checkout process will involve full personal details such as billing/home address, delivery/work address and all card details and security number. Even a phone number for delivery is required.
Ask yourself the question, do your customers know where you live? When your birthday is? Your mobile phone number? It’s extreme thinking, however, it puts into perspective the level of trust needed to purchase from a new store. Gaining, and more importantly, retaining your customer's trust should be top priority when running an e-commerce business. Here’s how to make it, not break it.
1. Customer Service
Your customer service team is your front line of defence. They are your brand ambassadors. The point of contact at the end of the phone when problems occur. Hire intelligently and treat them well. With the correct resourcing you can hire great brand ambassadors who are great with clients, but people who believe in your product who want to help, not just the customers, but you and your business. There are many stories of great customer service online, do some research and get inspired.
2. Everyone is a representative
All of the operation, every moving piece, should be equal and on the same page when it comes to your brand standards and how to represent your company. From your customer service representatives, to which delivery firm you choose, to quality manufacturers. If there is a problem, it is your name on the line. Make them aware of your company ethos and make sure they stick to it
3. Reviews and endorsements are vital
92% of consumers now read online reviews. A website with no reviews, or endorsements from peers, gives no backing to a purchase decision. Encourage feedback and engage your customers post purchase. Remember, your customers are your best form of marketing. And encourage social testimonial. Whereas people may listen to 500 strangers, if 5 friends recommend your service then they are likely to try it out. When a customer writes a negative review, it not only damages your relationship with them, but can impact future sales, with 68% of purchasers agreeing that online reviews impact their decisions.
4. And don’t remove negative reviews or comments
Removing negative comments or reviews is seen as silencing your customer, or denying a problem with a product. Negative reviews can help you evolve as a company and feedback about products is important, especially if they are not performing, fitting or lasting as well as they should. Your customers can be your eyes if the delivery service is not performing as they should, or a product falls apart on first use. Respond and investigate, it can be a great way to see your business from the other side.
5. Make contact easy
There is a growing trend within the startup community to hide away contact details. Protect your own data, but provide customers multiple channels to contact you. Have a phone number and an email address in a prime location on your website, a physical office address is also a good idea. Be available on social channel and try to fix problems immediately. If you are too busy, or not comfortable managing social channels, hire someone to take this responsibility. Shopify is due to launch their Facebook messenger assistant in the UK this year, already live in the US, which can manage any inbound Facebook enquiries.
6. Clean up your website
Websites that look cluttered and unprofessional will not fill customers with confidence. First impressions count and excessive pop-ups, small or unclear imagery and no reviews or endorsements will not cut it in an oversaturated e-commerce environment. A modern, clean professional website, with solid endorsements, using video and imagery to promote the service or product will ultimately sell more.
7. A safe place to pay
Secure payment and checkout design can be half the battle of e-commerce purchases. To minimise cart abandonment, have a clear and concise checkout procedure. Make sure you are PCI compliant and verified by major card issuers. It’s worth a note that with Shopify, all payment gateways are approved and PCI compliant and has recently introduced the Apple Pay option. Make sure you have an SSL certificate and gain certification from companies such as Truste, Norton, Geotrust.com, and Verisign.com.
8. Trust content, not clickbait
Build your brand with knowledgeable, reliable, well-written content. Content marketing engages customers with topics that they would like to know more about. If they have purchased from you previously, or just signed up for more information, show them how knowledgeable you are about your industry. Provide helpful advice and current industry information, not funny GIFs, or photos of your new office or any other reason to email them. Make every communication count.
9. Be Human
Personalise your copy, marketing messages and emails. Constant spamming or irrelevant offers will more than likely lead to either being ignored or recipients unsubscribing, both damaging your brand. Every time your hit send, you are representing yourself and your brand. Customers should be intrigued or excited by your emails, not annoyed or frustrated. Remember just because they have purchased from you before doesn't give you free reign to pester them to purchase again. Your customers are humans, not just a set of numbers. Personalisation can go a long way. By remembering details (or using clever marketing automation) you can add a personal touch to any form of communication.
10. Take responsibility
If it’s a faulty product, a spammy email message, a misplaced delivery or a miscommunication, take responsibility when you need to. Now this is not to say the customer is always right, as online retailers you are aware that missed delivery, product breakage or wrong information can lie with the consumer. However, when it comes down to a fault in your supply chain, admit it and offer to rectify it. Offer a purchase guarantee and stand behind it, it will give your customers faith that when there is a problem you willing and ready to rectify it.
11. Shipping and returns
The ability to view, hold, try on, examine, test your products is an important aspect to retail full stop. But what happens if those products are not as shown on the website, too small, wrong colour, delivered too late? A solid returns policy is important in e-commerce. Make your policy clear and visible on your website, don’t hide any hidden charges in a midst of legal text. Consumer trust is based on them actually receiving the product and having the right to return it if it’s not suitable, the same as a bricks-and-mortar store.
12. Customer loyalty schemes
Rewarding customers returning customers, with either points or discounts, is your way of saying thank you. It not only encourages future sales but also can build community and competition around your products. It may cost in the short term, however by rewarding consumers, you’ll make life long fans of your brand.