Love at first site


For online stores, initial impressions are important so pay attention to the details to build trust and then sales.

When it comes to buying online, a huge barrier needs to be overcome before a customer will hand over their credit-card details. That barrier is trust, and while most customers will not actually ask if they can trust a certain online store, it is an intrinsic and instinctive element that either drives customers to buy, or drives them away.

There are a few difference reasons potential customers may be wary of online shopping…

1. They are either new to online shopping, and the idea of buying from the internet scares them

2. They are wary of phishing scams, malware or their credit-card information being stolen

3. They don’t want to spend their hard-earned money on a dodgy product, deal with a dodgy retailer or have a negative customer experience

The first two obstacles are relatively easy to address: if someone doesn’t want to shop online, they will not, and they’re probably not your target market anyway. There’s not much you can do there. If you offer secure checkout methods and an SSL certificate, that should be enough to convince buyers you are not stealing from them.

However, the third point is a little harder to measure, and therefore a challenge for online retailers to overcome. A possible sign of lack of trust might be that while your online store is having significant traffic, the conversion rate is below average, or you are having a lot of cart abandonments.

“A badly designed site is like a badly designed store: things are hard to find and the signs have spelling mistakes, which does not encourage purchases.”

As a digital-marketing specialist, there are a few aspects I pay attention to when building sites and improving conversion rates for clients…

Attend to website basics

The quickest way to lose customers is a badly structured site, typos, bad grammar and low-resolution images. Any of these things erode consumer trust and confidence.

Many online store owners are a one (wo)man show. As the store starts out, most owners choose a layout themselves, write their own copy and source their own images. Unfortunately, when you’re the only person proofing your site, errors are easily missed. It is vitally important that your online store not only sells great products, but looks and works well also. A badly designed site is like a badly designed store: things are hard to find and the signs have spelling mistakes, which does not encourage shoppers to stay or ever return.

How to implement

When you build (or add to) your site, it is essential to let someone proof it before it goes live. This covers alignment and overall page layouts as viewed on multiple devices.

Ensure your site is mobile responsive

If your website is still fixed width, you need to prioritise converting it to be mobile responsive. Not only does Google penalise fixed-width sites — meaning you have little hope of appearing in Google searches — you are cutting yourself out of a major market. About 52.7 per cent of users worldwide access the internet from mobile devices — that exceeds desktop use — and this percentage is predicted to rise.

By not having your site mobile responsive, not only are you missing out on a major market, but visitors might question the quality and legitimacy of your product if you can’t even stay up-to-date on fundamental website requirements.

How to implement

Depending on what platform you use for your site, it might automatically be mobile responsive, or you may need to engage a web developer to code this for you. In my experience, even “automatic” mobile sites need rejigging to look good and work effectively, so be sure to investigate your site options.

Invest in a professional email address

Call me pedantic, but if I’m going to be handing over my money online I would prefer to do it to [email protected] rather than [email protected]. Your email address is just another way of presenting yourself online. Many store owners don’t feel the need to register a professional email address, but it is detrimental to their brand’s image. Customers might question your experience or, worse, wonder if you are a legitimate business at all, or serious about your business. After all, if you can’t justify spending a few dollars a month on an email address, why should they hand over $60 for a handmade necklace?

How to implement

Speak to your domain registrar or investigate G Suite from Google to register [email protected], or simply [email protected]. If you can go that step further and segregate customerservice@ or billing@, you’re miles ahead.

Leverage customer reviews

All products should have customer reviews on their description page. Most online store platforms, such as Shopify, have an easy-to-install app that lets customers leave feedback. If you are concerned about negative feedback, you might want to look at improving your product or service.

Even if you receive the odd negative feedback, if most reviews are positive many customers will put it down to the single customer or one negative experience, rather than the product itself. However, if your product is receiving ongoing negative reviews, it’s a good sign you need to either scratch the product or redevelop it.

How to implement

Encourage customers to leave product reviews by setting up automated emails. Many eCommerce platforms offer apps that will automatically ask customers to give feedback after they receive their product. You can even review the feedback before pushing it live to your site.

While gaining trust in online selling is often the sum of many tiny elements, it is vital to get the absolute essentials right before you start focusing on pretty packaging and thank-you cards.

Madeline Avery, Director, Birdcage Marketing