Building a trustworthy online shop: 10 tips for e-commerce retailers

If you want to succeed in e-commerce, it’s essential to gain your customers’ trust. After all, potential customers will only buy from your shop if they think it’s a serious, legitimate business. Are you ready to create a shop that will immediately win your customers' trust? Want to know the do's and don'ts of building a trustworthy e-commerce business? This article will tell you what you need to know.

Why is trust so important in e-commerce?

When you walk into a brick-and-mortar store, you can almost immediately tell if it’s the kind of business you can trust. You look for many subtle clues, often unconsciously. But it’s not always so simple to evaluate an online shop. That’s why it’s crucial to take the right steps to win your visitors’ trust, so they will be more likely to become loyal customers. 

Visitors who feel like your shop is trustworthy are more likely to browse through your products and make a purchase. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to give your shop a professional, trustworthy appearance that customers will immediately recognise. By taking those steps, you will boost your sales and see a positive increase in other important e-commerce KPIs, such as: 

This is why building trust is one of the best things you can do for your business as an e-commerce retailer, especially if you’re just getting started in online retail or building a new online shop.

10 tips for building a trustworthy online shop

These 10 tips will help you provide a secure shopping experience and build the kind of shop your customers will trust immediately.

1. Use a professional shop design

10 tips for building a trustworthy online shop - 1. Use a professional shop design

The design of your shop is the first thing visitors notice. It not only includes the look and feel of the shop, but also its usability. Start by choosing a layout that is visually appealing and professional-looking. 

It’s also important to make sure that your users can easily navigate your site and quickly find what they are looking for. The following points will help you make your store even more trustworthy:

  • Display the content in a consistent, user-friendly way
  • Use a clear, easy-to-understand layout
  • Use logical category headings and make the shop simple for users to navigate
  • Ensure that all text is 100% free of typos
  • Use high-quality images
  • Ensure that pages can load quickly

It’s also important that your shop’s design is optimised for viewing on a mobile device. And if you’re selling to cross-border customers, make sure your content and prices are always localised to the right languages and currencies.

2. Offer perfect product pages

In addition to your homepage, your product pages are critical to building customers’ trust. Ideally, your product pages should answer all your customers’ important questions, such as:

  • How will this product solve my problem?
  • Is it the right size/dimensions?
  • Is it made using high-quality materials?

There are a few must-haves that every product page should include:

  • Detailed product descriptions, divided into sections to make them easy to read
  • A wide range of product photos taken from different angles and distances
  • Information about product availability (is the item in stock?)
  • Information about shipping costs, including your returns policy
  • Recent product reviews

If you’re looking for industry-specific tips to improve your product pages, be sure to check out our complete industry-specific guide to boosting conversion.

3. Be transparent and accessible

If you want your customers to see your business as honest and serious, make sure you communicate your brand, values and purpose to them. Many visitors will click over to your ‘About us’ page to learn the personal story behind your products. Ensure you communicate what your brand stands for and which important topics (such as sustainability) are important to you. Showing that you share your customers’ values is a fantastic way to create even greater trust in your online shop.

Customer support is another crucial factor for building trust. Answering questions quickly and offering professional support shows your customers that you are a serious online business. This means your website must include a contact page that lists all the important contact information about your company:

  • Phone number
  • Email address (ideally containing the domain name of your website)
  • Physical shop locations (if any)
  • An option to contact or chat with customer support online

4. Showcase customer satisfaction

10 tips for building a trustworthy online shop - 4. Showcase customer satisfaction

Another key factor for making your online shop trustworthy is ‘social proof’. This involves publishing product ratings and reviews written by existing customers. Their opinions give potential customers a clearer view of whether they can trust your shop. 

Reviews are also a relevant source of information that help potential customers decide whether they want to buy from your shop. They contain useful details, such as…

  • whether the product description is accurate
  • how the product fits
  • how quickly the order was delivered
  • how customer support responded to any issues

Your shop’s social media presence is equally important for building trust. Customers expect trustworthy businesses to regularly interact with the public on Instagram and other popular platforms. What you post—and how often—can have as much of an influence on your trustworthiness as your ratings on sites like Trustpilot.

5. Guarantee data security

If you want to see how serious an online shop is, look at how they handle (and communicate about) data security. It’s important to include the following security-related items on your website:

  • Detailed information about the cookies your site uses, including an opt-out feature
  • A GDPR-compliant privacy policy (if you sell to EU customers)
  • A professional-looking ‘Contact’ page, including your company’s VAT ID and trade registry information
  • Web security measures, including HTTPS encryption

You should also abide by the principle of data minimisation. That means you only collect the information you need to process and ship the customer’s order. It’s often smart to allow customers to place an order using a guest account instead of requiring them to create a user account. This gives first-time users a chance to test your site. Once you have earned their trust, they are more likely to create a user account when they place future orders. 

6. Ensure payment security

Payment security is absolutely essential for building trust with your customers. That’s why you must offer secure payment methods and comply with the highest payment security standards. These include:

  • PCI DSS standards for credit card payments
  • Two-factor authentication

Security certificates and trustmarks are more must-haves for demonstrating your shop’s payment security standards.

7. Display consumer trustmarks and certificates

Trustmarks and certificates help boost your customers’ confidence. These emblems show customers that your shop has been verified and approved by independent auditors. And they have been proven to have a positive influence on customer behaviour. 

E-commerce certificates can be used to verify the quality of many aspects of your online shop. The table below lists some of the most important quality seals, as well as the standards used to issue them.

Trusted ShopsStarting at 99€/monthOne yearData security; compliance with information obligations; shop contains no unlawful texts
S@fer Shopping (TÜV SÜD)Individual pricingUnlimited, but audited annuallyData protection; cybersecurity; cloud solutions
Internet privacy standards (ips)Individual pricing2 years, but audited annuallyIT security; data protection; data processing

8. Offer customer-friendly payment methods

10 tips for building a trustworthy online shop - 8. Offer customer-friendly payment methods

The payment methods you offer in your shop have a major influence on consumer trust. It’s essential that you offer your customers a selection of payment methods. Increasingly, online consumers also expect the option to ‘buy now, pay later’. 

However, payment in advance is less risky for you as a retailer. That’s why it’s important to offer well-known, trusted payment options. This reassures your customers that they will be able to receive a full refund if they don’t receive their order or if they decide to return it (in line with your policy).

If you are selling across national borders, also be sure to offer the payment methods that are most popular in your customers’ countries.

9. Make transactions simple and transparent

To maximise customer trust, it’s important that you communicate clearly with them, every step of the way. For example, it’s helpful to offer potential customers who are browsing your shop useful FAQs that answer all their questions. 

Also make sure that your ordering process is easy to navigate. The last thing you want to do is surprise the customer with unexpected information during checkout—especially related to the price. When a customer is confronted with a higher price than they expected, they may doubt the legitimacy of your shop. The same applies if you are not transparent about your shipping prices before the customer starts the checkout process. That’s why it’s important to:

  • display your shipping costs as early as possible
  • notify the customer that customs fees may apply to international shipments
  • offer the option to enter discount codes early in the checkout process
  • make the shopping cart simple to use and navigate
  • include a link to your contact page in case the customer needs help

After a customer has placed an order, you should send them regular email notifications to keep them up to date on the order’s status. For example, send an email when:

  • the order is received
  • the order is shipped
  • the order is split into multiple shipments
  • the customer returns an item

10. Use advertising in moderation

Marketing is a valuable tool for reaching your target group and raising awareness about your online shop. It can also help to build trust. However, the look of your advertising is not the only important factor; the frequency of customer contact really matters. Shops that bombard customers with too many ads seem less trustworthy.

The same applies to how often you send your newsletter. If customers receive emails from you too often, they’re more likely to perceive your emails as spam. Even if customers voluntarily sign up to receive your newsletter, it’s important not to abuse their trust by flooding their inboxes with marketing messages. When it comes to trustworthy advertising for your online shop, remember the golden rule: quality instead of quantity.

Summary: Checklist for building a trustworthy online shop

To make sure your shop appears trustworthy, remember to put yourself in your customers’ position. The most important thing is that the shop has a professional look and feel. You also need to avoid any unpleasant surprises that might raise doubts in your customers’ minds. Customers look for various signs when deciding whether they can trust your shop. The checklist below summarises the most important steps you can take to gain their trust:

No.Trust-building tacticMust-have for building trustNice-to-have for building trust
1Professional web designHigh-quality images; typo-free text; user-friendly navigation; optimised for all devicesEasy-to-understand category names; translation and localisation into all relevant languages and currencies for international customers
2Clear product page designDetailed product descriptions and photos; recent product reviewsDetailed information about shipping and returns
3Accessibility‘About us’ and contact pages, including email address and phone numberProfessional email address using your shop’s domain; directory of your stores’ physical locations (if any)
4Social proofPositive product and shop reviews; interactions on social mediaProduct reviews from customers including photos and descriptions of how items fit, etc.
5Data securityDetailed information about your data processing and data protection measuresAllow customers to order using a guest account
6Payment securityStatement of conformity with payment security standardsWell-known certifications related to payment security
7TrustmarksClickable trustmarks related to various aspects of your shopDetailed information about what each trustmark means (which topics are covered)
8Customer-friendly payment methodsTrusted payment methods (including country-specific methods for international customers)Payment methods with additional buyer protection; ‘buy now, pay later’
9Transparent transactionsDetailed information about payment status; accurate tax information and fees during checkout for international ordersFAQ pages; accept discount codes early in the checkout process; make it easy to update/modify items in the shopping cart
10Considerate marketingAn advertising strategy based on quality, not quantityCarefully timed newsletters

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