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Relationships Are Built on Trust

Chapter 19 by Dennis Hammer

Let’s get something straight: You are not Amazon.

When someone makes a purchase on Amazon, they find the item they want and blast through the checkout process without a second thought. They know they’ll get the item. They know they can return it if they don’t like it. They know their privacy and money are safe.

In other words, they know Amazon.

Why are we so comfortable with Amazon? Because we’ve used it before. We’ve had countless positive experiences with the ecommerce juggernaut. We trust Amazon to fulfill its role in a faithful and expedient manner throughout the transaction. Some people order everything through Amazon.

But you’re not Amazon.

Your website visitors won’t assume you’re safe and reliable until they’ve purchased from you. They won’t trust you because they don’t have a relationship with you. In other words, they don’t know you–yet.

“It costs five times as much to attract a new customer than to keep an existing one, so forging long-term relationships with customers is critical to any e-commerce retailer’s bottom line and future company health,” says  Eldar Sadikov, founder of Jetlore, a company assisting retailers to build customer loyalty, boost conversions, and increase revenue. “With increased e-commerce competition, retailers need differentiated experiences filled with sticky retention mechanisms to engage customers in valuable ways over time.”

Customers are inherently wary about private ecommerce stores. In some cases, shoppers choose to buy the exact same product on Amazon (even if the seller is the same!), just so they can spend their money on a platform they trust.

So, in addition to displaying good copy and images that make your customers want to buy, you must signal your trustworthiness to them if you expect them to build a relationship with you.

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Making Sales = Signaling Trust

If you don’t convince potential customers you’re trustworthy, they’ll go elsewhere. After all, no one wants to send their money to an unknown company and pray their product arrives.

So how do you build trust?

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Well… Unfettered trust takes time to build. It took Amazon a long time to build trust with its customers too, so don’t expect your customers to trust you on their first visit.

Just remember your goal: to eliminate anything that might make your would-be customer suspicious. Remember, they’re already suspicious of you, so if something doesn’t seem quite right, they’ll validate their own fears and bounce off your site.

Let’s go over some signals that make your site look untrustworthy.

No contact page or form: Customer service is already a bit of a hassle on the web, more so than walking into a brick-and-mortar store. An ecommerce store without contact information means customers can’t get ahold of you if they have a problem or a question, or if they need to request a return. This makes everyone uncomfortable.

Unsecured website: According to a recent survey, 85% of online shoppers avoid unsecured websites. They want the “S” at the end of your “HTTPS”; otherwise, they assume you won’t ensure that their payment and confidential information are kept safe. Fortunately, SSL certificates (for securing your website) are now easy to acquire.

No payment symbols or trustworthy logos: It seems silly that the mere appearance of trustworthy logos rub some of their trust off on you, but it works. Shoppers want to see that at least other organizations do business with you.

No company information: You’re not a fly-by-night scam operation that’s trying to stay anonymous. You’re a real company. There’s a real human being behind it. A well-crafted “About Us” page tells customers you’re invested in this store. (Add a photo of yourself for extra credibility points!)

No shipping information: As an ecommerce store owner, some of your products might come from China, which might mean shipping times of 4 to 6 weeks. You might be tempted to hide these details because they might send some customers to another store–but this is a mistake. A lack of shipping information makes you seem untrustworthy, and you’ll get a ton of complaints when people don’t get their products as fast as they expected.

No reviews or social proof: Shoppers want to know other people have purchased your products in the past, and that they’re happy with what they received. If your visitors can’t read reviews, they’ll assume no one’s bought the product before. (No one wants to go first.)

[highlight]Oberlo recommendation: Check out this excellent video tutorial on how to get customer product reviews that convert.[/highlight]


No terms & conditions or privacy policy: It’s true that very few people actually read these. Links to these pages are usually small and hidden in the footer (accessible, but out of the way). Regardless, a store not displaying such policies may appear like it’s hiding something.

Unknown payment gateway: Credit card fraud and identity theft are serious concerns these days. Your customers want to know their information is processed by a reputable company like PayPal, Stripe, or Square.

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Capitalize on Trust

Building trust is challenging, but it has advantages beyond today’s sale.

Customers who trust you are more likely to buy from you in the future. They’ll come straight to you if you sell another product they need, because it’s easier than taking another risk elsewhere.

Over time, you’ll become a trusted vendor in their lives, just like Amazon.

Earlier we spoke about customer lifetime value (the total revenue you can collect from a single customer), and how it’s more profitable to raise the lifetime value of your customers over any single transaction.

A trusting relationship built on honesty, transparency, and successful repeat transactions is one of the most powerful tools for increasing your customer lifetime value. Combine a trusting relationship with regular contact (email campaigns and social media posts), and you’ll gather ecommerce customers who buy from you over and over again.

next: Chapter 20

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