Although eCommerce is seeing exponential growth, users are becoming careful when making purchases online. With so many helpful guides available, people can determine very quickly, often within a split second, whether a website is authentic or not. So, what can you do to provide customers with peace of mind?
In this article we've identified the 6 factors that can help eCommerce websites demonstrate their legitimacy online.
1. Real Reviews from Real People
A great way to establish that you are running a legitimate business with great products is to ask your customers for reviews. Although this may be hard to believe, humans tend to trust each other and believe it when others say that a certain product is great. In fact, it's better to feature reviews of other people on your website than slick marketing copy. According to a great infographic from PeopleClaim, after search, ratings and reviews are the second most important site feature and 71% of customers agree that reviews make them more comfortable that they are buying the right product.
In the age of social media, it's quite important that reviews are validated; so, it's a good idea to link it to the reviewers Twitter or Facebook profiles. A tweet or post from a Twitter or Facebook fan will lend credibility to your brand, more than an anonymous post ever could.
For example, marketing software company Marketo features reviews of its products from numerous social media channels. Even if you don't trust one of the channels, there's enough here to convince you that Marketo has done good work.
Marketo's socially validated reviews.
It's also important to ensure the review you obtain contains as much information of the reviewer as possible (even if it isn't "social" information).
Accounting software Xero takes the concept of customer reviews a step further by providing beautiful photos of its customers together with a quote about why they used Xero. They testimonial page itself includes videos, quotes, client names, industry, and a full case study.
Enhanced customer reviews and testimonials from Xero.
Despite all the positives, reviews can and will often be bad. It doesn't matter if a small minority of your customers don't like your products. What matters is how you handle these customers. Don't ignore their comments or feedback, provide positive assurances, and you may even turn an angry customer into a loyal one.
2. Celebrity Endorsements
Similarly, you can also request famous influencers to write a few words about your product. If a potential visitor sees a review of your product from a celebrity, they will immediately associate your product with a trusted face.
Skin care brand Proactiv has a page dedicated to celebrity endorsements. Although you may feel as though the testimonials on this page are paid for (and they probably were), these are still famous people who are willing to entrust an important asset (their skin) to Proactiv.
Celebrity endorsements featured on Proactiv's homepage.
3. Press Mentions
Being recognized by your customers is great for validation, but it's also useful to highlight any media coverage you get. Simply putting logos of the websites that have featured you is an effective way of telling visitors that your product has been reviewed by professionals.
Tictail does a great job of this by providing small images to all the blogs and newspapers it has been featured in, as well as picking out choice quotes.
Reviews from professional blogs and newspapers are highlighted on Tictail's homepage.
4. Social Engagement
Since the prevalence of social media, nothing is more powerful for a brand than an army of vocal followers.
Facebook's "Facepile" plugin is an aesthetically pleasing way of showing all your product's fans.
Facepile on TechCrunch.
The "faces" on the plugin aren't chosen at random; if the visitor is logged into their Facebook account, the faces are usually of their friends. A familiar face can go a long way in providing legitimacy on a website.
The number of Facebook fans or Twitter followers you have should not be the only barometer of your brand's success, but it offers visitors an unbiased, quantitative metric as to the authenticity of your site. If you only have a few hundred followers it could be that your brand is new or not enough people care about it. In contrast, if you have thousands of followers it's clear that a lot of people find your products useful.
For example, Bicycle retailers Le Coq Sportif, prominently display their Facebook and Twitter feeds on their blog. This tells a potential visitors that they care about their community and vice versa.
Le Coq Sportif prominently displays their Facebook and Twitter feeds and followers.
5. Putting a Face to your Brand
Highlighting the different people in your team is important in building trust. If your employees are using social media and have their own personal web presence it will add legitimacy to your website. It's also going to make it highly unlikely that such a user is a scam artist.
Displaying the team members in a prominent manner also demonstrates that the company is being transparent. In contrast, scammers will usually obscure their identity, hiding behind layers of anonymity.
Web design and Drupal experts Chromatic have a beautifully designed "about us" page, featuring photos of the team, a short bio, and links to social media profiles. It's hard to imagine this website being run by a group of scammers.
Chromatic puts a face to their brand.
6. Social Proofing your Products
Social proofing is an important concept in both offline and online retail. If a potential customer is shown how others have contributed, they will be provided with a cue on how to act. In offline retail, store owners may suggest that their stock is almost sold out, indicating popularity for a particular item. Similarly, in an online context, eCommerce websites can use tactics to point potential customers in the direction of popular products.
For example, Book Depository has a great live feed on Google Maps which shows people around the world placing orders for books. Not only does it demonstrate Book Depository's global presenece, it shows the popularity of the service around the world. Again they are using their community to demonstrate their value.
Book Depository's live Google Maps feed.
If you are a real human being selling great products it's unlikely someone will mistake your site for a scam. However, it's a good idea to use the tips in this guide to give your store that extra edge in authenticity.
How do you convince your shoppers to buy from you?