The first impression a person has of your website will very likely determine how long they will spend looking around it. Trust is a big issue on the internet, and it is your responsibility to make sure every concern a potential customer may have is resolved before it has a chance to even arise.
The main question to ask is – how professional does your website look? If it looks like it’s been designed by someone who has just left college, it’s time for an overhaul. Hire a professional designer to create a site for you – the money it costs will more than be paid back in the extra sales it will generate.
When you are developing your website ask yourself what would prevent you from ordering when you visit someone else’s site. Accessibility is a big issue with online markets; you need to reassure people that your business is legitimate, and the best way to do that is to ensure they can ring you if they have any questions or queries.
Make sure you include full contact details on your site, including an address that any returns or correspondence can be sent to. Avoid post office boxes at all costs; they give out the impression you are hiding behind them.
The internet takes away the need for face to face contact with your customers, which means any telephone contact is even more important to get right. Answer the phone promptly when it rings, and if any problems arise try and resolve them during the call. Good customer relations and service are priceless in any business, and the nature of the internet makes this aspect even more important.
You don’t have to speak to your customers in order to establish a relationship with them. If you regularly update your site with valuable content, your visitors will feel the visit was worthwhile and will be more likely to come back. Offer something your competitors aren’t – a new download, a free e-book and so on. All this can establish a relationship for future purchases.
Trust will also be boosted by the inclusion of reliable business logos such as Hackersafe and the BBB Online Seal. A secure shopping cart on a secure server will also reassure customers that their financial and personal details are safe when they place an order with you. Lack of confidence in the security of a site is probably the biggest cause of lost sales online.
Finally, give people free reign to send orders back and ask for a refund. This might sound like it will hurt sales, but it has the opposite effect. More people will order because they know they can get a refund if they aren’t happy. So long as your product is of top quality, the number of returns you receive will be far outweighed by the increase in orders.