12 trust signals for your e-commerce website
With the Covid crisis and resulting lockdowns, digital transformation has become a central topic for many businesses. For example, in the US, according to the Census bureau, in 2021 the e-commerce sector grew 14.2 compared to the previous year. With total e-commerce sales estimated at $870.8 billion in 2021, e-commerce’s success is the envy of all.
For a large number of businesses and individuals, the stakes of standing out from the competition are high. So how can you get a large number of visitors and keep them on your website so that they buy your products?
These 12 trust signals that reassure visitors, true partners of your e-commerce site, will help your site to establish trust with your visitors:
- An up-to-date website
- An accessible and dynamic shopping cart
- An “About” or “Who we are” page
- A comprehensive contact page
- Easily accessible and readable return policy and reimbursement conditions
- Easily accessible legal notices and general sales conditions
- A site header that simplifies navigation
- Trustmarks in the pre-footer
- Detailed payment information
- Transparency about the use of personal data
- Sharing customer reviews and opinions
- Social media presence
The basic e-commerce rules of thumb
Let’s begin at the beginning: e-commerce is great but it’s also demanding. With the increase in e-commerce sites in our daily lives, internet users have developed certain habits that have become the golden rules of e-commerce. As a matter of fact, this competition has led to numerous fraudulent websites cropping up with the unique goal of scamming online buyers.
Less trusting than ever, internet users in 2022 are more and more mercurial and only give websites a websites a few minutes to gain their trust, without which they’ll quickly move on. That’s why it’s essential to reassure your visitors by providing them a clear, legible website, with the elements they are used to finding on a big name e-commerce website. If you don’t manage to do that, your visitors will move on without making a purchase.
Trust signals that reassure e-commerce website visitors
Trust signals that you can implement to improve your website’s trustworthiness can serve as website elements that reassure e-commerce website visitors. These aspects of your website for securing a purchase.
Maybe without even being aware of it, you probably rely on these elements yourself to verify the reliability of e-commerce websites. A site with fluid navigation, where you can easily find the general conditions or return policy, an accessible shopping cart, and a legible website—there are so many criteria that our brains unconsciously reviews before checking out.
For the first time, here are the ones you can’t miss.
1. An up-to-date website
Once you have completed the steps required for creating an e-commerce website, regularly updating your e-commerce website is undeniably the fundamental aspect of signaling the reliability of your e-commerce website. A website that is not up to date is a sign of an inactive website, which automatically attracts suspicion of fraud and theft through lax website security practices.
Outside of modifying all your website pages, be sure to prioritize above all implementing promotions and flash sales linked to key periods. In addition to increasing your sales, you’ll earn internet users’ trust.
Visual content is also very widely appreciated by internet users and so should be preferred when possible. You don’t need to spend a fortune on graphic design software, though, since many free alternatives to Photoshop now exist that enable you to create professional visuals in just a few clicks. We recommend paying special attention to spelling, an additional proof of a serious e-commerce website.
2. An accessible and dynamic shopping cart
A second element that serves to build trust in your e-commerce website is your website’s shopping cart. Nothing extraordinary there. But have you ever thought about what your reaction would be if, instead of finding the shopping cart in the upper-right corner of the page, it was in the upper-left instead? Disturbing isn’t it? Generally speaking, it’s recommended that you stick to the norms and conventions of the internet used by 80% of all websites: for example—logo in the upper-left, shopping cart in the upper-right, and navigation menu across the top.
The first observation then, is that to follow conventions and to avoid sowing doubt in the minds of your visitors, your shopping cart should be in the upper-right corner of your e-commerce website.
This has even more impact if it’s dynamic, that is, if the number of items can be displayed using a badge (usually red or orange) and that updates as you add or remove items.
Finally, a potential buyer expects a shopping cart to be clear and easily modified. In your shopping cart, then, you should display:
- the quantity of each item (and size if applicable)
- the price of each item
- the total number of items
- the delivery cost (if applicable)
- the total without taxes
- the total with all taxes and fees
- accepted payment methods
- a field for entering any promo codes
And the cherry on top for an optimal experience: to be able to see a summary of your shopping cart on the righthand side thanks to a “hamburger menu.” Internet users can view their entire order at a glance and can make modifications.
3. An “About” or “Who we are” page
When you first visit an e-commerce site that you’re not familiar with, what’s your first reflex? It’s likely that you’ll want to know more about the business. And that’s what the “About us” page is there for.
Not frequently visited on popular brands’ websites, this page plays a major role for more niche companies. This is your chance to present your business, to describe precisely your mission, your promise to your customers, and the values that motivate you. The goal is to demonstrate your expertise, improve your credibility, and encourage prospective customers to choose you as opposed to a competitor.
You should write this page carefully, since it’s often a decisive factor in triggering a purchase. Adding a direct link to your contact page is a welcome addition to this page to help reassure a prospective customer that your contact information is readily available if needed.
4. A comprehensive contact page
Unsurprisingly, the contact page is one of the most essential trust signals on your e-commerce site. An internet user will want to verify that your address is available on the website and ensure that they will be able to contact you if there’s a problem. But they could also want to contact you in advance of buying about the specifics or availability of an item you’re selling.
At the bare minimum, this page should contain:
- The physical address associated with the e-commerce business
- A contact email address
If your organization allows it, adding a phone number and a chat are additional trust signals that can reassure internet users, who value being able to reach you quickly.
Don’t forget to include the availability times when you can be reached in order to limit frustation related to a too-long response time.
5. Easily accessible and readable return policy and reimbursement conditions
With a contact page, an internet user will be reassured since they’ll know that you are available to be contacted. However, your goal should be that they don’t actually need to contact you.
Since most contacts are related to exchanging/returning a product or requesting a reimbursement, the page describing your return and reimbursement policy should have all the necessary information on these questions. Be as detailed as possible: the clarity of information will be a measure of confidence that a visitor will have in your e-commerce site.
Feel free to spell out the specific steps needed so that you can avoid delays associated with an exchange, a return, or a reimbursement. An FAQ is the ideal format for this type of page, since it enables you to handle a maximum of situations, all while remaining easily readable by internet users.
6. Easily accessible legal notices and general sales conditions
The last page completing the trust signals needed to reassure your users is the page that includes the legal notices and the terms and conditions.
Paradoxically, this page (boring, we agree) is generally not very popular among internet users, but it’s essential to avoiding your business appearing suspect and hence turning away potential buyers. However, even if it’s not commonly visited, the quality and veracity of its content is essential since this information may be used in the case of a legal conflict.
Especially since online sales are regulated by law.
- precontractual information must be communicated “legibly and comprehensively.”
- the e-commerce identity should enable a consumer to keep and reproduce the terms and conditions of sale (in other words, the document should be downloadable and printable).
- the terms and conditions should be made directly available to a buyer before concluding the contract
A site that does not meet this legal requirement won’t have much chance at reassuring a potential purchaser. Just like the page with your return policy, the conventional place for accessing this page is in the footer of an e-commerce website (the banner at the bottom of the page).
Advanced practices for an optimized e-commerce website
After having looked at the essentials for getting started, which are for the most part fairly simple to implement, here are a few additional tips that can really make the difference.
7. A website header that simplifies site navigation
The header of a site is the part at the top of each of the pages of your website, and as a result the first that most people see. The header is generally fixed at the top of the page and sometimes follows the user as they scroll through the page, so that it’s always available.
In other words, the header is the menu of a website. For an e-commerce site, it more or less consists of summarizing your product catalog in a few broad categories. Therefore, it’s essential that it’s clear so that the visitor can:
- get an idea of the breadth of your catalog at a glance
- navigate to the item of their choice without losing time
Thinking about building your navigation menu should be one of your central priorities, with the goal of creating an optimal user experience. The menu of an e-commerce site should be considered effective when a website visitor can find an item they’re looking for in 2 to 3 pages. This might seem ambitious, but managing to achieve this objective will bear fruit in terms of your conversion rates.
8. Trustmarks in the pre-footer
The pre-footer is also an area that plays a key role in reassuring an e-commerce website’s visitors. Located just before the banner along the bottom of a page (the footer), this is the part of the page that, like a header, shows all the pages on your website.
It’s in this part of the page that website visitors are used to finding a summary of a brand’s commitments and promises. Thae makes it the ideal place to highlight:
- product origins
- product certifications
- accepted payment methods
- possibly free delivery
- delivery area and times
- customer service
Generally you should include six of these, so be sure to take the time to carefully choose which ones since they could make the difference between you and your competitor.
9. Detailed payment information
Last step: payment. Since fraud is still very common, the payment step is where most concerns come in and when potential buyers will be the most vigilant.
To reassure them, make sure to mention all the payment methods you accept. The more widely known alternatives you provide, the more trust you’ll gain with a buyer. Visa, Mastercard, and other credit cards are the bare minimum. But allowing payment via Paypal means also providing instant payment methods that facilitate transactions (no need to interrupt the buying process by adding credit card informaitno) and that provides a mark of trust. It’s the ideal option for you and for your customer!
Don’t forget to also indicate that the payment and the banking information are 100% secure. It may seem like obvious information but it can raise suspicion if not mentioned.
10 Transparency about the use of personal data
The use of personal data is one of the latest preoccupations of internet users tired of being sollicited by email or telephone. By letting users know how their personal data will be collected as they navigate, they will be reassured of your trustworthiness.
The princple of minimization recommended by CNIL (the French “National Commission on Informatics and Liberty”) provides that personal data should be adequate, pertinent, and limited to what is necessary with regards to the purposes for which the data is being processed.
This is especially the case since, like the legal information page and the terms and conditions, not many people visit the personal data policy page, but many will be suspicious of e-commerce websites failing to include it.
11. Sharing customer reviews and opinions
A common reflex before making an online purchase is to check the opinions of other customers. This practice is one of many important trust signals that reassure visitors to e-commerce websites. You should take advantage of this by sharing opinions and customer testimonials about your products and services.
Usually this type of review comes in the form of a 1–5 rating accompanied by a short blurb writtn by a customer. This can serve to reassure a prospective buyer of the quality of the products and the smoothness of the customer experience to remove all obstacles to purchase.
It’s ideal to use dedicated customer opinion options such as:
- Trustpilot (a free version is available)
- Verified reviews
Well most of these types of services require a subscription, these solutions can help you save precious time and will bring credibility to your e-commerce website. Saying that your products are good is expected, but if your customers say it for you, it’s that much more believable.
12. Social media presence
Over time, social media have become an important way to verify a company on the internet. Since you have an e-commerce website, internet users will ÷÷expect to be able to find you on popular social networks like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
Your presence on social media is another showcase for your e-commerce business. At the same time, be aware that being on social media requires that you publish regularly, otherwise a visitor might wonder about how responsive and reliable your brand is.
Social media can also represent new communication channels for your customer service, which also means additional work. We recommend you take all of these factors into account before jumping in to your social media presence.
In summary, the trustworthiness and reliability of an e-commerce site is communicated by several different trust signals. There are some trust signals that are absolutely necessary but can be easily implemented, especially with comprehensive e-commerce solutions like Prestashop that enable you to change your site as you see fit.
To help you along with your project, Gandi offers a turnkey Prestashop solution with automatic installation. Launch your e-commerce site in 10 minutes or less, starting at $5.00 per month!
Now it’s up to you!