ECommerce: Nurturing Customer Trust in 2020

Wendy Carré
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June 12, 2020
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Read Time: 6min

Customer Trust in eCommerce in the Post-Quarantine Era

With social distancing still in effect in many regions of the world and lingering uncertainty over the timeline of a return to ‘normal,’ brands everywhere are banking on innovation to ensure business continuity.

The coronavirus crisis has forced teams to rethink decades of marketing best practices and forced brands to shift their focus to what really matters to customers today: trust.

From supply chain issues to new health & safety measures via delivery delays — brands have faced significant challenges over the past few months.

Today we will look at how Covid-19 has brought the issue of customer confidence to the forefront, how teams have had to adjust (sometimes in a matter of hours), and how customer trust is more crucial to businesses today than it has ever been.

How customer trust became top priority in less than 48 hours

Customer trust: from important…

You may not even notice them at this point, but they are everywhere.

Whether you’re ordering a new set of headphones on Amazon, a blender at BestBuy or a repeat order of cat food on PetSmart, reassurance elements are peppered throughout the customer journey.

In marketing lingo, reassurance refers to everything a business does to convince a prospect or client that their purchase is risk-free and that trusting their brand is a safe bet.

Secure HTTPS connection, customer reviews on the homepage, post-purchase guarantees — reassurance is present at every step of the user journey.

And the stakes are high.

Competition has never been so great… and neither have customer expectations. Customers today want to know that their transactions are secure and exactly what you plan to do with their personal data.

 … to make or break

And then came the Covid-19 crisis, a period we are still navigating, and during which our need for transparency and guarantees has never been so concrete and important.

Remote work, furloughs, layoffs, the adjustment of distribution operations, delivery delays —many businesses have had to rethink their entire supply chain in a matter of hours or days.

Here are some examples of measures put in place by brands to adjust their services to these new challenges:

  • Temporary extension of return timeframes to 30 days after store re-openings for Zara:

  • Free delivery until store reopenings for Topshop:

  • Dedicated shopping hours for the elderly and most-at-risk at Tesco:

  • Contactless delivery for food delivery service JustEat:

  • Contactless pickup within 48 hours and CTA to download travel permit for French DIY store Castorama:

These are just a few examples of some of the measures implemented overnight by brands across the globe. And as businesses set together the new standards of customer-centricity, it will be interesting to see which of these services and changes are here to stay.

In uncertain times, a lack of clarity in the visitor journey and insufficient guarantees are a surefire way to lose customers.

Customer trust: why doing the minimum is no longer enough

There are two types of elements brands use on their site/app to build customer trust:

  • Basic reassurance elements that are today absolutely essential to any eCommerce platform,
  • Slightly more advanced reassurance elements that today are key differentiators for brands wanting to stay ahead of the competition.

A – Basic reassurance elements to build up customer trust

You can safely assume that your competitors already have many of these in place. Implementing these on your site is no longer an option, but a question of survival:

  • Show the customer service number prominently on your site,
  • Make customers know that you provide secure online payments,
  • Make sure all payment options are clearly visible,
  • Be transparent and clear about you delivery costs,
  • Make it easy to consult the exchanges and returns policy,
  • Be transparent about the handling of personal data at checkout,
  • Showcase customer reviews and feedback,
  • Make sure you have rock-solid About Us and Terms & Conditions pages

Of course, don’t forget to adapt all of the above to the mobile experience by displaying only essential elements, adding touch to your site to make calls easier etc

B – Advanced reassurance elements to build up customer trust

Great — you’ve checked all those boxes. We have good news and bad news for you.

Bad news: having all of the above is no longer enough, especially not during these unprecedented times.

Good news: there are three innovative and creative methods to increase customer trust on your digital properties.

Not all of them will be relevant to your activity or audience. Up to you to figure out which will work, depending on your resources and positioning.

Method n°1: reassure visitors through content

While almost 4 billion people quarantining at the same time, the demand for rich, interactive content has never been higher.

No need to drown visitors in ads — instead, help them stay informed and entertained, now and going forward.

Here are some ideas of things you can do to establish customer trust through content:

  • Feature an FAQ based on your observations and common visitor queries
  • Create exhaustive product descriptions, enhanced with photos and video tutorials
  • Offer free, informative content (for example, free Coronavirus news coverage in The New Yorker)
  • Leverage your expertise to offer advice and tutorials (for example, The North Face tutorials)

Method n°2: build customer trust through communication

Just because you are separated from them by two screens doesn’t mean you can’t offer your visitors a human experience.

Here are some ways to engage your clients and prospects through communication:

  • Include a chat feature so your customers can ask questions directly during a certain timeframe
  • Offer an online feedback questionnaire to get better acquainted with their needs and expectations
  • Collect customer reviews and feedback — showcase positive reviews and address customer concerns
  • Offer free advice sessions (for example, Slack’s remote working consultations)

Method n°3: leverage technology to build customer trust

When it is used correctly, technology can work wonders for eCommerce brands.

Here are several innovative solutions that add real value for customers from the comfort of their sofa:

  • Implement web push notifications on your site to offer relevant content to users during their visit
  • Leverage VR for virtual try-on
  • Reduce disappointment and bounces by managing your supply chain smartly (display stock, receive a notification when an item is back in stock, substitutions, etc…)

Better UX FOR ALL

While it is essential to ensure a seamless journey for all your visitors, you also need to make sure the experience speaks to each and every one of them.

Start by making sure your experience is mobile-friendly, and then customize it to make it more personal.

A – Mobile is king

With mobile now driving the lion’s share of digital traffic since 2018, designing experiences with a mobile-first mindset is no longer optional.

We’ve already spoken at length about m-commerce and its unique characteristics, but here are 4 key things to keep in mind:

  • Load time: 53% of visitors will exit your site if the load time is longer than 3 seconds. Improve website speed, optimize caches, shrink image size etc
  • Internal search: it is crucial that your visitors find what they are looking for in just a few clicks. Make sure the results are relevant, the auto-complete is optimized and the search bar is sticky.
  • Landing pages: one word: consistency. Each of your landing pages needs to be a perfect extension of the messages and expectations set by your ads and campaigns.
  • Checkout: do everything you can to optimize what is for many people the most annoying part of the shopping journey. Guest checkout, multiple payment options, Paypal, there are many things you can do to improve your checkout flow.

B – Personalization: the devil is in the details

It’s not the first time we’ve mentioned this but in an era of hyperconnectivity and information saturation, personalization is key!

The good news is that today, customization is within every team’s reach:

  • Offer similar products or complimentary products
  • Use geolocation to display nearest store availability
  • Make reordering easy
  • Fine-tune segments to personalize specific sections of your site

Know your audience

Knowing your target audience is of course key to offering the right product, at the right time, and to the right customer.

But while basing this understanding on the behavior of the people who have already visited your site is key, don’t forget to cater to first-time visitors, too!

According to our 2020 Benchmark data, 55% of visitors are new to your site.

During the quarantine, these numbers have surged as industries like online grocery, health or fashion acquired new audiences more used to shopping offline.

A survey of 1115 French consumers carried out by Forrester between April 10 and 15 found that 19% of digital grocery customers were buying food online for the first time ever, and 10% of consumers had never paid for anythign online before. Une étude de Forrester

Nurturing customer trust is even more important when it comes to these customers, who are primarily offline shoppers in ‘normal’ times.

 Up to you to make sure your site is trustworthy, and resembles the physical stores your audience is used to interacting with.

Up to you how you make that happen but chances are, making digital more human is the key to success 😉

 

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Author

Wendy Carré

Wendy is passionate about creating content and all things marketing. She works in Contentsquare’s Paris office.