Huge online retailers like Amazon have the benefit of customer trust. When I check out at Amazon, I don’t typically question whether or not my purchase is protected, and I know that hundreds of thousands of customers just like me use Amazon to order almost anything and everything.

As an independent eCommerce retailer, you won’t get the benefit of the doubt that large sites get, and you’ll need to build customer trust from the ground up. Improved trust yields increased buying comfort and conversions, and there are several strategies you can use to improve trust on your eCommerce site.

Each of this is definitely worth split testing on your site to see how conversions are affected. If you do run these test, I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

1. Use an SSL Certificate

Even if your payment gateway integration does not require you to use an SSL certificate (such as PayPal Standard), you should invest in one for your site to build customer trust. Many customers have been trained to look for the “little green lock” in the address bar when entering sensitive payment details, and they won’t excuse the lack of security reassurance just because you’re sending them off site for payment details. In fact, they won’t even know this until reaching checkout, and should be reassured before reaching this page.

Sell with WordPress | HTTPS SSL Certificates

Showing customers that your site is secure increases comfort and confidence in purchasing.

If you’re not sure what kind of SSL certificate to purchase, we have an overview of different types available. My preferred source of inexpensive SSL certificates is NameCheap — you can pick up a Comodo domain validated SSL certificate for as little as $9 per year (which includes a free site seal). The small investment is completely worth it to improve trust on your site.

2. Include Payment and Shipping Logos

When you display logos from payment or shipping providers on your site, you show customers that you use popular methods they’re comfortable with and associate with secure purchasing.

Available shipping method logos can be added to your site manually, such as in your footer or on your cart page. You can display the methods you use so customers know who will be delivering their packages and this eliminates uncertainty about shipping.

Displaying card icons can help increase conversions on your checkout process, and they’re a tip recommended by KISSmetrics to optimize your checkout (tip #3). You also borrow the trust associated with these large brands.

Most popular platforms, such as WooCommerce, EDD, and WP eCommerce, will display accepted payment icons on the checkout page or with particular payment method (as do many extensions or add-ons for these platforms). However, you can also display these accepted payment methods elsewhere on your site, such as in your footer.

Even if your eCommerce plugin does not display card icons, you can add them manually (or enlist the help of a developer to do so). Here are some free payment icons from Shopify that can help out. There may also be plugins that will do this for you. For example, here’s a free WooCommerce plugin to add payment methods via shortcode or widget.

Here’s an example I’ve added to my theme’s footer area with this plugin:

build trust display payment method logos

Display Accepted Payment Method Logos

Easy Digital Downloads also has accepted payment methods built in that you can enable in your settings and display at checkout:

EDD Payment methods

Adding EDD Payment methods

You can make these available to use elsewhere on your site with a custom snippet (added via plugin or your functions.php):

// Creates the [edd_payment_icons] to output the accepted payment methods from EDD settings
function show_edd_payment_icons() {

    ob_start();
    edd_show_payment_icons();
    return ob_get_clean();
}
add_shortcode( 'edd_payment_icons', 'show_edd_payment_icons' );


// Add this as well to use the shortcode in a text widget
add_filter( 'widget_text', 'do_shortcode' );

This code snippet adds a [edd_payment_icons] shortcode to display these core payment icons on your site. The last part of the snippet will even let you add them to text widgets.

Display EDD payment methods

Payment Icons Shortcode (text widget used)

You can add custom icons easily to this payment icon display as well.

3. Display Security Seals

When you purchase an SSL certificate, you’ll also typically gain access to security seals. These are icons that you’ll have permission to add to your site to build customer trust in your checkout process (be sure you have permission to use them first!). They may look something like this:

comodo-seal

Using trust seals or “lock” icons can help improve conversion rates at checkout since they show that your site is secure. You may already have security seals if you’re in the Accredited Better Business Bureau directory, as you can use the BBB trust seal.

You can also get security seals from your payment processor. Processors like Authorize.net have “Verified merchant” seals available to increase your credibility and build customer trust.

Purchasing security seals is also possible via services like Symantec / Norton (you can get Safe Site certified) or McAfee Secure, though these are typically more expensive and can involve a security audit (which can be valuable in itself!). However, Norton and McAfee seals are most trusted in comparison to other seals.

4. Display Total Number of Orders Shipped

Social proof is a useful motivator for eCommerce stores, and it can be used to build customer trust as well. When you show that other customers have purchased from your site, new customers assume that your site or products are safe and buying confidence increases.

KISSmetrics suggests using social proof to build trust, such as displaying the number of orders placed on your site or the number of customers who have completed a purchase. You can easily show this on your homepage or in a widget by adding text like, “over 12,000 orders processed!” You can update the text monthly to ensure it’s accurate.

Build Trust eCommerce: Social proof

Social Proof: Order Count

If you’d like to display an exact order count, here’s a free plugin that can do so with WooCommerce, and generates a shortcode to insert the exact order count.

If you’ve been mentioned in a news outlet or on a prominent site, use the trust this information source has to build your own. For example, if you’ve been quoted in a publication, show that quote. If a news outlet has written about you or one of your products, show that you’ve been featured in this news site.

You shouldn’t be dishonest about this (for example, including a media badge when you’ve only been mentioned in the comments section or something), but it’s a great way to borrow trust from reputable sources.

6. Use Reviews or Testimonials

Product reviews and testimonials are another great way to use social proof to your advantage. Reviews show customers they’re not the first one to the party; other customers have purchased your products and enjoyed using them. We’ve already written about the importance of reviews if you’d like to read more, as 7 out of 10 customers read them before purchasing.

This is another KISSmetrics-recommended strategy (tip #20), as reviews can build purchasing confidence.

As an added bonus, reviews and testimonials can help improve SEO, as customers tend to use terms that other prospective customers will search for and review can optimize product pages for long tail keywords.

Build Customer Trust via Security and Social Proof

Each of these tips on building customer trust boils down to 3 common themes: improve (and show!) security indicators, borrow trust, or use social proof. Security indicators, such as SSL certificates or trust seals, make customers more comfortable about sharing personal and payment details, removing a very large barrier to purchase.

Borrowing trust can come in the form of security seals, payment icons, shipment logos, or media quotes / “As featured in” sections. By associating yourself with trusted brands, you in turn gain trust and credibility.

Social proof helps to show that other customers successfully place orders in your store, and increases buying confidence as well. (It’s basically peer pressure online.) If you’d like to read more about social proof, I’d recommend this article from Syed Balkhi or these tips from KISSmetrics.

Regardless of which strategies you choose to build customer trust, always test their effect on your store, as no strategy is guaranteed to work for your particular niche, ideal customer, or product.


Cover Photo Credit: Lars Plougmann (CC BY-SA 2.0 license)

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Posted by Beka Rice

Beka Rice manages the direction of Sell with WP content and writes or edits most of our articles to share her interests in eCommerce. Or she just writes as an excuse to spend more time jamming out to anything from The Clash to Lady Gaga. Who knows.