Online Trust

Conveying Trustworthiness in E-Commerce

Building trust in e-commerce is essential for any online retailer. We cover three important attributes of online trust that you absolutely must address if you want your e-commerce business to do well.

If you've launched an ecommerce site but your e-business isn't doing as well as you hoped, it could be that prospective customers simply don't trust you.

Conveying Trustworthiness in E Commerce

When it comes time to enter personal information or complete a business transaction on the Internet, most people hesitate, and understandably so. They've read about credit card fraud, identity theft, spoofing, hacking, phishing and other abuses.

It should come as no surprise that many e-shoppers are still concerned about security and privacy issues.

As such, you've got to convince them that you are trustworthy in three specific areas: security, privacy and reliability.

Here are a few ways to convey trust on the Internet.

E-Commerce Security

When you are shopping on a website, how do you know that the website isn't set up by somebody posing as the e-merchant? How do you know that the data you enter will be protected as it flies across the Internet?

The de facto mechanism for ensuring e-commerce security is the digital certificate.

In fact, the sole goal of digital certificates is to make sure online shoppers feel secure, by authenticating the legitimacy of the certificate owner and by protecting your sensitive data.

Digital certificates are issued by a third-party certificate authority. The certificate authority will only issue a digital certificate after they have thoroughly checked out a company.

Once you get a digital certificate, you can post a logo on your website. Presumably, customers who see a digital certificate logo prominently displayed on your site will trust you considerably more than if you didn't have the digital certificate. They know that you've gone through a vetting process and that the personal data they submit to your site will be encrypted.

Privacy in E-Commerce Transactions

The second major point of trust that we discuss in this article concerns privacy.

Once the online merchant has the shopper's personal data, what will they do with it? Will they sell it to email spammers and telemarketers?

E-commerce companies can show prospective customers that they take privacy seriously by applying for a displaying a TRUSTe privacy seal.

The TRUSTe seal tells customers that the company practices good privacy policies. In order to obtain the seal, the e-commerce site must have a privacy policy that complies with TRUSTe's privacy guidelines.

E-Commerce Reliability

If you've taken care of your e-commerce security issues and assured customers that you are a trustworthy partner who will protect their privacy, what's left to prove?

The last frontier of building e-commerce trust is conveying to customers that you are a company that delivers on its promises.

Surprisingly, there are e-commerce companies out there who have digital certificates and TRUSTe seals but who completely fail the reliability test. For example, maybe they promise an order will be delivered in a few days and then they take weeks to deliver instead.

If you believe your service levels are excellent and want to convey that to customers, check out these programs.

  • BizRate (newly rebranded Shopzilla) -'s offers a free customer survey program, in which collects feedback directly from your customers as they check-out and after the date of fulfillment through follow-up e-mail surveys. If you participate and consistently get high ratings from customers, you can get a reliability certification logo from BizRate/Shopzilla that tells prospective customers that you are a good e-commerce company.
  • BBB Seals - Better Business Bureau accreditation programs identify trustworthy companies. Local BBB offices may offer web-specific seals, e.g. the BBBOnline Seal. BBB accreditation does not guarantee your customers will be satisfied with your product or service. It does, however, inform them that you have a satisfactory complaint handling records with Better Business Bureaus.
  • WebTrust - WebTrust certification is only granted after extensive examination by a licensed Certified Public Accountant (CPA), Chartered Accountant, or equivalent. CPA WebTrust has an extensive list of principles and criteria that a Web site must comply with before earning the right to post the CPA WebTrust seal.

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