Shopping online enables consumers to conduct exhaustive research in a search for top bargains. Ecommerce can be conducted anytime and from anywhere. Better still, the products purchased can be delivered right to the consumer’s door. Nevertheless, a significant number of consumers are fearful enough of ecommerce that they forgo all of its advantages. Let’s take a look at some of the questions these potential customers may have about your ecommerce website.
Is this business genuine?
When you shop at a physical store, you have tangible proof that it is real, that actual staff work there, and that products are available and ready for purchase. You can pay attention to factors such as the organization and cleanliness of the store, the variety of wares available, and the helpfulness of the clerks to determine if you want to spend your money there.
The same is not true for a business website. The only hints that something might not be right are bad customer reviews, a site and online checkout system that are cluttered and difficult to navigate, and a lack of transparency when it comes to policies, shipping, and other procedures.
Will my payment information be stolen?
Unless you’ve been living in an isolated hut on a Himalayan peak, you have heard about the all-too-frequent data breaches that have been hitting both large corporations and small businesses alike. Who can blame cautious consumers for wondering if making an ecommerce buy will lead to identity theft, financial loss, or worse? While cybercrime can happen to buyers in physical stores, ecommerce businesses are much more susceptible.
Will I love my purchase?
In-person shopping has one big advantage over its virtual counterpart: the ability to see, touch, and try on products before purchasing. Shoppers who have long been accustomed to individualized, one-on-one attention from a knowledgeable sales associate often wonder how the online experience can possibly compare. After all, they might be left with a box of items that turns out to be nothing like they expected.
I can’t talk to a human being.
While shopping from the comfort of home has its advantages, it can be quite impersonal. Customers may well feel isolated and wonder if the item they are viewing will turn out to be as it seems on the website. They fear that the lack of human interaction will result in a purchase that does not meet their expectations.
Returning products purchased online is a huge hassle.
Making an in-store purchase means that the consumer has the ability to judge in real time whether an item is right for them. If it’s not, they will simply move on. On the other hand, when an online transaction takes place and the merchandise is delivered to the customer’s home, they are left to either accept the items if they are happy with them, or return them to the store. Many people find the idea of sending back goods that were bought online to be too overwhelming.
How to address consumer fears of ecommerce.
Human beings are, by their very nature, averse to change. For many people, expanding their shopping habits to encompass ecommerce has proven to be a hurdle that they have a hard time overcoming. The good news is that you as the business owner can take concrete steps to help buyers overcome their trepidations.
- Design a website that is clear and credible. That means resisting the urge to display all of the latest bells and whistles. Your priority should be to provide clear information and contact details clearly, with easy navigation, and a seamless and positive checkout via your shopping cart and payment gateway. Also consider providing easy-to-follow links to your social media pages that allow customers to read reviews and testimonials about your business.
- Use all available tools to provide customers with complete information about each product you sell. Clear images shot from various angles, as well as compelling video descriptions, may not be quite as good as direct contact with your merchandise, but they can go a long way. To help customers to further understand the features of an item and to feel good about spending money on it, feature customer reviews, as well as links to popular accessories.
- Blast away the potential buyer’s feeling that they are alone out in space with no ability to interact with a human being. Prominently display your contact information, while taking pains to dedicate your time and attention (or that of a staff member) to each inquiry. If you don’t have the resources to hire excellent customer service specialists who truly can represent your brand well and provide care to your valued guests, make it a number one priority to see that all calls are returned promptly. If you have a voicemail recording, let customers know when they can expect a return call. As a backup, add a FAQ section to your site and consider using a chat bot to answer simple queries.
- Enact a clear and generous shipping and returns policy. People will be more likely to buy from your website if the returns process is hassle-free, particularly if they do not have to pay for shipping. To that end, be sure that your return policy is clear cut and well written. If possible, offer free return shipping to make resolving any issues even less daunting.
Of course, there will always be a small subset of shoppers who will remain so fearful of buying online that they will never do so. However, many consumers who love the flexibility and convenience that ecommerce offers will be far more likely to dip their feet in the water if they feel good about your business, the products you sell, and the security of your systems. Therefore, take time to stack the deck in your favor … and new e-customers are sure to follow.