10 Ways Online Retailers Can Build Trust With Customers


by Graham Charlton

It’s essential that customers feel secure when they enter their card details on your site. Here are ten ways to build trust with your customers.

It takes a lot of effort to convince consumers to trust your website, but it’s essential that customers feel secure when they enter their card details.

There are a number of ways to make your site more trustworthy. Some of are more important for newer e-commerce sites, while others still apply to more established brands.

Here are ten ways to convince your customers that they’re safe shopping on your site.

1. Security Logos and Site Seals

This is perhaps the most obvious method, and it does reassure shoppers unfamiliar with your site that they can enter their card details with confidence.

Trustmarks or site seals come in many forms and reassure customers about various aspects of sites security.


The logos shown above are a mixture of trust seals, which are company certifications, and security (SSL) seals like Norton, which are an indication of the technical security of the site.

For the consumer, recognition of the brand seems to be more important than what the seals actually denote.

A Baymard study asked consumers which of the seals gave them the best sense of trust. Norton and McAfee, those brands famous for anti-virus software, won out.


I think that logos are perhaps less important than they used to be in the early days of e-commerce, as people are generally more comfortable shopping online.

There is an argument against their use which suggests that raising the topic of security, even with the purpose of reassuring customers, could have a negative effect.

However, they can still work. There’s a strong argument for new sites to use them as a shortcut to establishing trust.

Also, test what works and what doesn’t before you decide to remove any seals.

2. Social Proof

Social proof is perhaps as effective as any other method used to gain a users’ trust.

I can quote lots of different sources that underline the importance of reviews, but I think their importance is widely understood.

While product reviews will help to push shoppers towards buying a particular product, they won’t tell users anything about the trustworthiness of the site.

For this, services such as Google’s Trusted Stores scheme provide an average user rating and essentially tell the customer that people have bought from the site before and would recommend it.


3. Site Design

The look and feel of a website helps to persuade users that it is trustworthy.

It’s a subjective thing, but users will gain an instant impression when they arrive at a site.

If it looks like this, then the Back button is a likely option for visitors:


But, if it looks organized and professional, like Nordstrom’s page, then users immediately have a better impression.


4. User Experience (UX)

In addition to an appealing design, a site needs to be usable. This is too big a topic to tackle in detail here, but basically it should work as users expect it to.

Put simply, the journey from arrival on the site to the final payment stage should be as frictionless as possible.

Anything that adds more work for users to do makes it less likely that they’ll make a purchase.

For example, Banana Republic hits users with a pop-up asking them to provide feedback on their shopping experience.

It’s intrusive and adds extra work in forcing them to click the ‘x’ before they can continue shopping. Additionally, it’s ridiculous to ask shoppers for feedback as soon as they arrive on the site.


Navigation should be easy, and sites shouldn’t require users to make too much effort to add items to their shopping carts or complete checkout forms.

5. Site Performance

As well as UX, site performance is vital to engender trust with users. When sites don’t work as they should, potential customers lose confidence.

There are two main areas to look at:

  • Site speed. If a site is noticeably slow, not only will that make it more annoying to use, but it may also plant seeds of doubt about the general reliability of the site.

    Use tools like Google’s Page Speed Insights to check. Even the established sites can find room for improvement here.


  • Error avoidance. Errors and bugs, especially within checkout, can be fatal for transactions. If the site does not work properly, that tells customers that their payment may not be secure.

6. Clear Contact Details

Contact options reassure shoppers that, if there is a problem with their order, they can get in touch easily.

Here, Autoplicity.com displays a phone number prominently during checkout to provide reassurance:


7. Good Checkout Design

The checkout process is the crucial point where trust becomes all important. Even if customers have had a great experience from entering the site to selecting items to buy, problems at checkout can still deter them from a purchase.

Checkouts should be well designed. Steps required to complete a purchase should be clear, and the risk of user errors in form completion should be minimized.

Bellroy’s checkout design is clean with steps clearly laid out. It offers assurances about delivery, warranty, and the security of payments. Also, note the absence of a third-party seal.


8. Shipping

Problems with fulfillment of orders can undermine the great shopping experience you’ve provided for customers. They won’t remember the smooth website when they think of shopping again – they’ll remember that you failed to ship their orders on time.

Customers will judge you on shipping performance, whether or not issues may be down to a third-party courier. It also has knock-on effects on customer reviews and word-of-mouth recommendations.

The key here is to manage customer expectations on shipping, and ensure that you can deliver what you promise.

9. Before People Arrive at a Website

People are likely to see reviews before they even reach a website, especially for local searches.

Review scores are shown and are likely to have an impact when a customer decides which site to click on. Here, we can see that Resource Furniture has the edge with its average score of 4.9.


10. Customer Service

Before and after sales, customer service can make a big difference. If they need reassurance, providing assistance over the phone or via channels like live-chat can help to push customers towards a purchase.

Even if there are issues with delivery or faulty goods, quality customer service and prompt resolution of issues can turn the situation around. (See these examples from Zappos).

The flipside is that bad customer service can be a real issue. This can deter customers from shopping again, and they will probably advise friends and family to do the same.

A reputation for poor service destroys trust in a site and takes a lot of effort to turn around.

In Summary

Building up trust in customers requires a lot of work, and it is very easy to lose it.

Pay attention to detail such as checking for errors and optimizing site speed, but a commitment to excellent customer experience is essential for creating and maintaining trust.