In a real brick-and-mortar store, it’s easy for customers to feel confident about making a purchase. They can see and interact with items, checking their condition and reading any specification lists. They’re also able to supervise the checkout process, ensuring that credit cards are used responsibly by the clerk. And then they leave, holding both a purchase and a receipt confirming the transaction took place.
Things are very different online. There’s no human interaction on a website and no way to build a rapport. Card details are typed into a web browser before being sent through the ether to a mysterious third-party platform with a name like SecurePay or Sage. Unless it’s an immediate download, products are dispatched at an arbitrary future date, even though payment was instantly banked. It’s all very impersonal – and potentially alienating.
Since neither of those adjectives will instinctively appeal to cautious consumers, it’s vital for website owners and administrators to build trust wherever possible. And as the only visible face of many modern brands, websites are the battleground where trust is won and lost. For an ecommerce platform to have any hope of success, it needs to convey appropriate sentiments and messages – both explicitly and implicitly. Every web page and transaction stage has to guide and reassure customers through each step in the process.
Below are five critical attributes required from a secure website, if customers are to feel confident about trusting it with their hard-earned dollars:
#1. Establish a brand identity.
Use first-person terminology throughout the site, and publish an About Us page explaining the brand’s history. A ‘Who We Are’ page should include pen portraits of senior staffers, ideally below smiling photos. An FAQ ought to outline procedures for product returns and complaints, preferably written with a touch of self-deprecating humor. Send emails from named individuals rather than generic addresses such as ‘sales@’, and ensure that incoming messages are responded to in an equally personal fashion. It’s advisable to prominently list any association memberships or accreditations, ideally with logos.
#2. Incorporate SSL certificates.
Although it was technically replaced in 1999 by the newer Transport Layer Security protocol, SSL is still used to describe a securely encrypted connection between a server and a terminal. Consumers recognize the three hallmarks of SSL certificates – a green address bar, a padlock icon or an HTTPS domain. Midphase supports SSL installation via customer control panels, while SSL certificates are bundled in free with our Business hosting package.
#3. Use a legitimate ecommerce gateway.
Almost as important as offering SSL certificates, recognized ecommerce portals reassure people about submitting sensitive financial data. Delegating tax calculations and client account verification to a third party makes the retailer’s life easier, while customers are reassured by brands like PayPal or Amazon Payments. Optimized payment processing services are streamlined and reliable, accepting all major cards and dovetailing with ecommerce carts. Critically, gateways should be as robust on a 4G mobile device as on a PC or Mac connected to WiFi.
#4. Extensively beta test before publishing the site.
There’s a well-known cliché about never getting a second chance to make a first impression, and it’s particularly pertinent with ecommerce sites. If a customer transaction fails significant reputational damage will ensue. Rigorously beta test every possible transaction variant, using as many browsers and devices as possible. Do form fields display oddly on Kindles? Do Linux-powered computers process payments faster than Chromebooks, and if so, why? What happens if a customer attempts to navigate back mid-checkout to add more items, or if their connection drops as payment is sent?
#5. Choose a dependable hosting partner.
You could host a website on a stripped-down PC, connected to a high-speed fiber line and left to its own devices. However, not only is this single-server setup prone to downtime, it’s also relatively insecure. By contrast, choosing a firm like Midphase to host a website ensures military-grade security in dedicated data centers manned 24/7 by tech ninjas. Cutting-edge servers and unlimited bandwidth keep sites live around the clock, while SiteLock malware detection software repels everything from bot attacks to hackers. Few businesses survive significant data loss, and today’s consumers are very aware of security issues.
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