Many Internet shoppers and buyers are, by nature, skeptical. They probably don’t know you. They may not know your company or the products and services you provide. And they may have had problems with online buying in the past.

It isn’t easy to build a trusting relationship quickly, even in real life, and given that the average site visitor stays on your web site for just a minute or two, you have to build trust quickly. But what can the small business owner do to establish that bond of trust in just minutes?

Add trust builders throughout the web site.

Web visitors want to know that your web site is highly secure. Any page of your web site on which visitors enter names, addresses, credit card numbers and other personal information should be “lock-down” tight.

Inform visitors, with site text, that the order page is highly secure, that you won’t sell their email addresses to spammers, and that you guarantee their satisfaction with a “money back guarantee.”

Remember, web site visitors probably don’t know you or just how trustworthy your business is, so tell them, straight out, what your business policies are.

Provide complete contact information, including the company name, address and telephone number. This should be a real trust builder. It may also generate additional sales if that toll-free telephone number can also be used to place an order after visiting your site, finding the right product or service, and comparing prices with other online vendors.

A dedicated customer service telephone line or live chat module can deliver more than additional sales. It puts first-time visitors at ease knowing that it’s easy to contact you with questions and client-care issues. Information builds trust, so provide contact information on every page of your web site. Place this information in the same place on every page so visitors don’t have to look for it. Keep it simple to demonstrate your concern for customer service and keeping your clients happy.

Add trust builders to your check-out pages. Trust builders are a “must-have” during the consumer’s check-out. The check-out sequence should provide details on site security, delivery dates, shipping costs and other information of interest to first-time consumers. Transparency can build trust.

Also, add logos to build trust. Sign up with VeriSign®, for example – a trust builder recognized by regular online buyers. Join the online Better Business Bureau® and display that organization’s logo with pride. It can demonstrate that your business is a solid corporate citizen that values customer satisfaction.

Also, sign up as a member of your local Chamber of Commerce and display the CoC logo on the home page and on the check-out page to reassure site visitors that you’re a legitimate company and that you care about your business’ reputation and customer satisfaction.

There are numerous check-out modules like osCommerce® – an open source (free) check-out module that plugs into your existing web site. Choose a check-out module that has strong support from the development community to make sure it is up-to-date. That’s what keeps buyers from abandoning their online shopping carts during the check-out process.

Add pictures of company owners and employees. It’s always nice to know there are real people behind the digital skin of your web site. Post pictures of client care representatives so visitors with questions can call your toll-free number and ask for a customer care rep by name. It adds that personal touch that’s often absent from consumer-oriented sites.

Post your own picture to show the face of the owner. Also, if you maintain a brick-and-mortar shop, display the storefront on the home page. That picture says, “we’re real,” and that builds even more trust.

Use customer testimonials. Happy buyers are glad to tell site visitors about the positive experiences they’ve had purchasing products and services from your business. Add real testimonials from real customers throughout the web site.

Many web sites use customer reviews on the home page, but you can’t be certain that site visitors will land on your home page. They may land on an interior page of your web site, depending on the search engine keywords entered into the query box.  Place testimonials throughout the web site to make sure new customers know your business delivers more than products and services. It also delivers client satisfaction.

Add a map showing the location of your business. It doesn’t cost anything, it’s great for buyers in your immediate service area, and it demonstrates that you have nothing to hide. “Here we are and here’s how to get to our store or office.” That’s a clear demonstration of your company’s trustworthiness.

When you make it easy to find you, you may see more local traffic walking through the front door of your store – prospects who have checked out your web site and liked what they saw.

Building trust online must happen quickly. The more information you provide, the more transparent your warranty and return policies, the more real your business may become in the minds of first-time site visitors.

Personalize your web site. Clarify purchase policies, warranties and guarantees, and provide assurances that your online business is a trustworthy corporate citizen. Doing these things should convert more visitors to buyers, and that’s always good for your Internet-based business’ bottom line.


The information contained herein is presented for general informational purposes only and does not constitute tax, legal or business advice.