Would you buy a pig in a poke? My grandmother warned me about such transactions, but I had no idea what she was talking about. Being a city boy, I’d never seen a live pig, and I had no idea what a poke was. But the proverb must have rung true because it stuck in my head and popped back out this morning.
It happened while I was reviewing recent ecommerce statistics. When I read that 70 percent of online purchases were terminated due to lack of trust [https://bit.ly/2SJrKbx], I thought “well of course; nobody buys a pig in a poke.”
I still didn’t know what that meant, so I looked it up. It seems that a “poke” is a cloth sack. Medieval farmers would put piglets into a poke to take them to market to sell. Unscrupulous sellers might put something other than a pig in the poke, so conscientious buyers would insist that the pig be removed for inspection. They weren’t foolish enough to buy a “pig in a poke.”
Today’s pokes are poorly designed ecommerce websites. There may be real value in such digital pokes, but maybe not. Some ecommerce sites fail to convince shoppers that the platform or business is trustworthy, so most shoppers abandon their carts and leave their transactions incomplete.
Four steps for building website trust
Fortunately, there are four simple measures that antique dealers can use to build trust in their ecommerce websites. These solutions are low-cost and don’t require a complete site re-design. Here they are:
1. First impressions count. I’ve read that a shopper’s first impression of your site occurs in about 50 milliseconds — literally, in the blink of an eye. Building trust quickly requires that you form an instant bond by displaying trust-building icons that shoppers are already familiar with, like trust badges from the Better Business Bureau, McAfee, VeriSign, or payment platforms like Visa or PayPal. If you’re able to offer payment options that users trust more, they’ll trust you more, too. The article “5 Trust Badges That Can Increase Your Conversion Rate” [https://bit.ly/2mKM0xm] presents some interesting statistics on why and how such badges work.
Displaying social proof is mandatory as well: Showcase your social media stats with a Facebook, Instagram, or other widget. Having a large social media following builds trust. Also feature reviews and testimonials of your business; if you have been in the newspaper recently, promote the article on an “In the News” page. My August 2013 Behind the Gavel Column “Good or bad — online reviews directly affect your customer base” lists six action items you can employ to boost your reviews [https://bit.ly/2UnJAlU].
2. Show customers who you are. Brag about how long you’ve been in business (or that you’re “new and unique”). List your physical address and contact information (yes, phone number, too). Customers who are unsure about your brand may reach out to you through several different methods, including your site’s contact form, email, and social media profiles. They may want to know about return policies, shipping dates, or other product information. Make yourself available for these customer inquiries.
If you’re using Google My Business your address, phone number, and email appear in search results already (if you’re not using this free service, you’re missing a powerful promotional tool). Knowing that there is a physical location that they can visit if there’s a problem is a compelling trust-builder. Also, local consumers who prefer to shop online and pick up in-store need your physical details.
Throughout your site, share lots of photos of you, your store, and your employees. That way, when online shoppers visit your store, they will see familiar faces. Create an “About Me” page that tells your personal story. Offer your expertise with a written or video blog. Tie-in to your print advertising, if you have any. If you’ve run an ad in Antique Trader, then use an “As Featured in Antique Trader Magazine” tag with a live link to Antique Trader.
3. Make shopping easy. Customers shop categories, so have all your products separated by category. Display the category menu prominently in a sidebar. On individual listings, be thorough with product pictures. eBay allows each listing to have up to a dozen pictures; you should have as many as necessary to adequately display an item. Descriptions should detail as many pertinent facts as you know: What it is, the brand, year manufactured, finish, type, “school” or period, dimensions, and shipping weight.
Also include an “I have a question” link on each product page, so a shopper can call or email while the page is in front of them.
4. Get your tech in order.Secure your site with an SSL certificate, if it isn’t already. Insure that the font you use is big enough to be read and is of a typeface that transfers well across devices and browsers. Insure that your website looks good on desktop computers and various mobile devices. In the upper right corner (or other prominent position) of your homepage, offer a search box so that shoppers can quickly shop for an item if they want to.
Applying these four tips requires just a few hours of your time and an investment of $200-$300 or so for Trust Badges and an SSL certificate. The return on this small investment will pay for itself many times over in increased sales.
If you’re not selling on your own ecommerce website, you’re missing sales. In February 2019, online sales accounted for about 10 percent of sales for U.S. retailers [https://bit.ly/1BZPKII].
How does your website measure against this benchmark?
What would a 10 percent increase in sales mean for you, your business, and your family?
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