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Creating trust in e-commerce
14.06.19, Haydar Yüce

Seals of quality, customer ratings and personalisation: The connection between trust in the online shop and orders placed cannot be overlooked. 32% of respondents say that lack of trust is the reason for abandoning a smartphone purchase¹. The interest in taking confidence-building measures is correspondingly high.

 

Correct understanding of customer confidence

Now shop operators can carry out individual measures to increase customer confidence. So should they. More sustainable and authentic, however, is the right understanding of customer trust. Only then can an online shop be optimized in the long term so that increased trust and improved UX go hand in hand and do not interfere with each other.

A better understanding is provided by the “Integrative Model of Organizational Trust” by Mayer, Davis and Schoorman (The Academy of Management Review, Vol. 20, No. 3, pp. 709-734). New features, technological solutions and plug-ins should always be compatible with the three factors of perceived trustworthiness: ability, goodwill and integrity.

We want to relate the trust factors to e-commerce and then embed uptain as an example into the model.

 

Factors of perceived trustworthiness

 

Confidence factor: Ability

By ability we mean all qualities that justify the given trust. In this context, competence is often also referred to. But what competencies justify the trust of customers in an online shop?

Dealers must be experts in the products they offer. With detailed product descriptions and a blog with relevant content, an online shop proves expertise – not only for its own products, but also for how to deal with them. A blog does not only generate traffic. It also promotes the trust of visitors and potential customers in the shop.

There are numerous other ways for shop operators to prove their competence. Personalized communication conveys personality and proves competencies that concern customer support. A professional web presence, on the other hand, provides a good first impression.

 

Trust factor: goodwill

By benevolence we mean all actions with positive intentions that are directed towards the trusted party – in this case the customer. For online shops, goodwill is the biggest obstacle to winning the trust of the customer. In most cases, profit-oriented interests are rightly assumed behind every action. In the business arena, goodwill cannot be completely proven. By doing without, however, shop operators create a positive mood that comes closest to goodwill.

Probably the most common method used by online shops to express their goodwill is to dispense with shipping and return costs. Undoubtedly, this method is promising. However, the resulting losses should not be underestimated. A threshold value above which the goods are delivered free of charge is a sensible solution in many cases.

Discount codes are another way for shop operators to show their goodwill. In response to the question as to which factors motivate spontaneous purchases on the Internet, by far the most respondents (44%) indicated vouchers². But here, too, the question arises as to which customers should receive a voucher code under which conditions.

 

Trust factor: Integrity

By integrity we mean principles such as reliability, credibility and transparency, to which the trusted party – in this case the online shop – adheres. These principles must be credibly communicated to the customer. There are several ways for shop operators to do this.

For 63% of those surveyed in a representative survey, customer ratings are a decisive criterion when selecting a shop³. This phenomenon – also called “social proof” – is related to the fact that customers trust other customers more than the retailer. They doubt the “goodwill” of the retailer. Independent product evaluations reduce these doubts, prove transparency and act as an important purchasing aid.

The renunciation of advertising-heavy communication in favour of service communication also expresses integrity. The online shop thus makes it credibly clear that communication is geared to customer needs and that the customer is the centre of attention.

Shop operators can also prove their integrity with reliable customer service. In order for the customer to know at what time the customer service is available, the contact options and times should be placed in a prominent position. Especially smaller online shops have the problem that they are not always reachable. This deficit can be remedied by answering customer enquiries quickly and reliably during opening hours.

 

uptain and the three trust factors

uptain considers all three confidence factors and helps to strengthen the confidence of customers in an online shop.

  • Ability: The technology segments the individual visitors and identifies the problem that leads to the cancellation of the purchase. Individually tailored notifications help visitors complete the purchase. Tonality and content are personalized, resulting in a personalized shopping experience and underscoring the importance of customer support. The result: visitors perceive the online shop as a communications expert and increase their confidence.
  • Benevolence: Since the technology determines the exact customer needs, only those notifications are transmitted that express the goodwill of the online shop. Visitors receive exactly what they need in this situation. A customer who would only continue shopping with a discount code will also receive it shortly before the cancellation. On the other hand, customers for whom a low technical affinity was calculated receive further information on customer service (e.g. Whatsapp or telephone service).
  • Integrity: With uptain, the customer is the center of attention. By dispensing with advertising on certain channels in favour of service-oriented communication, the customer recognises that communication is geared to his own needs. For example, this can be seen in text-based service e-mails, which differ fundamentally from advertising e-mails with colourful images.

The “Integrative Model of Organizational Trust” provides shop operators with a tool that helps them understand customer trust through the factors of perceived trustworthiness. Of course, not all confidence-building measures could be mentioned in this article. Nevertheless, all measures can be embedded in the factors mentioned. If updates and new technologies take into account the trust factors ability, goodwill and integrity, online shops can benefit considerably from this positive side effect.

¹ Bitkom: Trends in e-commerce, 2017 (PDF).
² OTTO: Lifestyle study, 2017.
³ Bitkom: Trends in e-commerce, 2019 (PDF).

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