Top7 Needs to Make Customers Feel Safe Buying Online
By Joseph Jobst
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It's been etched in our collective psyche as netrepreneurs that some consumers have a tendency to distrust Internet businesses. You need to convince people to buy something just by looking at a Web page. Most of the people who visit your site will still find the idea of ordering online unusual.
So your site needs to inspire visitors with confidence. It should say that yours is THE kind of company that does things correct and right, and that if someone orders from you, it will be a recommendable experience.
- Present Professional Appearance:
If your site looks amateurish, it will be a quick turn-off to your prospective consumers. They probably won't buy from someone whose Website has spelling and grammar errors, or is loaded with screaming headlines and gaudy, mismatched color schemes.
Of course there is no direct connection between the quality of your site and the quality of your company. A company could have a brilliant graphic designer and lousy products. But usually there is a connection, and that is what visitors to your site will assume. If you are unable to put up a good Web site, then it seems natural to assume that your company cannot deliver good products or services. So check that spelling and grammar. Choose graphics that give you that "professional look". And be sure to compare your Website to others in your industry.
- Your Own Domain Name:
How is the first impression you make, coming across an address such as "http://www.members.freewebspaceprovider.com/user/~"? Or is it a more established "http://www.yourcompany.com". Let's face it, if your company won't spring for a domain name at $35 a year, many potential customers will think twice before they buy from you.
Ideally, your domain name should capture the essence of your business. A good name is catchy and easy to remember. Check if your desired domain name is still available at: [http://linz1.net/vsdomck.html]
- Offer Several Different Payment Options:
The most successful Web sellers realize that many consumers are wary of entering their credit card information online. Although accepting credit cards is a MUST, it makes sense to accept payments via snailMail, email, phone, fax, and accept company checks, etc. for those more "cautious" customers. (Beware of tricky merchant account dealers - read more about at [http://linz1.net/merchant.html]
- Emphasize Service:
As I mentioned above, most of the people who visit your site will still find the idea of buying online a little strange. You have to reassure them. The most powerful confidence builder is a top-quality site: high production values go to influence directly on the visitor's subconscious.
But it's also important to reassure visitors explicitly. For example, if you are determined to provide great customer service, tell your visitors so, right on your site. Guarantee that they will be satisfied with what they buy from you, or you will refund their money with no questions asked.
If you try ordering online yourself, you'll find one of the biggest concerns that you have is: who are these guys? Did they actually get my order? Are they going to send me the products? When?
So make sure that you ship orders quickly. Web users want fast results. They don't want to hear that they should expect to wait 4-6 weeks for delivery; this is not 1970!
- Build Confidence:
Customers want to know how to get in touch with you if they have questions. Be sure to supply your email address, your street address, and a contact phone/fax number.
When a customer does send you email, respond promptly! Customers deserve to be treated like gold. If you can, make it a policy to respond to email within an hour or two at most. Customers will be delighted to see that you care about them.
Anything you can do to show that you are "for real" will help increase orders. If possible, include an image of your catalog or your company's building, customer testimonials, or even a brief company history.
Apply for a Certified Safe Shopping Site by organizations such as Better Business Bureau, PublicEye, RSACi, etc. and show their logos prominently.
- Use Appropriate Risk-protection Measures:
Are you shipping expensive items? If so, be sure to use a package service that provides proof of delivery. There will always be some customers out there who falsely claim that a package was not received (and occasionally there will be packages that truly are lost or stolen). Since you bear the responsibility for those losses, you should take care not to put large amounts of money at risk.
- Describe Your Products Correctly:
Be sure that customers are familiar with your products before they order. You can achieve this goal by thoroughly describing your merchandise, showing photos, and disclosing any important limitations.
Don't surprise your customers! If you're selling a book, how many pages is it? Provide an excerpt or a chapter for free reading on your site. If it's a video, what's the running time? Display a short sequence, supply an online viewer perhaps for free. If it's a consumable item (such as food, gifts, etc.), what quantity are you shipping? How is it packed. Display photos.
If you manage your customers' expectations before they buy, you'll avoid disappointing them later.
Today's Top7Business Article Was Submitted By Joseph Jobst, Founder & President of josconNetworks Inc. & Global Internet Marketing Inc. A seasoned netrepreneur who made his living on the Net. Subscribe to his highly awarded weekly free newsletter *GIM - Global Internet Marketing News* -- send blank e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
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Article Submitted On: June 21, 1999