One of the biggest challenges of online retail is the question of trust. How can shoppers tell if a site is secure? Are the products really what they seem? Will they actually get what they ordered? Building trust online is definitely harder online than in person, but it's not impossible. We'll show you some ways to start.

In a physical store, every little detail can affect a customer's level of trust. From the location, to the cleanliness, to the quality of the service staff, there are plenty of ways to help foster a sense of trust with face-to-face customers.

The same thing applies online. From the homepage to checkout, there are plenty of things you can do in your online store to build trust and turn visitors into shoppers.


 1. Add security badges & icons

One of the biggest concerns for online shoppers is the security of their sensitive data. So how do you overcome that concern? By clearly communicating the security measures in place on your site, like SSL certificates, PCI compliance and other certifications. In your Volusion store, you can do this by enabling the relevant security badges in your Nav Menu Promotions.


2. Provide detailed company information & contacts

Another way to reassure your visitors that you're a legitimate business is to let them get to know you. Tell them about your company, what you sell and why. You can do this on your homepage, your About Us page and in your communications with them. And speaking of communications, make sure it's easy for them to communicate with you. Get started by adding a contact form, including a general email address and customer service number so customers feel more comfortable about ordering from you. And if your store has a physical location, share that as well--it also lets shoppers know where their orders will be coming from.


3. Share your return policy (Also, have a return policy)

One of the primary reasons customers will get in touch with you is to ask about your return policy. A good return policy is especially important for online merchants, where customers can't try on or try out your products. But it's also an important factor in convincing new customers to buy from you. If you have a clearly defined policy that makes returning or exchanging items easy for them, they'll be much more likely to commit to buying from you. For tips on what you can/should include in your policy, check out this post on writing a killer return policy.


4. Give quality descriptions

Trust isn't just about security--it's also about the quality of products that you're selling. So don't risk turning off your potential customers with vague, unclear or unhelpful descriptions. Describe your products in detail (a practice that can also help improve SEO rankings), including any details about materials, construction or technical specs that may help customers choose the right product. If you have PDFs of product documentation, user manuals or other materials, consider sharing those in the descriptions, too. The more information you provide, the more shoppers will trust the quality of your inventory.

In your Volusion store, you can include this information in the Product Descriptions fields under Advanced Info.


5. Use quality photos

This should be obvious after the previous point, but quality photography can make an immediate impact on how shoppers judge your products. Most manufacturers will provide high-resolution images of their products, so that's a great place to start. But you can also take your own photos to show any additional details, action shots and options that shoppers may like to see. Using a high quality camera is best, but you can take pretty good photos with a point-and-shoot camera. In addition, you can ask your customers to submit their own photos. User-generated photos do more than just show real people using/wearing your products, it also shows that you have an active, satisfied customer base, which goes a long way towards building trust in your brand.


6. Enable ratings and reviews

Speaking of user-generated content, give your current customers plenty of opportunities to share their opinions of your store and your products. The best way to do this is to offer ratings and reviews of your products. According to a recent post from Search Engine Land, 72% of customers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, which can make a huge impact on their purchase intent.


7. Promote social sharing

If you really want to connect with your customers, include features that let them Share, Like and Pin your products through their social media accounts. When potential customers see your products on their friends' pages, they'll be more likely to visit your store and make a purchase. Just like ratings and reviews, social sharing can have a huge influence over customer purchase intent.


Of course, probably the most important thing you can do to build trust in your store is to provide your customers with high quality products and service. Do that, and a lot of these efforts will naturally follow.


This post is part of our Method & Message series by Clay Delk. Check back every other Wednesday for the latest discussions on content, context and commerce on the web.