What makes your website trustworthy?

Five best ways to win trust

One of the biggest challenges for a new webshop or internet-based business is winning the trust of potential customers. Internet shoppers are more wary than people who walk into a physical store, where they can see and touch the products.

Five best ways to win trust

A lot of time and money are therefore invested in making websites as trustworthy as possible. But how effective are the various ways of promoting consumer confidence? The results of our survey of trends in internet use, which GfK carried out for us last autumn, provide some useful pointers. Here are the five best ways to win trust:

  1. Reviews

    Unsurprisingly, reviews are the biggest factor influencing confidence in a webshop. That has been the case for years and shows no sign of changing. Although all consumers realise that reviews are sometimes 'planted' by sellers, 62 per cent of shoppers regularly consider reviews when judging how trustworthy a site is.

  2. Payment options

    One of the first things that consumers look for is whether they can pay using a familiar, trusted channel. The Dutch iDEAL payment system generates much more confidence amongst shoppers in the Netherlands than PayPal or credit card facilities. Well over half of consumers check for the iDEAL logo before putting anything in the shopping cart.

  3. Geographical location and domain name extension

    For a quarter of consumers, the physical location of the firm they're buying from makes a big difference. Sometimes it's clear from the site where a business is, but consumers also look at the domain name's extension. Local extensions - .nl in the Netherlands, .be in Belgium, etc – tend to promote confidence. So registering local domain names is definitely worthwhile if you want to trade abroad.

  4. (No) warning messages

    An SSL certificate is important as well. Certainly since Google made a site's certification status one of its ranking criteria in 2015. However, it's not enough to simply have an SSL certificate. It has to actually work. If they get a message like ‘there is a problem with this website's security certificate’, 59 per cent of consumers are likely to go elsewhere.

  5. Approval schemes

    Opinion is divided on approval schemes. If you belong to a scheme and display the appropriate logo on your site, consumers definitely do take notice. In our survey, 61 per cent said they looked out for approval logos when visiting a new webshop. However, membership of a scheme doesn't make nearly as much difference to purchasing decisions as reviews do. That is significant, given that membership of an approval scheme can be expensive.

Finally, trustworthiness also depends on the general impression that a site makes. You can do all five of the things listed above, but still have problems winning trust if the general look and feel of your site doesn't encourage confidence. So it's a good idea to ask for feedback from potential customers before your site goes live. And don't ignore your own 'gut feeling': if something doesn't feel right to you, it probably won't feel right to others.

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