Tuesday, July 16, 2013

How to Maintain a Safe E-commerce Website

Online shops are created to serve as a more convenient alternative to physical stores, yet quite too often, website owners make the mistake of coming up with a site that a customer might find too sales-y, intimidating and unsafe, thus losing potential leads to competitors who seem more trustworthy.

Image Credit: http://www.eliteway.net 
When customers go to your shop, they don’t look at your backends or check SSL certifications. The appeal of e-commerce web designs is usually the first determining factor in a client’s decision on whether to deem your site safe for purchase or not, and consequently, to push through with a sale.

How do you actually make your online store appear safe for customers so you can establish trust and win their business? Below are a few basic guidelines:

•    Simplicity is key.
Don’t clutter your pages with anything that’s beyond necessary. People would want to look at a clean, smooth-looking site; it makes navigation easier and more enjoyable. Avoid employing overly loud graphics or obvious sales pitching here and then. A few promotional click-through buttons are desirable, but nothing too big. If you have other similar offers planned ahead, place them in cycles of 2-3 high-resolution photos for each user, then simply provide a “view more” hyperlink to your promos page.

•    Make navigation easier for users.
Your site architecture must be relevant and easy to understand even for people who are not tech-savvy. Categorize your products and services into easily visible tabs or buttons. You might also want to create sub-categories under main entries, instead of clumping everything under a single option. It is also wise to display items under a particular filtering scheme, such as “Sort by Brand”, and add a search field as well. These will all make searches easier for your customers and prospects.

•    Let your users know your site is secure.

There are some buyers who would actually look for technical cues that your website is secure beyond its interface. These may include security certificate details upon checkout, or bearing the https:// rather than the usual http://. But usually consumers tend to look for simpler cues like a disclaimer that assures them that security measures are being employed by the company, privacy and refund policies, and updated contact details including a working contact number and office address, if applicable.

In addition, you should also make sure that your payment forms are secure. Give them reliable payment options to choose from. Aside from SSL certification, you should employ simple, clean looking payment pages with a security logo.

While low-cost pricing and popularity help in widening an online store’s customer base, it is also undeniable that a consumer’s online safety plays an important role too. Aim for that first, and you will surely go a long way with your leads.