Imagine yourself walking into a store. Not just any store, but a brand new, big box retail store that just opened in your town. It isn’t your typical Walmart or Target, but a whole new player you’ve never even heard of before. Naturally, the new store piques your interest. You go in to check it out; hopeful it could become the place your family does their shopping from now on. It’s so close to your house, it could be incredibly convenient.
As you walk in though, you notice something disturbing. There’s a lot of young and rugged looking teenagers loitering out front, looking sketchy. You make a mental note to keep an eye on your family as you walk past them.
Once you’re inside, you head straight for the frozen food section, only to almost slip on a big puddle of water in the middle of the aisle. There isn’t a wet floor sign anywhere in sight.
Then as you’re checking out, the cashier, for seemingly no reason, calls someone over, who takes your credit card and disappears for over 5 minutes. When they return, they have a big smile on their face, and say “Thank you for your business, sir.”
You leave with a very bad taste in your mouth. You don’t ever want to shop there again, because you just don’t feel safe shopping there.
The same dynamic applies online
While usually your physical safety won’t be in jeopardy while shopping online, your wallet and identity can be, and for some people that can be much more important. As an online small business owner, it’s your job to make sure your customers feel safe, and there’s several things you can do to make your customers achieve this.
Have a phone number on your website
Have you ever bought something from someone you didn’t know, without talking to them first? You probably have if you’ve bought from an online store, selling low-priced products. Once the products get more expensive, customers need to feel like they can talk to someone about their purchase. That's why having a phone number at the top of your website is an effective way to make your customers feel safer.
Most people however, will never actually call that number. They will just feel a whole lot safer that the number is there in the first place. You can easily hire someone for a couple of bucks an hour to answer those calls.
Let your customers pay how they want to
Customers can feel uneasy about a transaction when you effectively say to them “You can pay this way, and only this way!” Instead, let them choose how they can pay you, in a way that works for them. By providing choice, they feel more in control, and as a result, place more trust in the transaction.
As an added bonus, the more types of payments you accept, the higher your success rate will be. When you exclude certain payment methods, you’ll lose customers who came to your online business looking to buy something from you using that specific payment method.
Make your security efforts transparent
You’ve probably gone to significant lengths to make sure everything about the buying process is completely secure. Some online stores might have even invested thousands of dollars in security technology. If so, don’t just let that information remain humbly in your head -- brag about it a little bit.
Use headlines and even seals that demonstrate to your customers how all purchases from you are completely secure. Everything from their credit card information to their personal details will be 100% secure and there’s nothing they have to worry about.
Make the experience about your customer
There are many benefits to making the shopping experience about your customer and not you as a company. First and foremost, it makes them feel special and more appreciated. It also though makes them feel much safer about the transaction, because they feel the process was made for them. This is usually something subtle, but have a look at the messaging across your website. Is it more focused on the customer or on the merchant? If it’s the latter, you’ll want to fix that.
While making your customers feel safe can have a huge impact on your small business, it needn’t to be overly difficult. In fact, making your customers feel safer can be accomplished in a short amount of time, and most things only need to be done once. Have a look at your website with a pair of unbiased eyes (or better yet, use a second pair of truly unbiased eyes) and evaluate how a customer might perceive the site. Would they feel safe or not? If not, fix it.
Dana Lindahl is a writer who specializes in content marketing for startups. His writing helps companies not only reach their customers but also drive sales.