No matter what your ecommerce strategy involves, gaining consumer confidence is crucial to achieving success in 2015. Unfortunately, there are no shortcuts: consumer confidence can only be earned through hard work, but it's a whole heck of a lot easier when you use these three easy steps as your guide.
The first step to gaining consumer confidence is by accurately representing your products. Yes, part of your job is to make your brands' products look good, but there's a world of difference between a beautiful presentation and a misrepresentation. Providing shoppers with accurate and detailed product information is the best way to give consumers a representation of what will arrive on their doorstep when they click "buy" - and you want their expectations to be well met.
The best way to gauge your accuracy and honesty is through your customers' reviews. If a product is receiving consistently poor reviews, there's a disconnect between consumers' expectations and the physical product. No product is going to please everyone, but consistently bad reviews (as opposed to a small percentage) indicate one of the following: either your product isn't being presented accurately or the price per value isn't a good fit for your target demographic. In either case, this feedback from consumers is crucial.
Even if a product doesn't live up to consumer expectations, there's still an opportunity to establish trust through excellent customer service. Facilitate free returns for unsatisfied shoppers so they don't feel duped. Publically responding to negative reviews is another good tactic: it requires only a small investment of time, but it will have a huge impact on unhappy shoppers and other potential consumers perusing product reviews.
Once you've set the precedence of honesty with your customer, it's crucial that you provide consistency. One great shopping experience can be obliterated by a negative one. It's important to make sure you're consistent in the following areas.
There's nothing more frustrating than inconsistent product information. It doesn't matter if you're a huge omnichannel retailer with multiple brick and mortar locations or an independent brand that's sold through different online retail channels: all of your product information needs to remain consistent. It doesn't take much to trip up a sale - it could be something as seemingly inconsequential as one retailer calling a bag “powder blue” while another names the same bag “sky blue” - anything that could potentially confuse your customers is a big no-no.
It doesn't matter how hilarious or clever product copy is, if it's not consistent with your branding for your company, it's not going to have a positive impact. That's not to say you shouldn't imbue your brand with personality, but it's crucial that your brand connects with your target audience. In other words, a joke that's hilarious to a 19 to 35-year-old demographic probably won't resonate with the 40 to 65-year-old demographic, and vice versa. Make sure that once you've picked your brand voice, you stick with it - it doesn't mean you can't evolve and expand to a new audience, but it has to feel organic. Ultimately, it's more important to stay true to your core customer base than risk alienating them to attract a new one.
Retail battles are won and lost in the customer service department, and a big part of that is providing shoppers with whatever they need to be happy. Go above and beyond to consistently surprise and delight customers with your ability to handle their problems by doing things like offering online shoppers free return shipping so they feel comfortable purchasing new products.
Trust is the glue on a successful long-term relationship, whether it's between romantic partners or a retailer and their customers, and it also happens to be the natural result of honesty and consistency.
Consumer confidence is crucial to long-term growth and shortcuts aren't an option. However, those retailers and brands that pursue honesty, accuracy, and consistency will see extraordinary long term results.
Originally published Mar 5, 2015 7:00:00 AM, updated February 01 2017