Launching an online business in the competitive personalised gifting sector has quickly taught us a few things about what’s important to stand out. In the digital age where we buy products and services from companies we may never visit and we correspond with people that we’ll probably never meet, trust is the most critical asset required to have any hope of longevity.
Consumers must take a leap of faith when trying an online business for the first time, spending their hard earned cash on something which they aren’t yet able to qualify. As a new business entering an overcrowded online market place, how do you stand out as one that consumers are willing to take that leap with?
In our experience almost a year into life at Print My Smile, there are a few key factors that can build trust for first time buyers:
1. Your brand identity should reflect the quality of your product.
This is especially important in the gifting sector that we trade in. It’s such a competitive industry that price competition is inevitable, but consumers looking for gifts want to know that they won’t be sending something poor quality - even if the price tag is reasonable! At Print My Smile, we offer very competitive prices but our website photography, product descriptions, tone of voice, blog, videos and marketing content reflect the quality, intelligence and reliability of the brand. This gives the customer a level of trust – if we’ve invested in our brand identity then we should be invested in protecting its reputation with quality products and service.
2. Reviews show you’re not afraid to be transparent.
Featuring un-vetted consumer reviews that show potential customers the experience of people like them is essential. The good, the bad and the ugly all contribute to the trust a consumer will have in the brand, so don’t hide negative reviews but make sure that you deal with them in an open and positive way. Showing you are responsive, listening to customer feedback and making changes where necessary shows commitment to the customer. We work with the revered Trustpilot peer review platform because it is one of the most trusted and consumers know they are seeing true reviews. They also offer great support to us as a brand, so we have learnt quickly how to deal with customer feedback. We’re delighted to have a 5* rating but we also like that there are a range of reviews that show we’re a real brand with real people.
According to independent research shared by Trustpilot, 77% of consumers use online reviews to help them make purchasing decisions, and 62% are more likely to do business with a company after reading a positive review. These figures show the significant influence authentic customer reviews have on helping consumers choose the companies they want to do business with, so these should be part of the marketing strategy of any e-commerce business.
3. Website security and compliance are essential.
SSL certificates should be the norm but still some brands don’t know the value of having one. Get it sorted and we can all shop more safely as consumers! Also, GDPR may still make us quiver a little but it’s not something that happened and has gone away! We make sure we’re doing everything we can to protect our customer’s data at all times and will continue to ensure that is always a priority.
4. Treat suppliers the way you’d like your customers to treat you.
If you expect customers to trust you, you need to be a trustworthy company in everything you do. If you're relying on the service of others to deliver your products and services then there needs to be trust on both sides. In this world of social sharing it's too easy to get exposed as unethical if you aren't trading fairly.
We use a third party supplier to fulfil our orders and trust between us has been key to us expanding our product range quickly. Pay on time, treat suppliers well, have open and honest two-way conversations when things aren’t working as well as they should and everyone will be happier.
5. Make customer service your number one priority.
This is pretty much a given for any business, but responding to customers’ queries quickly is essential whether they get in touch via social media, email, phone, carrier pigeon, or by stalking you to your office! Consumers will happily share their experience if they can’t get hold of you or they don’t get an adequate response. Showing that you’ve listened, responded quickly and done everything you can to resolve the issue will reduce negativity, even when you can’t give them what they want.
6. Say sorry and make it right. The customer is always right (even when they’re not!). The end.
As the old adage says, it is not what you say or do but how you make someone feel that will be remembered. So we think it’s important to over deliver on the feels to go far!