Building Trust with Customers Is Critical. Here Are 5 Ways to Do It

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Since the onset of Covid-19 consumers appear to have re-assessed their priorities when they’re shopping online. Today, consumers are expecting higher levels of authenticity, seeking out brands they can trust will deliver on promises and that also align with their own values. In fact, 52 percent of respondents from Euromonitor’s Lifestyle Survey in 2020 agreed that they only buy from brands that they completely trust.

It’s not hard to see why trust has emerged as the key consideration when it comes to shopping online. Today’s e-commerce market is fraught with fulfillment issues, with a third of shoppers experiencing problems with delivery since the pandemic, something that’s leading to greater levels of disappointment and mistrust in online shopping.

Engineering trust will be a key driver of both customer retention and acquisition in 2021, so it is vital that retailers are able to cultivate and strengthen the bond between brand and the consumer, which can see them through these troubled waters. Here are five strategies online retailers can deploy to build trust with their customers:

1. Offer a Personalized Online Experience

As retail adapts to social distancing and store closures, we can expect to see growth in the personal shopping experience, particularly at the premium end. This will be an opportunity for brands to connect with their customers on a deeper, personal level and understand customers’ needs, while users benefit from having a great personalized experience that will see them wanting to revisit.

John Lewis has launched a free, virtual personal shopping service for customers to receive the product advice without leaving their home, while luxury brands Burberry and Gucci are betting on personalized video consultations to spur sales, launching their own video services.  This approach retains the exclusivity, excitement, and individuality of the personalized service one receives in-store, and we expect it will become standardized in the online space.

2. Offer Convenient Delivery and Pickup Options

Convenience is key to building trust, so in addition to offering home delivery, aim to offer “click and collect” wherever possible. According to recent research, 79% say click-and-collect options are very important to them. This strategy appears to have helped some e-commerce businesses weather the Covid storm. U.S. firm BJs Wholesale puts much of its year-on-year 300% digital growth down to allowing customers to pick up in-store.

It’s becoming apparent that retailers need to think out of the box when it comes to adopting new technology. By offering customers extra layers of convenience, they’re more likely to secure their trust and win their business in the future. 

3. Don’t Overpromise on Delivery Times

Promising what you can’t deliver is a surefire way to destroy your customers’ trust in your brand. So have realistic order fulfillment goals, and use them as a basis to improve your fulfillment service going forward.

Here’s a quick tip: Implement automated forecasting features to help you gauge your shipping delivery capabilities. That way, you’ll avoid costly mistakes and unfulfilled orders. With an automated system, you can create fulfillment quotes in real time, so they’re based on your actual inventory and warehouse capacity.

4. Start Automating Your Workflows

As consumers move online, vendors must process increased demand of online orders more quickly, more accurately, and in a manner that safeguards both their employees and the end user. If they don’t, they risk errors and delays that further damage an already tenuous relationship between seller and consumer, and will lead to negative reviews and poor feedback, which will hurt conversation. In a recent Brightpearl survey, 46 percent of respondents told us they regularly check star ratings for online retailers before buying from them, and two in five consumers have been put off a brand or a retailer they might have shopped with by a single unfavorable review. And, according to the poll, 77 percent of all one-star reviews were related to issues after the buy button, like delayed deliveries or items being shipped to the wrong place.

If you’re running out of stock or shipping to the wrong addresses on a regular basis, these mishaps often come down to ineffective workflows or human error. And, the survey shows, these mistakes will not win you any favor with customers—they will quickly erode trust in your brand, and you can count out any repeat business.

With that in mind, automation should top the wish list for those wanting to build trust with customers. The best online retailers are using automated solutions to oversee the creation of estimates, sales orders, shipping orders, and invoices, thus avoiding human error, increasing productivity, and ensuring customers are happy.

5. Ask for Feedback

Customers want to feel that brands value their opinions, so asking for feedback will show you care. Send out surveys on a regular basis, have live chat or phone support available when they run into issues, and ask customers to share whether your products and service have lived up to their expectations. Use feedback as a basis to improve your end to end service—and then communicate that back to customers as a way to further connect with them.

All e-commerce brands should be encouraging customers to leave reviews and then adding those reviews to your product pages. Why? 84 percent of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. So keep on top of your feedback and ratings, and do respond to negative comments immediately. When faced with the decision of whether to buy from a big brand name with poor reviews or a lesser-known one with glowing reviews, people will opt for the latter every time.

Since taking the helm as CEO of Brightpearl four years ago, Derek O’Carroll has led the digital operations platform to more than $18 million in revenue, a $105 million valuation, and managing more than $5 billion in orders. Shortlisted for CEO of the Year at the Digital Masters Awards in 2018, the father of two is now recognized globally as a retail expert.

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