Trust and the online shopper

The success of ecommerce relies almost entirely on trust. Without faith that products will arrive intact, on time and as expected, consumers simply will not buy online. So, how can brands build up trust between themselves and their customers? And just how much are they risking if they lose that trust?

This past April, the Bank of England’s chief economist announced that British citizens and companies had to to accept that, thanks to a litany of global political and economic crises, they are poorer than they were just several months earlier. The statement, which was made in the context of discouraging individuals from demanding higher salaries and business from passing price rises onto consumers, was met with a degree of criticism. 

But this simple message carries a harsh truth that business decision-makers will be well aware of: consumers have less money to spend. That means, as people grow more cautious about where they spend their spare sterling, it’s more important than ever that brands sow the seeds of content at every opportunity with transparent business practices and helpful, convenient customer service.

Nearly nine in 10 business (87%) executives think their customers have a high degree of trust in their company, but only three in 10 consumers report high levels of trust in the brands they buy from. The gap here is notable, especially in an ultra-competitive environment for customer attention, as 71% of consumers say they are unlikely to buy from a company that loses their trust.

Consumers are overwhelmingly willing to buy from brands that they trust, but they are also fairly active advocates for brands that have gained their trust. Almost nine out of 10 consumers (88%) would recommend trustworthy brands to others, 83% would defend the company to others and 60% would share information about the brand on social media.

So. how can brands build that coveted consumer trust? It starts with the basics: affordable products (34%) and ethical treatment of employees (33%). Consumers also expect a degree of quality and variety of products and services, responsive and effective customer service, accountability and corporate citizenship more broadly. Customer service in particular plays a key role in customer loyalty and advocacy. More than 90% of customers say a positive customer experience will make them more likely to buy from a brand again.

There is also the question of data. Some brands might be tempted to stay up-to-date with the latest technology trends in online shopping and ecommerce, but consumers are still protective of their increasingly valuable data, which powers most of the latest CX tech. Forty-three percent of executives see the use of real time as essential to creating digital experiences that build customer trust, but 26% believe maintaining strong data privacy and governance processes is more important.

The bottom line for consumer trust is that consumer trust affects the bottom line. Forty-eight percent of consumers will spend at least €500 per year with a brand they trust. But on the other hand, 57% of consumers say that once a brand has violated their trust they will never do business with that brand again.

Trust is indeed a tricky thing – and brands must take the steps necessary to build it.