In the age of disinformation, fake news and growing concerns about personal data usage, how do you convince online shoppers and vendors that your platform is safe to use? Safe enough to buy into the convenience of the ecosystem you’re building in order to monetize your online marketplace?
Luckily, as digital trust has become a greater challenge, more research has been dedicated to figuring out how to build trust in the online space.
Here are 4 areas where research has uncovered that it makes sense to focus if you want to build trust in your marketplace.
Build and design your product with trust in mind
It’s common sense really but building a user experience that feels trustworthy starts with building a product that’s designed to feel trustworthy.
A study by Stanford University found that 46% of people say that design is the number one criteria for determining a website’s credibility.
This result is backed by The Nielson Norman Group who states that design quality, up-front disclosure, comprehensive and current content, and connection to the rest of the web are the 4 ways which websites can communicate trustworthiness. Here they highlight the need for a well-organized site and a pleasing visual design that matches the purpose of your site.
The Nielson Normann Group has also created a pyramid of trust, based on Maslow’s famous hierarchy of needs. It outlines the 5 levels of commitment in site-user relationships and advice that you do not try to move the user to the next level of commitment before having met the trust needs of the previous level.
This is really important to consider when you design the user journey both for your buyers and sellers to ensure that trust is established.
It’s particularly important considering that in a survey by KPMG, 30 per cent of shoppers’ state that the most important attribute when deciding where to buy is having a preferred website and a website preference is closely tied to the level of trust they have in your site.
Verify your sellers and your content
For traditional ecommerce, it’s quite easy to ensure that design and content go hand in hand. For online marketplaces, this is a lot more challenging since in our industry we rely heavily on user-generated content. This creates multiple challenges. First of all, you need to assure that the content uploaded is genuine and not intended to scam potential buyers. Scam account for 2 per cent of the total volumes of content we review at Besedo every month. With that number in mind, it’s easy to understand why scams can have a significant impact on the user experience of your site if not removed early and continuously.
Make sure you have a process in place for pre-moderating the content that’s submitted so buyers know that the content, and sellers, have been through a verification process before they’re allowed live on the site.
Secondly, you need to assure that the content meets the quality standards required to keep the design of your site trustworthy. In a study on user behaviour on online marketplaces, we found that people who saw irrelevant content were not only less likely to buy the item advertised in the listing with irrelevant information. They were less likely to buy from any other seller on the site. In fact, only 23% of them would buy from other sellers, while 58% of those who saw a quality listing would buy from other sellers on the site.
This means that one piece of bad content can easily ruin the trust of your site. This is especially true for first-time visitors where you have built no other trust capital and as studies show, you have about 50 milliseconds to make a good first impression. As such bad content can severely impact your acquisition rates.
But it isn’t just acquisition that’s hurt by bad content. In a qualitative study we performed, 33% of users found misleading headlines which make them not want to buy the item being advertised at all. They simply didn’t believe they would get the product seemingly advertised.
This is why some of the biggest online marketplaces in the world work with Besedo to ensure high accuracy content moderation.
Finally, your entire brand image can be hurt if you do not have a process in place to curate the content submitted by sellers. Depending on your online marketplace and the target audience, it could be crucial to guarantee a certain level of image and description quality. Keep in mind that the first page of your app or site is the virtual storefront, where users decide if it’s worth it to explore the rest of your inventory. We’ve helped customers tag content with high, medium or low quality so they could guarantee that only high-quality images and texts were displayed at the top of searches and on the front page and other important landing pages.
This is the same tactic Airbnb used when they were scaling and would literally go out to people’s properties to take high-quality images that would convert and attract better.
Social proof through reviews
Reviews are a great way to add another layer of trust to your online marketplace. It gives users a sense of safety to know that others have had positive interactions with the sellers you feature. However, as with all other user-generated content, there’s a risk that bad actors will abuse them. For reviews, this usually happens by them adding fake reviews to boost their own standing or bad ones to discredit competitors.
Amazon, in particular, has struggled with fake reviews and in 2018 a study revealed that 61% of all electronics reviews on Amazon are fake.
The avalanche of fake reviews has not deterred people from using reviews as a guide for purchase and trust though. In fact, a study by Spiegel shows that the likelihood of purchase is 270% greater when a product has 5 reviews compared to when it has none. At the same time, 30% of consumers assume online reviews are fake if there are no negative reviews and 68% of consumers trust reviews more when they see both good and bad scores.
This means that you should add the functionality of reviews to your site, but you need to make sure that the reviews are genuine and that you get a good mix of both positive and negative reviews.
Provide great customer support and quickly respond when people reach out to you
Since online marketplaces rely on strangers feeling comfortable interacting with each other, often with no other proof of identity than what’s offered by their profile, it’s imperative that the platform lends the security to make the leap of faith necessary easier.
An active and high-quality customer support service helps facilitate trust by assuring users that there’s always somewhere they can turn for help if an interaction goes wrong.
A study by KPMG shows that 51% of consumers trust companies who make it easy for visitors to contact the people behind the company.
With this in mind, make sure it’s clear not just how to contact your support department, but also to put a face to the people that are behind your company. If they know there are real and genuine people behind your product, users will have an easier time trusting that, and the same is true for the profiles populating your site.
Great customer support doesn’t just build trust, it also creates loyalty. According to the study by KPMG excellent customer support is the attribute that drives the highest customer loyalty with 66% of respondents.
Consequently, you should invest in high-quality customer support, regardless of whether you decide to use an in-house team or outsource your customer support services.
A functioning and trustworthy Payment solution
The interaction on online marketplaces that require the biggest leap of faith is, without doubt, the step where you transfer funds to a stranger without having physically seen the product you are buying.
In the book “Trust in the network economy”, Petrovic et al. defined a trust pyramid where each level needs to be fulfilled before people feel comfortable transacting online. He also highlighted six elements that, when combined, forms the trust period. The first of them reads as follows:
“Using secure and reliable technology on your website serves as a recipe for promoting trust. Potential customers can feel secure whenever they engage in online transactions.”
That’s why it’s incredibly important to offer payment solutions that both protect the data of your users and acts as a security net if the received item doesn’t live up to the expectations created by the listing and the seller.
It is, however, also important that the payment system protects the seller as scammers increasingly abuse payments systems that favour buyer claims.
Whether you go with an escrow type of payment system where money is held until both buyer and seller are satisfied with the transaction, or a payment system with a lenient and well-functioning refund system, it’s important that you make payment security a priority.
Trust is built by continuously meeting or exceeding expectations
For people to trust your platform you need to always deliver the experience they expect. One negative experience could damage your brand and user trust in your online marketplace for good. According to psychologist Sara Ingvarsson “Even though a company hasn’t promised anything, we project expectations onto them, so when someone’s the victim of fraud they often feel that the platform has failed them and broken its brand promise as a result.”
As such it’s important that you make sure that your users (both sellers and buyers) are always met with the experience they expect from your site. Both when it comes to design and UX, content quality, customer support and payment options.
If you nail those areas, you have a very good foundation for a trustworthy user experience that will help you grow and convert.