Imagine visiting a new online store for the very first time. You know nothing about the brand, the quality of its products, or its commitment to customer satisfaction.
Like most shoppers, you’d probably search for reviews from past or existing customers, looking for any proof that the business meets your needs.
But when your own ecommerce store is brand new with no sales yet—and therefore no reviews or social proof to leverage—how do you overcome the gap in trust to instill confidence in potential customers? This is a dilemma that almost every new entrepreneur has to face.
Customer trust is hardest to earn when you don't have any customers.
Yet, you need to build trust with customers before they’ll choose to buy from you. Fortunately, as a fresh upstart there are several ways you can overcome this conundrum to establish trust and grow your ecommerce business.
In this post, you’ll learn nine strategies to win customer trust and how to provide exceptional customer service, so you can start growing your ecommerce business from the ground up.
9 Ways To Build Customer Trust When You Have Zero Sales
1. Share the human side of your business
As consumers, we tend to distrust brands at first glance. Their ultimate goal, after all, is to make money. But we are more open to trusting people and brands.
That’s why one way to overcome consumer skepticism is to show the human side of your brand. Consider introducing yourself—the person behind the business—to your customers, especially if it would add authenticity and credibility to your brand. For example, if you sell products that you make yourself. Allow your support team to share their personality and connect with your customers on a personal level.
A great place to start building customer trust is on your site’s About Us page. By focusing on you as the business owner instead of just your products, you can tell your story and your brand’s story at the same time. This helps customers get to know you more, which lays the foundation for them to trust your business, too.
Take this example below from Truvani.
It not only captures the store owners’ personal experience in the industry and demonstrates their expertise, but also pits them against the status quo and explains their reasoning for wanting to do better by their customers.
This builds the kind of emotional connection with customers that only a small business can. Both of these factors—knowing that they're knowledgeable and that they are real people—helps us feel better about purchasing from their store and can ultimately improve customer retention and help build a loyal customer base.
Likewise, you can add a human face to your own business, entwining your personal story with your brand's story.
2. Build relationships through content
Content is a powerful tool for connecting with new users who have no idea who you are, giving you a chance to slowly introduce yourself to them without being pushy. It is also a scalable way to gain customer trust.
Creating and publishing content regularly can show that you’re invested in your business, your industry, and your customers’ problems, which is always a good sign for consumers.
Content can also help consumers get more familiar with your brand, especially if you share stories and develop a distinct brand voice. Both of these things will show the personality behind your brand and help people feel like they really know you and can trust you. Content is not only great for building customer trust from the start, but also maintaining customer trust as well. Educational content, for example, is a core tenant of providing excellent customer service. Useful content for your customers allows them to get answers and solutions to their problems without having to pick up the phone.
This is further aided by encouraging discussions that let you connect with people. Even if users only leave a quick comment, this gives you a valuable opportunity to talk to them one-on-one, establishing a personal relationship through their screen and inviting them to revisit the conversation again.
Content marketing is also an exceptional way to demonstrate your expertise. If consumers see that you, as the store’s owner, really know your stuff, they’ll believe in the quality of the products or services you offer.
A mattress company like Casper, for example, can use its blog to demonstrate it knows a thing or two about getting a good night's rest.
For content marketing to be effective, you must provide high-value, high-quality content on a regular basis.
3. Show customers that their security is your priority
The first two strategies focus on demonstrating your trustworthiness as a business. That’s an important start. But you’ll also want to ensure that your site itself looks trustworthy.
Cybersecurity is a huge issue, with hackers exposing even major chains like Target. So it only makes sense that consumers are wary about giving anyone their credit card information. Having lax security protocols is one of the quickest ways to lose consumer trust.
One way to combat this is to use security-boosting apps that not only add another layer of protection, but inform customers by displaying security badges on your store (like theShopify Secure badge).
The TrustedSite Trust Badges Shopify plug-in is a great example. Not only does it help protect user information, but a big part of its value is that it places a badge from a well-known security company on your site, which can help improve conversions.
Offering multiple payment options is another way to make consumers feel a little more comfortable about buying from you. Some shoppers simply prefer certain payment methods over others.
Offering PayPal, for example, acts as a secure financial gateway that many customers prefer to use, feeling it adds another layer of protection. One study even found that while customers trust their primary banks more overall and didn’t like to deposit funds into PayPal, 69% of those surveyed believed that PayPal was better at protecting their financial information. If you’re able to offer payment options that users trust more, they’ll trust you more, too.
BioLite Energy’s checkout highlights a variety of digital wallet payment options at the very front of their checkout, such as ApplePay, PayPal, and Amazon Pay, which likely decreases their abandoned cart rates.
Take note of any and all customer feedback regarding payment options. If you receive dozens of emails asking if you accept PayPal, for example, that might be a sign for you to add that payment option. Of course, depending on your business, your customers will expect different payment options, so just keep an eye on any patterns for payment option requests.
4. Highlight an excellent return policy
If you were on the fence about making a purchase, what’s the one thing that would immediately make you feel better about buying? A great return policy. A good return policy can instantly improve customer trust, as it makes your customers feel there’s truly nothing to lose.
Good return policies are seen as a sign of quality customer service. They show that you prioritize the customer experience and that you’re confident about your product, so much so that customers can send it back for a refund if they don’t like it.
Return policies immediately lower the potential risk your customers assume when they buy online. If you offer free returns within 30 days, no questions asked, people will be a lot more willing to purchase from you. If you can’t afford to offer free returns to all of your customers, consider offering it only to loyalty program members.
Learn More: What is customer retention and why is it important?
It’s not just enough to have a great return policy, though, you also want to advertise it on your site:
- Create a page that outlines your full return policy (this can also be a part of your FAQ page).
- Have a section dedicated to returns on your product pages (like in the example above from Press).
- Link to your return policy in the footer of your site.
5. Make yourself available for customer inquiries
Customers who are unsure about your brand may reach out to you through several different methods, including your site’s contact form, email, and social media profiles. They may want to know about return policies, shipping dates, or other product information.
Learn More: Use these free business card makers to help promote your business.
It’s important to answer these inquiries as quickly and thoroughly as possible.
Who would you trust more: a brand that responds within two minutes with a full answer to your question, or one that takes a day to deliver a four-word response?
Speed is particularly important today, when instant gratification has made consumer demands more urgent. Because of this, if possible, integrate live chat on your site (such as Shopify’s Messenger channel). Knowing that they can get a near-instant response may encourage potential customers to send questions, and you can chat with them to address concerns or objections in real time, and even upsell or cross-sell other products.
Live chat is becoming a staple of customer service excellence. It’s also a preferred method of communication for many customers, with 92% saying they felt most satisfied during the buyer’s journey when using the feature and 53% of consumers preferring live chat to other methods of communicating with a brand.
6. Provide detailed product information
The more customers know about what they’re about to buy, the more likely they are to actually go ahead and purchase it.
Being specific helps—instead of saying “leather,” it sounds much better to say “Vachetta leather.”
Some things to consider adding to your product descriptions include:
- Exact measurements of the item
- Exact weight of the item
- Product ingredients/manufacturing materials
- Warranty information
- Individual product features (“Adjustable strap”) and their subsequent benefits (“So you can ensure this purse is custom fit to you.”)
It also helps to have as many images and videos as possible to demonstrate the product quality and how it can be used. This helps people envision it in their own lives, and the clearer they can see it, the more likely they are to believe you can deliver what you say you can.
For more on writing better product descriptions, be sure to check out 10 Ways to Write Product Descriptions that Persuade.
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7. Consider giving away samples
Finding those first few customers to give you a chance and help you gain traction can be a challenge. One sure-fire way to get your products into customers’ hands is to give it away.
Product samples, or giveaways, can generate interest in your business and inspire trust by eliminating all the risk. Offering customers the chance to “try before you buy” isn’t for every business. But if you sell a product that you can afford to give away in smaller quantities (such as food), you can earn consumers’ confidence in the product first and then more easily convert them into paying customers afterward.
There are several different ways to give out your products for free that will yield actual results. These include:
- Giving them to a set number of people and asking for a review in return. You can capture reviews or testimonials and display them on your site once there are enough to build credibility.
- Send your products to influencers or bloggers who can get the word out to your target audience for you.
- Distribute free samples through pop-ups or events to drum up interest, knowing that people who like the product will search you out later online.
Remember that product samples and giveaways are a great way to start building trust, but that for these efforts to be effective and maximize your return, you must get your products in the right hands. While creating loyal customers is a long-term process, positive reviews of samples is a great way to put you and your business on the map.
You can hear more about free sample strategies that worked for other store owners in the following episodes of Shopify Masters:
- How Impact Mouthguards Grew a 6-Figure Business by Giving Away Their Products
- How HDX Hydration Sells Someone a Drink Before They Know What It Tastes Like
- 17 Strategies to Attract Customers to Your Online Store
8. Use an FAQ page to address buying concerns
A strong FAQ page can accomplish a lot.
It can answer user questions about both your brand and your products, demonstrate your expertise, provide product information, and show customers how you run your business.
This is just another way for users to get more familiar with your brand and more comfortable with purchasing from you.
FAQ pages are often written with the intention of informing users, overcoming objections, and alleviating any qualms about purchasing. It also gives you more room to tell your brand’s story, reminding users about what makes you different and showing them why they should become your customers.
Take this example from Litographs. Every question is asked in the voice of the customer, and each answer gives a detailed explanation and refers visitors to other parts of the site (e.g., the return policy) to learn more.
Your FAQ page can include:
- Information about your brand that didn’t fit on your About page or homepage
- General product information that you know matters to your customers (“Yes, our products are organic, paraben-free, gluten-free, and soy-free)
- Information about certifications or licenses that can establish trust, like a kosher certification
- Answers to questions customers are continually asking you, or that they ask your competitors
If you haven’t created your FAQ page yet, you can learn more about it in How To Build a FAQ Page: Examples and FAQ Templates To Inspire You
9. Fix the little things that erode trust
Last, but definitely not least, don’t forget to take an honest, close look at your store, on desktop and mobile, from your homepage to checkout.
Ask colleagues and friends if they would trust the site enough to buy from it. If so, why? If not, what’s creating that sense of unease? Is your homepage unclear about what your business is about? Are your shipping times not transparent enough? Do you own or even have a memorable and short domain name? If not, consider registering a new domain name.
You may know that you’re honest and trustworthy, but that doesn’t mean that customers do.
Comb your site for small mistakes. If there are obvious spelling or grammar errors in your copy, you can lose credibility and hurt your conversion rates. Even if you’re not a writer, you can run your copy and content through Grammarly to catch any stray errors.
Broken links also look sloppy, and poor quality graphics look unprofessional and cheap. These might seem like small issues, but they can affect whether a customer trusts you in just a split second, so don’t ignore these details.
Customer trust comes before sales
Trust is a requisite for purchase, especially when shoppers today have countless options available at the click of a mouse.
Every business owner has to start at the bottom, with no sales and no social proof to leverage. With these strategies in place, however, you’ll hopefully be in a better position to win your first few sales and work your way up to a reputation that continually inspires trust from a growing customer base.
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How can you build customer trust FAQ
What are some ways to build trust with a customer or client?
- Investing in quality customer support.
- Being open and transparent about your business policies (shipping, refunds, etc.)
- Going the extra mile to make things right.
How do you lose customer trust?
While customer trust takes a while to build, it’s easy to lose it. Avoid the following:
- Being dishonest or not transparent about your business policies.
- Not making reasonable exceptions.
- Not investing in your customer support team.
- Not taking care of your most loyal customer base.
- Not listening to actionable customer feedback.
How can you build customer trust with zero sales?
- Take care of your early customers like they are your loyal customer base.
- Invest in building trust by providing personalized customer service.
- Understand your customers interests and create content and educational material to help them have a better customer experience.
- Offer loyalty programs for new customers.
- Highlight your return policy.