The pandemic has set in motion a complete change in customer shopping behaviour. Not only are people increasingly going online to buy items which they previously preferred to buy offline, such as medicine and groceries, but those earlier uncomfortable with online shopping are now giving it a try.
While these changes may have been born out of necessity, in the long-term we can expect online shopping to encompass more types of items and cater to millions of additional customers.
But as more people shop online, scammers are flocking online channels to dupe customers; ultimately, making them suspicious of online stores. Since the start of this year, Hong Kong police have received over 1,865 reports involving more than $7.34m (HK$56.9m) worth of medical supplies.
In an environment such as this, it's crucial to build a trust-worthy image for an online store, to make it more likely that first-time shoppers buy from your site and also encourage old customers to keep coming back. Here are three ways to build a trustworthy online store to boost sales:
Establish a two-way communication channel with customers: Being responsive to customer enquiries and interacting with them on social media channels can help build your brand identity, reach new leads and deepen relationships with existing customers. Merchants can make use of messaging functions that ecommerce platforms provide to ensure customers can reach them anytime. Some platforms even offer the option to connect to customers via a social media platform like Facebook Messenger to send regular order updates.
Constantly update website information: Apart from having error-free website copy and high-quality photographs, continuously update website content and ensure the site is running smoothly with a fast-loading time. If you’re using an ecommerce platform to host your store then you don’t have to worry about the back-end technicalities. You can simply manage the look and feel of the online store by customizing your website, making it easy to navigate, uncluttered and regularly updated.
Choose secure payment methods: To guarantee your peace of mind and that of your customers’, integrate your online store with secure payment options from well-known providers such as PayPal. When you choose payment providers with 24/7 transaction monitoring, fraud prevention and buyer protection, your customers know they’re protected and can seamlessly receive a refund for incorrect purchases.
Get external certification or recognition: Getting a Secure Socket Layer (SSL) certification is a basic necessity as online stores require personal details, including address and payment details, to fulfil orders. An SSL certification gives peace of mind to customers so they know their personal details won’t be compromised.
Apart from security-related certification, Hong Kong merchants can apply for the Quality E-Shop Recognition Competition that we co-organised with Hong Kong Retail Management Association (HKRMA). Quality online stores are recognised based on HKRMA’s Quality E-shop Recognition Scheme - those with sustainable business models, hosted on secured and trusted platforms, offering a user-friendly shopping experience with timely delivery. The recognized e-shops are also entitled to utilise the “No Fakes Pledge” label issued by the Intellectual Property Department. When consumers see this "No Fakes" label on web pages and retail stores, they can be reassured that all items being sold are genuine.
The views expressed in this column are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect this publication's view, and this article is not edited by Hongkong Business. The author was not remunerated for this article.
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Plato Wai is General Manager at SHOPLINE Hong Kong, a global smart commerce enabler. Prior to SHOPLINE, he worked at Lehman Brothers and Nomura Holdings, Inc.
Equipped with extensive experience in the start-up scene, Plato regularly shares his insights on The Stand News and StartUpBeat.