Trust in e-commerce

Buying is all about trust.

  • People buy from Amazon.com (the biggest online retailer world-wide) because they trust them on a lot of levels:
    • Their credit card data is safe.
    • Their personal data (address, name, phone number) is safely stored on their servers.
    • Their buying history is safe with them.
    • If they pay upfront, they will either be satisfied with the goods the receive (and they trust they will actually receive the goods), or get their money back.
    • If they contact customer care, their wishes will be satisfied.
    • The products will be delivered in fine condition.
    • Amazon won’t lie about the price.
    • Amazon won’t intentionally describe the products as safe, if they are not.
    • Amazon will not create fake reviews.
    • … and so on.
  • In Romania, people buy from eMAG.ro (the biggest online retailer in Romania) because:
    • They sold so many things, other have trusted them so much, this means they generally keep their promise.
    • The innovate on many levels.
    • They generally deliver what they promise.
    • They differentiate by asking no question for returning a product in 30 days.
    • They tend to allow negative feed-back comments on their web site.
    • They focus on delivering quickly.
    • They have products on warehouses, which shows they’re a big company.
    • They have physical stores, which shows they afford to spend money.
    • They value their brand enough to do TV advertising (for an online player, this comes at a surprise).
    • They deliver products with quality transporters.
    • … and so on.
  • People buy from F64 (the biggest store in Romania for photo products) due to some of these facts:
    • They have this special warranty, not expensive, but with huge benefits (you can pretty much be sure that your camera is safe, it’s more of an insurance than a warranty).
    • They have a physical store, a huge one, located right in the center of Bucharest.
    • Their product range is huge.
    • They are big enough to hold products on stock.
    • Their sales people are usually very competent.
    • They have courses for learning photography.
    • They invest a lot in educating the market, by putting lots of emphasis on their blog, with tutorials / product testing / interviews.
    • … and so on.
  • People buy from DX.com (one of the largest International online providers for small gadgets in China), due to some of these reasons:
    • You can pay with PayPal, so your credit card data is fine.
    • They’re so big, that if you run into some problems, you can post your complaints online, and they will have some problems with this.
    • They sell so much, that they must be doing something well.
    • Their product offering is huge.
    • They focus quite a lot on security (secured transactions, verification codes, asking for password-re-entering).
    • They offer free international transportation to Romania, even if the price of the product you buy is less than 2 USD.
    • If you don’t like something, you can cancel an order, and you get a refund.
    • When you buy something much cheaper from DX than from any other web site, you trust that, even if the product doesn’t satisfy you, and returning the product is not a very viable option, you should still buy the product, because the price discount is larger than the lack of trust in the quality of the product. DX pays with money the fact that their product may not be top notch, and returning the product may not make it worthwhile to do so.

I wrote this article thinking of the times I don’t buy something:

  • I’m on the street, I see a seller trying to convince me to buy something. I’ve never seen the seller before. I might never see the person again. What is the likelihood that something might go wrong?
  • I’m at the open market, lots of people, some sellers which I don’t know. Some people seem powerful and aggressive. What’s the likelihood that if something is wrong with the transaction, I will be able to stand up for my rights?
  • Pretty much no one buys from some place nobody trusts, and they don’t compensate this in any other way (they’re not cheaper than anyone else, and you don’t trust them; why would I buy?)

Sometimes, things with trust get very mixed up. I had a friend who wanted to buy a PC. I ordered everything online, it was cheaper, and we went to pick up the product (at that time, the delivery cost for the product was something to be accounted, by us two). Although it was a big online player, they sold their products in an apartment. Unknown to me, the company moved their headquarters a few blocks away, and when I had looked them up online, to me it was the same address. It was a very long time ago, I had no smartphone, I was on the street, in front of an apartment where a company wasn’t there anymore. My friend panicked, didn’t trust the company, and he cancelled the order (even if the company put some serious efforts in building a PC especially for him; they actually lost some money on that transaction, and the order was made on my account; they were upset when I gave them the cancellation notice; nowadays, you have to pay some money upfront when you order a PC from spare parts). Anyhow, my friend ordered from a brick-and-mortar store, a central one, much more expensive than the online player. Time passed. The online store is called PC Garage | Notebook, calculatoare, sisteme, periferice si componente PC and is now the fourth one on the online IT&C Romanian market (Topul celor mai mari retaileri online de IT&C | Ziarul Financiar). The brick-and-mortar store went out of business, I think they couldn’t compete with with the prices of online shopping. PC Garage has had in the past years headquarters placed in various locations, but, always, with huge spaces and personnel. In this case, you don’t know clearly who to trust. My friend trusted his instincts so much, that he took a wrong decision (and put me in the middle in his change of heart dilemma).

Buying is mostly related to trust, on various levels. Do something wrong and you’ve just lost something very important (Cel mai important lucru pe care il poti castiga in viata – Andrei Chira). You can’t make everyone happy all the time. But if you’ve lost trust, you have pretty much lost your business. At times, there will not be a second chance.

Alice Popkorn - precious moment, https://flic.kr/p/bVn27k
Alice Popkorn – precious moment, https://flic.kr/p/bVn27k

Note: Also see the Yahoo! Group on which I present similar issues:IMRo. To join, email imro-subscribe@yahoogroups.com and reply to the confirmation email.

I am a Freelancer. My expertise is in SEO (Search Engine Optimization) / UX (user experience) / WordPress. Co-founder of lumeaseoppc.ro (series of events on SEO & PPC) and cetd.ro (Book on branding for MDs). On a personal level, I like self-development - events, sports, healthy living, volunteering, reading. I live in London, and lots of things live in me.

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