What Makes E-commerce Sites Trustworthy?


A flashy design, lightening-speed page load time, and excellent usability are all great elements of a successful e-commerce site. But there’s something more basic that a website needs to have in order for you to get sales from your e-commerce store:

Trust (n.): Assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something.

If your e-commerce site lacks trustworthiness, consumers aren’t even going to stick around long enough to appreciate the other great attributes your site has – they’re going to leave immediately.

According to a 2012 survey from Anonymizer Inc., a vendor of consumer online anonymity solutions, 45% of online consumers were concerned about identity theft. In 2010, the National Cyber Security Alliance found that 64% of Americans have canceled an online purchase because they were afraid the website wasn’t secure.

Unless you’re a well-known company with a great reputation (think Amazon.com), you’ll need to convince your potential online customers that you can be trusted. Luckily, there are a variety of different ways you can add elements of trustworthiness to your site:

Security Badges

Of course the most obvious part about making your site seem trustworthy is showcasing your website’s security badges. But what security badges should you use? According to a survey from Actual Insights, 76% of respondents said the reason they didn’t purchase something online is because they didn’t recognize the security logo. Consumers from the same survey were asked to choose which security logos they found the most trustworthy:

  • PayPal (29%)
  • Verisign (25%)
  • McAfee (23%)
  • BBB (7%)
  • TRUSTe (3%)

Adding at least one, but preferably multiple, security logos to your website will make consumers feel more confident about making an online purchase from your e-commerce site.

Fame & Recognition 

If you’ve gotten reviews from any well-known company, famous name, or industry expert – nationally or locally – make sure you quote them somewhere on your site.

It’s pretty obvious that if you’re a start-up pet food company who was recently praised by Petco that you’re going to showcase that on your site, but don’t bypass the smaller recognitions either, local recognition can be just as beneficial. If your city’s humane society or town veterinarian recently praised you, include that on your website as well. Praise and acknowledgement from any trustworthy organization or important person – be it local or national – will help you establish a reputation.

The same goes for anytime you were mentioned in the press, or were recognized for an award. This will make your company seem real, since trustworthy sources have acknowledged your presence and recommended or praised your company. Plus, it allows people to do a little more research about you. If you claim to have won a regional award, consumers can look that up online for confirmation about the win and check out the legitimacy of the award.

Contact Information

A 2009 study from comScore found that 22% of consumers abandoned their online shopping carts because shoppers wanted to ask questions about checking out and couldn’t find any customer service or contact information.

When consumers are shopping around on your website it’s comforting to see a phone number, email address, live chat button, or physical address listed somewhere that’s easy to find. After all, if people are going to be purchasing a product from your e-commerce site they want to know how to get a hold of you if their product arrives damaged – or doesn’t arrive at all.


A physical address isn’t absolutely necessary, but it does help establish trustworthiness. Even if you’re a 100% online-only company, a physical address shows people that somewhere in the world there is an actual location where your business exists. If you do run your business entirely online, you can use your home address or get a P.O. Box or a UPS store address for a small fee.

Tip: If you are just using a P.O. Box or UPS store, make sure you also have a phone number and email address listed on your contact page, since that’s how you’ll be handling most of your customer care.

SSL Certificate

Safe online shoppers know to look for a lock icon or colored tab to the left of the website URL, and an “s” after the “http” part of the web address in order to confirm that the site is encrypted, and therefore safe for them to list their credit card information.

A SSL certificate encrypts a customer’s data so it’s difficult for web criminals to steal, otherwise all of their credit card information is written in plain text for anyone on the internet to access and use.

Lack of a SSL certificate doesn’t only put your customer at risk, it can also put the business owner at risk. The Payment Card Industry compliance guidelines state that all online credit card transactions must be encrypted. This encryption is especially important when it comes to e-commerce transactions. If a company is ever caught sending credit card information without a SSL certificate, they are subject to fines, penalization, and may even get their payment processing revoked.

Maintaining Trust

Security badges, fame from trustworthy sources, contact information, and SSL certificates are all essential components your website should have in order to establish trust with your consumers, but they’re not the only four things you need. Engaging content, professional-looking design, an easy checkout process, no broken links, and page speed are additional elements that you should look into when considering site trustworthiness. Start with the basics and build your way up.

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Tags: ecommerce, online sales, trustworthiness, website improvement