Why do shoppers choose to buy from a competitor even when another product has better features or benefits?
Why do shoppers keep buying from the same brand?
How do you build up a loyal customer base that raves about your product?
Why do some Shopify brands have customers who are brand ambassadors while others don’t?
The answer is simple yet tricky. Let’s dig in.
I’ll start with an interesting fact.
Did you know that the pain of paying for something with your hard-earned money is equal to the pain of stubbing your own toe?
Brain scans show that trusting someone else’s solution to your problem lights the same area in the brain (with the same intensity) as stubbing your own toe.
How’s this relevant? People don’t buy products; they buy solutions to problems. When shoppers don’t know your brand, metaphorically speaking, they have to make an unconscious decision to ‘stub their toe’ the first time they buy from you.
As an eCommerce brand in the home and garden industry, this has another layer of complexity because traditionally, customers are used to touching and seeing the product in real-time (who would’ve thought of buying a fire pit, patio furniture, bed linens, or a greenhouse online 10 years ago?).
Unless… you help them to know, like and TRUST you.
Think about it, would you buy something for your home or garden from a company with no reviews, clear shipping & returns policy or poor customer service?
In other words, would you willingly stub your own toe? Most likely not.
That’s why building trust with online consumers is the best investment of your brand’s marketing dollars.
There are many elements to consider when building trust with your audience – and it’s an ongoing process.
In this article, we’ve borrowed the psychological concept of ‘BRAVING Trust’ from shame and vulnerability researcher, Brené Brown, to illustrate how your eCommerce brand can apply this framework to build a loyal and trusting relationship with customers.
‘Trust’ is a tricky topic to dissect and often seems like a black/white situation. You either trust or don’t trust someone. Braving Trust is helpful to break down trust into seven elements that, when put together, equal trust.
B.R.A.V.I.N.G. is an acronym for:
1. Set Boundaries in Your Business
In the eCommerce world, it’s vital to set clear boundaries and realistic expectations with customers as soon as possible.
Using systems will support you in establishing a healthy work/life balance and a business that doesn’t drain the energy out of you.
However, It’s not just for your benefit. Setting boundaries helps nurture positive customer relationships while giving you the space to provide high-quality products/services and consistently better your brand.
These boundaries can be highlighted in a variety of different ways. As an eCommerce brand owner, you can:
- Define Working Hours
Do you have 24-hour customer service? Or perhaps you only respond to queries on weekdays? If you don’t offer customer service on the weekends – reassure shoppers that you’ll be with them first thing Monday morning.
It’s essential to define your working hours for your own work/life balance and to set manageable customer expectations.
- Communicate Shipping Timeframes
Can customers expect a next-day delivery, or will it be a week from ordering? If your shipping timeframes take a little longer, explain the process of creating your product and why it takes time.
To avoid any miscommunication, it’s critical to be as clear and concise as possible.
- Clarify Your Responsibility
Customers should know what to expect if something goes wrong. For example, if their product arrives damaged, will you replace it? Communicate your responsibility upfront so there’s no frustration later on.
We work closely with all of our eCommerce business partners to craft highly-detailed warranty, returns, FAQ, and shipping pages. This type of strategic content helps brands clearly communicate critical information such as working hours, shipping timeframes, and their overall responsibility.
These pages are essential when it comes to setting boundaries within their eCommerce businesses. Not only do they detail necessary information for shoppers, but they also help to eliminate many questions and concerns that could be a barrier to purchasing.
2. Be Reliable For Your Customers
Is your eCommerce brand perceived as reliable? In other words, do your actions regularly fall in line with the promises you make?
Demonstrating reliability is essential in building a trustworthy brand.
However, it’s a gradual process and something that can’t be established overnight. But you can always start today.
Shoppers want to feel good about purchasing from your store (i.e. they don’t want to stub their own toe), and countless factors contribute to building this confidence in your brand.
Some of them include:
- Accurate Product Descriptions
A concerning statistic from Onespace shows that “50% of shoppers have returned an item because it didn’t match the product description”.
Let’s put this into perspective. If you were to buy ‘soft, lightweight sheets’ and when they arrive they feel rough and heavy – would you feel satisfied? Therefore, being as detailed as possible is crucial for being viewed as a dependable retailer.
- Deliver On Time
Depending on the product type, your customer may stay home from work to accept the shipment, so delivering within the promised timeframe is vital. Focusing on consistency will help your brand be viewed as trustworthy and reliable in shoppers’ eyes. When delivery timeframe is outside of your control, let customers know.
- Showcase Reviews to Demonstrate Reliability
A study by Spiegal found that people are 270% more likely to purchase a product with as little as five reviews than one with none.
This is especially true when buying a high-end product for your home. Would you feel confident about dropping $500 on a piece of furniture with no reviews? Most likely not.
Needless to say, having visible testimonials is critical in customer decision-making, showcasing brand reliability, and increasing sales.
Our customer, Revelle Linens, recently entered the eCommerce space after four decades of solely running their business from a brick and mortar location. Despite their product being loved by millions, they didn’t have years of digital reviews to showcase on their website.
As a way to demonstrate brand reliability without hundreds of online testimonials, we strategized to showcase the ones they do have on key areas of their website. We’ve now placed them on relevant product pages, their home page, and a dedicated reviews page. For shoppers unfamiliar with this established brand, this tactic fosters a sense of security and trust that the brand is reliable.
3. Hold Your eCommerce Brand Accountable
Looking beyond the basics, brand accountability is multi-faceted. It means taking responsibility, providing necessary information, and having an unwavering commitment to your customers.
When many eCommerce store owners think of accountability, they’ll immediately jump into problem-solving mode– but it’s actually more effective to lead with empathy.
Put yourself in your customers’ shoes before anything. How do you think they would feel dealing with this potential problem? How would you want to be supported if you were in their situation?
Here are 3 tips that will help you take an empathetic approach to your brand’s accountability:
- Willingness to Fix Mistakes
Will you offer solutions and support if your product arrives broken or a shipment is delayed? E-commerce brands that jump to the occasion to replace products, offer discounts, or provide refunds are generally viewed as more trustworthy.
Why? A willingness to fix mistakes shows how much a brand prides itself on quality. When it comes to turning a negative customer experience into a positive– accountability is your best friend.
- Customer Service
Nothing is more frustrating than dealing with a product issue and feeling like there’s no one to turn to. Say you’ve purchased a kitchen appliance that won’t turn on despite studying the manual for hours. Wouldn’t you expect support from the company?
Let your shoppers know that you’re available to support them by highlighting your contact details, integrating a live chat option on your website, or sending post-purchase emails asking about their experience.
- Full Transparency
Don’t hide crucial details from your customers. For example, if your product requires installation, batteries, or special tools, it needs to be highlighted at every opportunity on your website.
Neglecting this essential information will set your customers up for disappointment if they’re unable to use your product right away. Complete transparency can be uncomfortable, but more often than not, it’s the best choice for your brand.
Planta Greenhouses worked with our team to place brand accountability at the forefront of its digital marketing approach. The above screenshots display customer reviews that show how successful this strategy has been.
Customers describe how quick Planta is to resolve issues, how friendly and helpful they are when it comes to asking questions, and the extra assistance they’ve received when installing the product. By holding themselves accountable, Planta has seen brand loyalty skyrocket. Higher sales followed suit.
4. Keep Your Customers’ Details in The Vault
Would you want your private information circulating on the internet? When a customer trusts your eCommerce brand with personal details, you must meet them with a high level of privacy and protection.
Creating a safe environment for your shoppers is the foundation of developing strong brand trust and positive customer relationships. As a business owner, it should be your highest priority to keep your customers’ data safe and secure while shopping at your online store.
This is done by ensuring that your visitors can safely explore, research, engage with, and buy your products without worrying about outsiders stealing their information.eCommerce brands can show this through:
- A Safe And Secure Checkout
Instill trust in your brand by incorporating a secure payment option on your website. This lets them know that sensitive information is encrypted, and they’re protected from security issues and fraud.
- Don’t Sell Customer Emails to Third-Parties
Your customers deserve privacy. When someone makes a purchase on your website, they should be offered the same respect and discretion that you would give a friend. Receiving marketing emails from unknown companies days after making an intimate purchase on your company’s website would sound every alarm bell possible.
Selling your customers’ emails to third-party marketers is an invasion of their personal space. There are several other creative and less invasive ways to maximize your revenue and build up your brand. Don’t lose valuable customers with sneaky tactics that deplete the trust they have in your brand.
- Showcasing Your Privacy Statement
This won’t be the most popular page on your website, but it may be the most important. Show shoppers why you can be trusted to handle their personal information by outlining the security procedures you have in place.
5. Work With a High Level of Integrity
How do you showcase your brand’s integrity?
Say what you mean and mean what you say.
At its core, brand integrity is all about aligning your publicly promoted values and promises with the actions and decisions you make as a business.
For example, if you’re a home goods store that preaches sustainability, make sure those values are also present in your supply chain, product, and packaging. That way, there’s no doubt about your brand’s integrity.
The best way for Shopify brands to showcase integrity is through:
With countless customer touchpoints, it’s essential to keep your values and actions consistent across all platforms. Streamline your messaging and posting so that the same personality shines through while actively highlighting the promises you’ve made and kept.
- Showcase Brand Values
Shoppers are steadily shifting towards brands that work with integrity. This means that companies with shady business practices and superficial values will lose customers in droves.
Now is the time to show shoppers what your priorities are. For example, are your gardening supplies organic and chemical-free? Explain how. Or are your furniture materials natural and sustainable? Show your process.
Truth be told, this is the soul of your business, so don’t be afraid to go into detail at every opportunity.
Our team has worked with several Shopify brands to showcase their values and develop a consistent voice across their website and marketing channels. The primary way we did this was by creating a ‘Why Buy From Us’ page outlining their brand mission and incorporating the company’s personality in an engaging way.
This page is a fantastic way for shoppers to learn more about the brand and what it stands for. Right away, they see that the business works with a high level of integrity.
6. Offer Non-Judgemental Support
Nobody wants to feel foolish for simply asking a question. That’s why eCommerce brands must be as open, responsive, and non-judgemental as possible.
There are 3 key things eCommerce stores can do to provide exceptional assistance and support to their customers:
- Thoughtfully Answer Questions
Adopt the mentality that ‘no question is too small.’ Shoppers are coming to you for more information because they’re interested in your product! Use this as an opportunity to squash any doubts, allowing them to feel comfortable enough to make a purchase.
- Provide Quality Customer Service
It’s essential to actually be available to help customers with your products. Fast response times, accessible contact tools, and a friendly, knowledgeable customer service team will give your customers the peace of mind that they’ll be able to get the support they need from your brand.
- Create Valuable Resources
Don’t forget to take a non-judgy approach when creating content. Most customers won’t be experts in your industry and would benefit from useful, explanatory blogs, guides, and even videos about how to use your products. Articles and guides such as ‘How to make your bed’ or ‘5 tips to install a greenhouse’ may seem basic, but they could help many.
Plus, the stronger your content is, the less likely shoppers will come to you with time-consuming questions already answered throughout your website.
Over the years, we’ve helped many of our eCommerce customers develop comprehensive ‘Learn’ sections for their brands. Filled with blogs, videos, and detailed guides, they help answer common customer questions in a central place on the website.
Time and time again, shoppers have expressed how valuable these sections have been throughout their buying journey. So whether they’re on the fence about making a purchase or needing assistance once it has arrived, this page is an excellent resource for old and new customers alike.
7. Show Your Brand’s Generosity
Giving back to customers and communities can often be challenging for eCommerce brands. How do you show generosity without negatively impacting your business’ bottom line?
The truth is, it’s possible to do good without breaking the bank.
Remember– shoppers care about your brand values and how you treat your customers. Finding ways to build relationships and enrich the lives of others have a strong influence on how customers perceive your business. Taking a generous approach can often be rewarding in more ways than one.
Then, how can you show your brand’s generosity?
- Offer Exciting Promotions
Give back to shoppers with small offers and high-value promotions. From free gifts to major discounts, your customers will feel excited to shop with a brand that appreciates them.
- Long-Term Relationship-Building Strategies
Good relationships are all about give-and-take. Reward existing customers periodically with gift cards and discounts when they send through pictures of life with your product or in-depth testimonials.
- Incorporate a Donation Platform
Give your customers an opportunity to support a cause your brand believes in. Adding a donation option at checkout is a great way to showcase causes you care about while getting others involved.
- Donate Your Products
Highlight the ways you support your community. Generously donating your products to local businesses and organizations is not only personally rewarding, but it allows your customers to see your brand through a different lens.
A successful technique we’ve employed with several Shopify brands is to utilize their mailing lists as a way to express generosity. Email is a more direct and intimate way to communicate with shoppers. So sending through discounts, donation opportunities, and relationship-building campaigns tend to have higher interest and engagement than on other platforms.
Start Building Trusting Customer Relationships
Working on trust-building may seem like a never-ending process.
And truthfully, it is.
Like any relationship, once trust is earned, it’s strong. However, a healthy relationship requires work, and it’s your responsibility as the business owner to re-establish that sense of trust in your customers.
Home & garden Shopify brands we work with rarely think about the opportunity cost lost when customers don’t trust your brand.
Take away your shoppers’ pain of ‘stubbing their toe’ when they buy from you – and instead help them feel confident and safe in the hands of a business that cares about them.
That’s where we can support you. Our creative eCommerce team has the expertise to highlight the best parts of your business and help you with areas that could use some improvement.
From thoughtful content strategies to a website redesign, we’re here to elevate your brand authentically and sustainably.
Let’s hop on a quick Zoom call to see how we can help your business thrive.
Want to learn more about BRAVING Trust? Listen to Brené Brown’s original podcast that inspired this article: Part 1 and Part 2.