3 Ways to Build Customer Trust and Loyalty in 2016

Global ecommerce is projected to top USD $1.8 trillion in 2016, and while digital consumers are enamoured with the convenience of mobile shopping, analysts are finding that they’re also concerned about some aspects of the ecommerce experience.

In its 2015 Consumer Payments Survey,PricewaterhouseCoopers subsidiary Strategy& found that digital shoppers want better data privacy, more assurances of transaction security, and more rewards and offers when they shop online. Ecommerce and mcommerce merchants that address these consumer concerns wisely can build customer trust and differentiate themselves from the competition in the year ahead.

Make your data collection and privacy policies transparent

Only 65% of the digital shoppers surveyed by Strategy & were satisfied with personal data privacy in the mobile shopping experience. The survey report didn’t list specific privacy concerns, but a Harvard Business Report by current and former executives with global design firm Frog described consumers as “deeply anxious” about the types of data collected by online sellers and how it might be used.

Data collection and analysis is a powerful tool to deliver shoppers products and services they want and need, but the execution requires sensitivity and transparency. A prime example of the unsettling effects of opaque data collection and use is a case involving US retail giant Target.

In 2012, a Target statistician told a New York Times reporter that the company’s program to identify pregnant customers by their purchases worked well enough that the company had unwittingly sent pregnancy related coupons to a teen who hadn’t yet told her parents she was pregnant. The company then changed the way it used such information, but the Times report prompted a flurry of media coverage describing the incident as “creepy,” “unsettling,” and a “fiasco,” and some reports even recommended that privacy-minded people shop with cash.

Many consumers were unnerved to think that the retailers they shop with could tease out such personal and private information based on their purchasing habits. Target’s data collection was legal and covered in the company’s privacy policy, but most consumers don’t wade through the legalese of such disclosures. For these reasons, online merchants should be as transparent and plainspoken as possible with customers about the data they collect and how it will be used. Merchants who get this right will earn and maintain customer trust.

Give customers easy digital access to rewards and savings

Part of the reason retailers collect data is to tailor offers to shoppers, and many consumers are happy to share information in exchange for relevant rewards and discounts. But just 58% of the digital shoppers surveyed by Strategy& were satisfied with their mobile rewards and savings options. Merchants who want to court these shoppers must find ways to integrate their customer rewards programs and discounts into the online and mobile experience. American pizza chain Papa John’s does this by letting customers quickly sign in to their rewards points programs before they place an order and then key in a promo code during mobile checkout.

Provide the best possible transaction and data security

Payment security is definitely a concern, even among habitual digital shoppers. Less than 60% of mobile consumers surveyed by Strategy& were happy with the current level of payment security when they shop—and more than half of the consumers surveyed said they don’t shop via mobile device at all due to fears about card and bank data theft.

The tools to assuage consumer fears are already available and constantly improving. Merchants who want more mobile and online shoppers will take the time to educate their customers on the security tools they use. Site copy explaining your shop’s PCI-DSS Level 1 compliance can put visitors at ease, as can information about point-to-point encryption and tokenization of payment data and fraud safeguards. Train your customer service staff to explain your shop’s security practices simply and accurately to customers who enquire. Educating customers is especially important for cross-border sellers, because new customers may be hesitant to buy from an offshore retailer.

Ultimately, each of the three things digital shoppers want boils down to trust. Shoppers want to trust that their financial data will be secure, that their personal information will be used in appropriate and privacy-minded ways, and that retailers will reward their loyalty and information-sharing with good deals. Establish your trustworthiness now in order to reap the benefits of ecommerce growth in the years ahead.

Kirsty Tull is Marketing Manager for BillPro.com