Trust Metrics for E-Commerce

April 16, 2013
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Matthew O’Bryant

E-commerce simply means buying and selling of goods and services online. Websites such as Amazon or Overstock are great examples of e-commerce sites that work hard at nurturing trust metrics that encourage customers to purchase and continue purchasing from them. Every online business is affected by trust metrics, even if they don’t know it. Google’s PageRank is an example – like it or not, your site has a PageRank and similarly every good online business has trust factors that it specifically develops and nurtures.

Let’s look at a few trust metrics categories that have a special relevance to e-commerce sites.

Metrics that assure shoppers that:

  • the website is secure and has not been hacked
  • the website is not going to damage their computer with viruses or malware
  • their privacy is being protected and that the website will not inappropriately gather or store their personal information
  • the item(s) they purchase are warranted or guaranteed

While there are many e-commerce trust metrics, factors or seals that are available, here are a few specific examples:

SSL Certification Seals

SSL certification is a fairly simple metric developed in the early days of the Web. An SSL certificate is a third-party verification system that allows you securely transmit personal information between two parties, in this case, between your browser and the e-commerce site. In most cases, when you purchase your certificate, you will be provided with a seal, or graphic logos, which should be prominently displayed in areas of your site such as your shopping cart and checkout process. This can help show browsers that they are visiting a secure website that has not been taken over by criminals or pranksters. In addition, having these seals, particularly from an SSL issuer who is well-known and reputable, can help encourage your visitors to proceed with their purchase.

How to Get It: Your web hosting company will almost always offer SSL certification resale’s for a nominal cost, yearly fees vary depending on encryption level and term. You can also purchase them directly from companies such as Verisign, GeoTrust, Comodo and Thawte.

McAfee SECUREMcAfee Secure

McAfee SECURE is essentially an anti-virus program for websites. Commerce sites enrolled with SECURE are scanned daily by McAfee servers, looking for viruses, malware, and other security vulnerabilities that crooks or hackers might try to inflict on your e-commerce site. Sites that are clean are able to display a seal, with the current date, so that consumers can see that the site is not going to put destructive software on their local machines. In addition to malware protection, SECURE provides proof of PCI compliance, which means that the credit card transactions on the site are tested and found to comply with the national standards for accepting credit card information. McAfee’s research shows that the presence of this seal can boost conversion rates by 12% by reassuring the customer that the site they are entrusting with personal data is safe and secure.

How to Get It: Visit www.mcafee.com. Prices and plans vary by the size of your site, and you will have to talk with McAfee sales staff to find out the specific price and availability for your site.

BuySafeBuySafe Logo

BuySafe assures your customers that the items they buy will work, provides a best-price guarantee, and provides a quasi-insurance policy in the case of identity theft. The BuySafe seal is a popup that displays persistently on your sales pages, reminding buyers of the protections that they have. BuySafe’s research shows a 6 to 10% increase in conversion rates on sites that display the BuySafe seal and a 20% increase in profit from increased customer loyalty and order repetition.

How to Get It: Visit www.buysafe.com and – you guessed it – talk to the sales staff. The fee for BuySafe is dependent on the sales volume and profit margin of your web commerce operation.

TrustArcTrustArc Logo

TrustArc is a program that monitors your commerce site’s compliance with privacy policies and guidelines and certifies that your customer’s personal and financial information will be treated with appropriate precautions. There are a variety of TrustArc products, including email protection and mobile applications. When your site has passed the TrustArc scan and inspection, you receive a seal which can be displayed to let customers know that you will respect their private data.

How to Get It: Visit www.trustarc.com and arrange to speak with their sales staff about your specific needs.

While these metrics are not free, they aren’t always hugely expensive either. Almost 90% of e-commerce shoppers worry about security and some sites show up to half of their shopping carts in process are abandoned partway through – surveys show that worries about privacy and security are a major driver in the abandonment decision. When considering the role that trust plays in converting a visitor to a sale, it is easy to appreciate the genuine value that these services provide to businesses that use them.

You may not need all of these services, but if you are buying or selling online, it is a virtual certainty that you should be using at least one and probably more.

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