Establishing your store’s credibility and reputation online
All About Trust
When a customer walks into your store, it’s not only your product selection that’s on display - it’s your exceptional customer service as well. So, how do you ensure that the reputation and credibility you’ve worked so hard to achieve comes across when someone sitting at home at 11 PM clicks on your website?
It really comes down to two elements that are also integral to your brick-and-mortar strategy - trust and transparency. According to Ross Cockerham, CEO and co-founder, Punchmark, a jewelry website-design agency based in Charlotte, North Carolina, 80 percent of their jewelry clients cited being trustworthy as the number one “must-have” for their website.
Cockerham identifies several criteria to help drive your credibility and trustworthiness online.
It all starts with an accurate visual representation of your store. “The design aspect is really big and there are several key components - product photography, store photography and people photography,” says Cockerham.
Jewelers agree that their website has to mirror the look of the store. This is even more important for independent jewelers since website visitors may be existing customers already familiar with the store or people who live nearby. Creating a totally different store image can result in alienating them.
“What if I looked at a pristine website and then walked into a store that was sloppy? How would I feel?” asks Shannon Haas, owner, The Ring Austin in Round Rock, Texas, who will soon open a second store. “When I started working on my website, we went with a traditional jewelry store feel and very quickly I realized it wasn’t an image of who we are. We take jewelry very seriously, but we’re silly and funny and enjoy our customers; our website has to tell that story.”
“We’re not into clutter,” says Greg Fakiér, owner, Fakiér Jewelers in Houma, Louisiana. “Our website is clean, open and airy - just like our store.” And like his store, the website emanates trust because “that is what we believe in.”
Engaging the Community
“Our website features a lot of customer-generated content and endorsements,” Fakiér points out. “We try to keep our social side extremely professional and credible with good, solid content and avoid making false claims. Furthermore, having a website tied into our social campaign helps driving traffic from social media to our website and vice versa.”
“Community is very important to us,” explains Haas. “Videos help to draw our customers in. Combined with Instagram and social media, these videos reinforce how we relate to our customers. We’re like them - casual and down-to-earth.”
Fakiér believes including company mission and history on the website can foster more of a bond with online customers. But facilitating conversations with customers takes precedence.
“Chat is huge,” says Haas, citing her use of Podium that allows her to talk “one-on-one” with customers. According to Cockerham, this application transfers a customer’s online message to the store, giving its associates the ability to respond back to the customer via text or e-mail.
Recognizing the importance of quick response and follow-up, Fakiér admits that he will temporarily take down the chat capability if staffing issues prevent them from responding quickly.
Tell Me More
According to Cockerham, “We’re living in an Amazon era with tremendous access to product data and people now expect a lot of information when buying jewelry online.” It is no longer sufficient to see a ring described as a 1-carat diamond. What sizes are available? Can I order it in platinum or white gold? “You’re not selling trust unless you provide extensive details about the jewelry,” Cockerham points out.
Buy with Confidence
“Payment security is a huge factor in maintaining your reputation. Your customer has to be assured that the process is easy and safe,” asserts Cockerham.
Cockerham suggests incorporating Paypal or Amazon Pay, third-party systems that “open the door to something they already know and trust.” In addition, they simplify the buying process, which both Haas and Fakiér adamantly agree has to be seamless.
Adding badges from recognized organizations, such as the Preferred Jewelers International, the Better Business Bureau or McAfee, attests to your transparency and trustworthiness.
Cockerham also encourages including clearly stated shipping and return policies on your website, especially at the point of checkout to reinforce your high-level customer service.
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Show Me Your Badge
Cockerham describes adding organizations’ membership badges as “hit or miss.” Haas and he agree that badges for jewelry trade groups are more effective for B2B websites. Yet, Fakiér points out, “The same customers who read about your history, may be interested in badges because it makes the website more professional. The man shopping for an engagement ring definitely knows the Gemological Institute of America (GIA).”
Both Haas and Fakiér acknowledge the challenge of creating an effective website. But they concur that a well-designed website allows you to “meet” customers online. “We get to show these customers our professionalism and energy,” says Fakiér. “You can speak to your customers through your website. But you have to be true to your story - that’s how you create trust,” advises Haas.
Did your website pass the trust test or do you need RapNet’s cheat sheet to get your website up to a passing grade? Download RapNet’s cheat sheet at https://info.rapnet.com/4-best-practices-for-building-trust-on-your-website