Trust is an essential part of the online shopping experience. e-tailers that don’t establish trust with the customer throughout the buying and checkout process will see much higher shopping cart abandonment rates. In fact, 70% of shoppers have canceled their online orders simply because they didn’t “trust” the transaction.
While veteran e-commerce managers know this, it’s still easy to overestimate how trusted one’s brand may be in international markets. In mature markets like Western Europe or Japan, this could be due to lack of brand reach.
However, in developing markets (e.g. China, Southeast Asia, Latin America, Eastern Europe, Middle East, etc.,) much of the e-commerce growth is from net-new shoppers who are coming online for the first time, and who don’t yet have any established brand tastes or preferences.
When you can’t rely as heavily on your brand, it becomes that much more important to go the extra mile to establish trust with your international customers through other means.
Use culturally appealing photography and design
We know that a big part of product photography and design involves encouraging the shopper to think about who they aspire to be, and how the product can serve as a means to that end. Naturally, these considerations may shift when thinking about the perceptions of international audiences, since design that feels native and modern, and that includes culturally appropriate photos will be more trusted.
Always consider whether the culture you’re marketing to is motivated more by notions of individuality or collectivism, for example, or if your audience perceives products as higher value when they’re local versus when they’re imported. Build customers’ trust by photographing products in locally-appealing situations, with locally-appealing models.
When it comes to design, colors and symbols are also important. Writing someone’s name in red is a taboo in China, for example, as this can indicate that someone has died, or been cut out of your life. Also in China, blue is a more feminine color, as opposed to many Western countries where blue is a masculine color. In the Middle East, orange is associated with mourning and loss. We should also consider the watersports company whose globalization efforts failed in Malaysia because their main company color (green) was actually associated with death in the Southeast Asian country.
The more your UX feels authentically native and local, the more shoppers will trust your products are right for them.
Localize product reviews & ratings
Trust built early can go a long way when it comes to reducing shopping cart abandonment rates. Implementing well-localized product reviews that your international customers can connect with will play a big role when it comes to establishing this trust—and the more trust a customer has in you, the more likely they are to follow through with their purchases.
Research published this February shows that the #1 thing customers rely on to help establish trust with a brand and make purchasing decisions are customer product reviews. It’s important then, to consider how your international customers may feel about the reviews on your site.
For vendors that have reviews, the ideal scenario is displaying local ones for each market, e.g, Brazilian shoppers see Brazilian reviews that address Brazilian concerns.
However, if you don’t have local reviews, consider translating them from other languages. Translated reviews in local languages should read as naturally and organically as possible. If your reviews have awkward wording or phrasings, it may come across as disingenuous and actually erode trust.
Additionally, consider using reviews and ratings to address international shopper concerns in each market, such as shipping issues or potential customs issues.
Lastly, if your core product information is stored in an e-commerce system, but other integrated 3rd party systems display complementary content, like reviews, it can be easy to forget to localize the content in a 3rd party system. If you’re using a 3rd party service for reviews, be sure to include it in your localization process!
Use the right trustmarks at checkout
Badges at checkout—like security, privacy, trust or assurance seals—are also helpful in reducing shopping cart abandonment. One Marketing Sherpa study found that trust badges increase conversions by as much as 14%.
Another study found that as many as 79% of online shoppers expect to see a trust badge on the retailer’s website, and 61% actually decided against completing a transaction because there were no trust badges, or they weren’t familiar with the ones they saw.
It is, however, important to consider the power trust badges may—or may not—hold in each market. For example, trust badges are virtually a necessity in Latin America, where shoppers can be highly distrustful of online stores. The same is true for Spain, where 43% of shoppers have avoided shopping online because they’re worried about the security of their banking information. Conversely, trust badges have a negligible impact on South Koreans’ buying perceptions and behaviors, as well as on Scandinavians’.
As you think about which international markets are important to your business, consider these locally or regionally popular trustmarks:
- Norton security badges rule the U.S. (SSL)
- Webshop Trustmark is the seal of choice for Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and France. (Measures the reliability of online shops.)
- ConfianzaOnline represents over 10,000 online retailers in Europe (A quality assurance mark that also helps mediate any issues that may arise between retailers and shoppers.)
- iCERT is highly recognized in Spain (Measures both security, but also reliability of an online store.)
- eCommerce Europe is a trustmark highly valued in 11 European nations (Quality assurance, and mediation between customers and retailers.)
- eInstituto provides trustmarks for Latin American countries (Quality assurance.)
- eKomi is valued in South Africa (Inspires shopper trust in customer reviews.)
- The Hong Kong trust mark helps global shoppers trust Hong Kong-based businesses.
- This resource lists The European eCommerce and Omni-Channel Trade Association (EMOTA) provides recognized trust marks for a host of countries including Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Estonia, Lithuania, Russia, and more.
- idEA provides retailers with a trustmark for Indonesia shoppers
- The Association of Internet Trade Companies (AITC) provides a trustmark honored by Russian online shoppers.
Deliver outstanding local support
A study by the Atlantic Marketing Journal found that non-localized customer service can have a marked impact on customer trust and satisfaction.
Consider your international customers who are poised to buy, but who have additional questions or concerns they want addressed first. If they aren’t confident that your customer service team will be able to answer their questions due to a language barrier, you may lose an opportunity to nurture trust and a relationship with the customer, and they’re likely abandon their cart.
That said, sometimes it’s hard to localize customer service, especially when you haven’t set up local offices or don’t yet have the means by which to hire local talent.
Thankfully, there are some less expensive avenues to consider, such as self-service. For example, when your local content doesn’t inherently answer a customer’s questions, they’ll likely turn to your FAQ. However, if your FAQs were developed for North American shoppers, they may not be the right questions to address a Russian, Thai or Argentine shopper concerns.
This isn’t any different than the best practices involved when developing any content, however it’s doubly important when you’re working to build relationships with new customers—especially those who don’t yet demonstrate brand preferences. To that end, forums are also a great opportunity to serve potential buyers by enabling happy local customers to advocate on your behalf!
If you are able to hire local customer service reps to communicate with your customers, be sure to use regional phone numbers that signal this. If building local support teams in each market doesn’t make sense for your business, consider a chat app translates language naturally in realtime. (To learn more about realtime chat translation, request a Qordoba demo here)