Now more than ever, South African businesses have been spending an increased amount of time and money online. Worldwide, 30% of customers have also adapted their shopping habits to online environments and marketplaces. So what can South African e-commerce businesses do to continue building and developing trust with their consumers? This strategy needs to be considered and consistent, beginning with these 4 things.

1. Ensure your payment gateways are safe

Consumers are savvy when it comes to online safety. They have heard the stories and probably have already been targeted by scammers, or been victim to phishing. So they want to ensure that their personal data and credit card info are secure and that the people they are doing business with care about their safety. So for online SMEs, it is crucial to provide your customer with secure payment methods which will protect the customer by requiring layered security measures like a one-time pin or 3D secure banking app authorisation. The safety of the process must be made obvious to the customer in order to develop trust in your business. This is a priority and a core responsibility you have to your customer, which is not only appreciated but expected as well. 

2. Watch the reviews

Reviews are crucial for the success of any online business. The way customers talk about your product or service online will lead to big success or massive failure. Remember that not only do you want online reviews of your business but you also need to be tracking these comments at any given moment. Where possible, respond to the reviews in a courteous and considerate manner so that other customers can witness you caring about that particular customer’s experience. This in turn helps the customer to feel validated and important and adds another layer of legitimacy to your online store.

3. Get to know your customer

A major challenge for online SMEs is that customers will compare you to both international and local brands, meaning that competition is high. So staying in regular contact with your customer will help you get to know who is buying from you and in turn, will help you understand what else they are needing. The more knowledge you have about your customer, the stronger position you will be in to improve your product and ensure success in any market. 

4. Be transparent and remain honest

It is important to be transparent with your customer in order to help them really trust you. This is particularly important in an online environment where so much is left up to the imagination; like the operators behind the scenes. By making the effort to loop your customer in and arm them with a wealth of information,  you will begin to build customer relationships and remove any anxiety from the commercial picture. 

The bottom line

Online businesses are in a more complicated relationship with their customers because of the anonymity associated with the experience. This makes it so important for online SMEs to take additional precautions that help them get to know their customer and build trust in an authentic way. These 4 tips will start to encourage this relationship building and in turn will lead to more spending underpinned by long term trust.

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