Winning customer trust on shopping’s technology frontier
May 9, 2012 Leave a Comment
There are more sophisticated tools than ever available for tracking shoppers’ behavior, both onsite and across the Internet. While that’s good news for merchants, the data shows that consumers disapprove.
For example, in a recent study of search engine use by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, 65% of consumers reported they disapproved of personalized search results — the practice of tailoring the lineup of natural and paid results based on online browsing behavior — with only 29% agreeing with the statement “It’s a GOOD thing because it gives you results that are more relevant to you.” And more than two thirds of consumers said they don’t like targeted advertising — such as remarketing ad banners — because they don’t want their online behavior tracked.
And this wariness extends to social media. Fully one in four Facebook users has falsified personal information in their profiles to protect their privacy — a 10% increase from two years ago, according to a new study from Consumer Reports. And while Facebook’s ever-changing privacy settings have grabbed plenty of headlines over the years, it’s not the only social site to experience a backlash over how personal information is used and shared. Earlier this year, nascent site Pinterest acknowledged it makes money from users’ pins through a service that adds affiliate links to products, and recently released a notice to users and new terms of service to deal with copyright and privacy concerns.
With such controversy swirling, merchants using these platforms should make an extra effort to maintain and build their own credibility. By signaling to users that even on the technology frontier of commerce, their brands are trustworthy, merchants stand to gain loyal followers — and new customers. A few ideas for messaging trust:
Bring tried-and-true techniques to the frontier. Just because brands are delving into highly experimental social media sites or developing new formats for mobile users doesn’t mean they should abandon their eCommerce best practices. When it comes to earning trust, there are a number of proven methods that help shoppers complete purchases online — and they should be implemented on new customer touchpoints as well as the flagship eCommerce site. Consider how to incorporate privacy and security badges, product guarantees, and access to customer service help wherever your brand has an outpost — as MarketLive merchant Armani Exchange does on its mobile site, where a customer service link is anchored in a contrasting color in the global footer and prominently accessible through checkout.
When possible, give users the tools to take control. Not everyone wants to broadcast the products they browse or purchase on their Facebook Wall. When building social apps, merchants should allow followers to control how much information is automatically shared — and message that flexibility prominently, as J.C. Penney does when inviting followers to download its app. Followers can use a drop-down menu to select who sees app activity, with the option of “Only Me” available if they don’t want to share the information at all.
What tactics do you use to allay shoppers’ privacy concerns on social and mobile sites and other cutting-edge brand outposts?