In frictionless commerce, your customer’s journey hits four key stages: Trust, Find, Buy, and Get. 

Why do we lead with trust? Because trust is a driver for long-term revenue growth. It influences customers to complete their transaction, return to purchase again, and feel confident buying and spending more.

Trust also intersects with every stage of the buyer’s journey. When you get trust right, many other frictionless commerce elements fall into place. 

Customer Trust Impacts Cost, Retention, and CLV

You’ve likely seen the statistic that acquiring a new customer costs 5x more than retaining an existing one. But as Forbes argues, measuring “cost” may be the wrong focus. Instead, “Companies that consider the potential of a customer—for the future—are much better off.”

They’re talking about customer lifetime value (CLV), or building loyalty with customers that increasingly buy and spend more. And that hinges on trust. 

In a frictionless commerce journey, your customer trusts that they can find, buy, and get the items they want, where they want to receive them, paid for in the way they want, and—if necessary—seamlessly returned.

When you create trust with customers, the momentum starts to build. With each cycle, their CLV goes up and your costs go down. 

How Do You Build Customer Trust?

Trust isn’t about one thing. As we mentioned, it intersects with every part of the customer journey. 

The list below details eight ways to build trust as you deliver a frictionless commerce experience. Some areas are table stakes, while others are more likely to give you a competitive edge. 

#1: Provide Customers with Order Status Updates

We’re all accustomed to having information at our fingertips and expect the same with our purchases. An order confirmation is table stakes. But real-time visibility into order status—even down to the micro level—will differentiate the experience.  

Providing detailed information tells your customers that your business is reliable and accountable. This transparency helps remove the risk of buying and improves customer trust.

The bonus? Automated notifications also cut costs. With better order management, you’ll spend fewer resources on inquiries and complaints. And, if there are any issues, you’ll have quick access to the information you need to resolve them.

#2: Simplify the Returns Process

Returns is an area where you can truly differentiate your brand. Customers expect easy returns, yet many brands struggle to get the process right (especially for online orders).

How can you make reverse logistics simpler for your customers? Our partner Fluent Commerce offers this advice:

  • Don’t make people jump through hoops to return a product. 
  • Offer a generous return period and state clearly and visibly what it is.
  • Offset the frustration of returning an item with free return shipping. 
  • Let your customers return items via parcel pick-up points as well as in-store. 

When you eliminate the risk and hassles of returns, you build goodwill and loyalty with your customers. 

#3: Provide Omnichannel Customer Support

How will you quickly resolve customer issues? Or answer questions about products, orders, shipments, or returns? Create multiple channels to deliver excellent customer support. 

One component is the channel itself, which should be powered by or connected to your commerce platform. Access to live chat, email support, WhatsApp, and chatbots are proven to increase sales and improve customer trust (when done correctly). 

The other element is access to accurate data. Your representatives will need up-to-date customer data and product information—as well details on item availability, orders, and store locations—to deliver support that fosters trust and customer happiness.

#4: Deliver On Your Promises

You can attract customers with a variety of incentives like one-day shipping and personalized promotions. But the fastest way to lose their business? Fail to keep your promises.

According to a survey conducted by Fluent, 56% of U.S. consumers and 41% of U.K. consumers are likely to never shop with a retailer again if their order is delayed.  

To avoid friction and disappointment, you’ll need to: 

  • Offer reliable options for fast shipping and delivery.
  • Ensure you don’t oversell (and have to cancel orders).
  • Keep customers informed at each stage of fulfillment.
  • Be equipped to automatically reroute orders if an item isn’t available.

Ultimately, keeping your promises requires order management and warehouse management systems that provide inventory visibility, accuracy, and control.  

#5: Ensure PCI Compliance 

The ability to securely pay for online purchases is core to customer trust. The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) helps makes this possible. 

To gain PCI DSS certification, you’ll need to comply with specific requirements — like firewalls, password protection, data encryption, scanning and testing for vulnerabilities, properly updated software, and more. 

PCI compliance is certainly table stakes for any e-commerce business. It also speaks to the larger issue of site security and performance, which brings us to our next few steps.

#6: Reduce Site Downtime and Errors

The truth is that every website has performance issues. But bugs can cause customers to lose trust in your site and quickly click away. Major retailer Nordstrom, for example, saw online sales dip 11% when its website slowed by just half a second.

Accessibility is also a concern. Over two-thirds of websites have critical accessibility blocks, causing e-commerce shoppers with disabilities to click away at a rate of 71%. 

Earning your customer’s trust means limiting downtime and bugs and providing an inclusive experience. You’ll need 24/7 site monitoring, with the ability to detect bugs and blockers, prioritize resolution, implement and test fixes, and analyze the results. 

#7: Maintain Customer Data Privacy 

It’s been years since the EU’s GDPR landed, but the ripple effect continues. The mandate triggered an influx of privacy laws and new requirements to understand and follow. 

While cumbersome at times, GDPR compliance brings hidden advantages. For one thing, your data must be well-managed to comply. So, the data management best practices you establish for GDPR can also improve your workflow processes, data quality, and data security.

Meeting the GDPR mandate is also linked to a better brand reputation. As consumers become savvier and more data-aware, they seek out companies that take privacy seriously. Achieving GDPR compliance is a tangible way to show that you’re committed to protecting customer data and earning their trust. 

#8: Have a Plan for Fraud Management 

Finally, you can’t discuss customer trust without mentioning cybersecurity. A single security breach can significantly damage your brand and reputation.  

Every e-commerce business needs a plan for fraud management that keeps pace with the sophistication of cybercriminals. Dark actors are continually finding new and unique ways to inflict cyberattacks. Thankfully, the technology is evolving, too. Behavioral AI and machine learning can help businesses detect, prevent, and respond to threats in real-time.   

Addressing cybersecurity is table stakes. But the level of sophistication you use is certainly a differentiator in protecting your customers and your business. 

Are Your Systems Built for Trust?

To foster customer trust, you need tightly integrated systems that ensure all capabilities work as intended and promised. 

Not sure where you stand? Here are a few questions to consider:

  • Is there friction that would cause your buyer to bounce or abandon their cart?
  • Do your customers feel comfortable sharing their data? And can they trust you’ll keep their transactions secure? 
  • Once an order is placed, do your customers feel confident that you’ll keep your promises? 
  • Can you easily update your systems as customer needs or privacy regulations change?
  • Are you equipped to make the necessary upgrades without adding to your technical debt?  

If the answers are hard to find—or you know you have gaps—there may be friction standing in the way of building customer trust.

How to Adopt Frictionless Commerce

So, how do you fix friction points and improve customer trust? Applying piecemeal solutions is one approach. For example, you could add live chat or an order tracking tool. 

Unfortunately, most providers only handle a piece of the puzzle. This typically drives up your total cost of ownership and may not move the needle on overall trust or CLV. 

Pivotree takes a different approach. We are the only provider that designs, builds, and manages solutions for every part of the frictionless commerce experience. 

We’re also masters at integrating the applications you need, so you can deliver frictionless experiences without adding to your technical debt. 

To learn more about our vision and approach, visit our frictionless commerce resource page. 

Stay tuned: The Customer Journey series will continue as we explore Find, Buy, and Get.