How to Legitimize Your New Online Store Before the Holiday Rush

Jessica Thiefels
Jessica Thiefels
Guest Contributor

Before the holidays sneak up on you, it’s important to legitimize your brand and your e-commerce site just as you did for your brick-and-mortar stores, and a critical few ideas create trust among consumers while building a brand shoppers will come back to well after the holidays are over.

Global e-commerce retail conversion rates in Q4 of 2017 were 3.15 percent, compared to Q2 of 2018, at 2.86 percent, according to Smart Insights’ quarterly report. While the holiday season drives more consumer spending than any other time of the year, new online sites fight an increasingly uphill battle. Lesser-known brands must compete against established brands who have built trust among shoppers. What’s more, consumers ranked “I trust the brand” as the second most common reason for shopping with a particular retailer, according to PwC.

That doesn’t mean you can’t take your piece of the pie. Instead, focus on how you can legitimize your new online presence, and overall brand – including your brick and mortar stores – before the holiday rush begins. Use these tips and ideas to drive brand trust both online and off and have a lucrative holiday season.

Add Testimonials

Testimonials and reviews can make a huge impact on the legitimacy of your brand; 85 percent of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, according to Bright Local’s 2017 Local Consumer Review Survey. What’s more, the same survey found that 73 percent of consumers trust a brand more if they read positive reviews.

Use your testimonials to legitimize your brand online and offline. Place them on product pages, the checkout page and your homepage – and don’t forget to use them in your email marketing too. The 2018 Consumer Email Survey from Adobe found consumers prefer to be contacted by brands via email, so your testimonials may be most effective when shared through this medium.

Finally, remember to share your testimonials on social media as well. Create a graphic to share on Instagram or post a testimonial on Facebook with a link to the related product. Whatever your preferred marketing method, don’t forget about the power of your testimonials this holiday season.

Host an In-Store Event

An in-store event not only provides offline social proof – ”Look at all those people in that store!” – but it helps to boost your brand overall and encourages word of mouth marketing. Turns out, this word of mouth marketing is the most effective method for driving sales in the retail industry, according to 2017 data from Engagement Labs. They explain, “The volume of real world conversations about brands continues to dwarf the conversations that take place on social media, often by a factor of five to one.”

Instead of hoping your customers will talk on their own, give them a reason to with an in-store holiday event. With a venue secured (your store), you can focus on making it fun and exciting for those who attend.

To increase the likelihood of a great experience, focus on what your customers would love most. If your audience is made up of late 20’s to early 30’s women, perhaps a Friday Shopping Happy Hour would draw more interest than a Hot Chocolate Party, which might be better for families. Even better, host your event on Black Friday so you can use the holiday to drive excitement and earn more sales.

Improve Your Payment Security

With an onslaught of data breaches in recent years, consumers are more wary than ever to share their credit card information – especially with new or unfamiliar e-commerce brands. In fact, Baymard’s Checkout Usability study found that 18 percent of users abandoned their cart because consumers “didn’t trust the site with their credit card information.”

To combat this challenge, 5 Secrets to Selling Products Online suggests, “Show that your site is secure and verified by trusted third parties like Symantec or McAfee. If you are planning on handling credit card information, your website or blog will need to be on a secure server and PCI compliant.”

While many online platforms already have this compliance built-in, you must handle it on your own if you purchased your own domain. Once completed, you’re not only safe from potential fines, but customers know that they’re safe to shop with you. Not to mention, it helps protect you from a costly crisis that would be detrimental to your brand. Remember that your in-store location needs to be compliant as well – and that compliance doesn’t automatically transfer from your brick-and-mortar location to your website or vice versa.

Start with this FAQ from PCI Compliance Guide. There are four merchant levels for compliance, based on total number of annual sales; use this guide to figure out what level of compliance is required of you and how to get set up.

Legitimize Your New Online Store Now

Quick, before the holidays sneak up on you – legitimize your brand and your e-commerce site to earn more sales during the shopping season. Use these ideas to drive trust among consumers while building a brand people will come back to, well after the holidays are over.

Jessica Thiefels is founder and CEO of Jessica Thiefels Consulting. She’s been writing for more than 10 years and has been featured in top publications like Forbes and Business2Community. She also regularly contributes to Virgin, Business Insider, and more. Follow her on Twitter @JThiefels and connect on LinkedIn.

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