The Future of E-Commerce: Big, Complex Transactions Made Easy
BY Will Yakowicz
Will customers ever be comfortable shelling out $10,000 online? They will if companies inspire more trust. Here are four ways to do it.
Trust in e-commerce has been getting stronger, but companies still a long way to go before customers are willing to make a $100,000 purchase online.
Going on eBay, Etsy, Zappos, or Amazon and spending $10 to $100 is no big deal. Catching a $20 ride with Uber, or renting a room on Airbnb is relatively low risk. But currently there's no place online where people feel comfortable enough to spend the big bucks. And here lies an opportunity for entrepreneurs, Boris Wertz, founder of Version One Ventures, writes on his blog.
"There's an enormous opportunity for marketplaces to emerge that handle high-value, complex transactions," he says. "However, to find success, they'll need to make customers feel comfortable reducing the high-ticket purchase and complex deliverable to a few clicks."
User reviews can help a vendor's reputation and VeriSign and McAfee logos can make people feel safer. But what else can you do to inspire trust? Below, find Wertz's four suggestions:
Offer more information.
If you want customers to feel more comfortable to make bigger purchases, you have to start providing more information. They need to know everything about the product or service, considering they cannot inspect it, test it out, or truly know if it's real or fake. "If you're buying a book online, the ISBN and a rough description of the condition is usually enough information for you to feel comfortable making the purchase. But what about booking a wedding photographer? In this case, you'd want to see his/her portfolio, numerous reviews for previous clients, and possibly a write-up of the photographer's approach and style," Wertz writes.
Make big transactions easy.
If making a complex transaction is easier, more reliable, and safer in person, why would anyone want to venture online? Big transactions need to become uniquely easy, Wertz says. "Professional services companies are increasingly looking to create boxed offerings that include pre-defined scope, pricing, duration, deliverables, results, and other relevant parameters," he writes. "The 'productization of services' helps speed up traditionally lengthy sales cycles, and enables customers to complete complex transactions in a few clicks."
Cater to the inexperienced buyer.
How does your site help first-timers make decisions during the purchase process? You need to provide help before they ask, or worse, before they decide to get up from the computer and venture off in the physical world. "Offer project planners, cost calculators, instant messaging before and during the sale," Wertz recommends.
If customers feel like there is a risk to their purchase, they will not go through with it. You need to reduce risk and take the pressure off the sale--ease the customer's mind. "Just like online retailers have found success via free shipping/free return models, transactional marketplaces also need to reduce risk for the buyer--such as by offering full money-back guarantees with purchase," Wertz writes.
WILL YAKOWICZ is a reporter at Inc. magazine. He has covered business, crime, and politics at Patch.com, and his work has been published in Tablet Magazine and The Brooklyn Paper. He lives in Brooklyn, New York. @WillYakowicz