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Nine Things Your Shop Website Must Include To Support Your Customers

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Today’s episode is all about the things your website MUST HAVE in order to make your customers feel comfortable shopping with you. There are key things that I see missing from so many websites that will make your customers WORRY about purchasing from your store. 

You also have legal obligations to include certain things on your website. These are dictated by the FTC, and now other governing bodies are requiring other things which I’m sure you’ve heard about before, like GRPD and the newer California laws. 

Confession time. I can think of 2 times recently when I’ve purchased online and never received what I paid for. 

As a web designer for e-commerce business, I should know better. But as a human, it’s easy to get caught up in what I’m looking for and not paying attention to the details. 

I want to share these stories with you though because as a shop owner it’s your JOB and responsibility to make sure that your customers are taken care of. We don’t want them to worry and be nervous about shopping with you. Your customers should feel confident shopping with you! 

The first was when I purchased a plugin for a client project. It was less than 50 bucks. Typically, these are direct downloads but the email never came. When I reached out to the developer they never replied and I tried many times. 

During this time I started to realize the website had so many red flags, which are some of the things we are going to be talking about today. 

The second was more recently. My husband and I were looking for a certain product and found it for like ⅓ of the price on a random website. This time I looked for those red flags, but we still ended up scammed. When we went to check on the estimated shipping date, the website was gone and the web address from our bank statement didn’t match the email confirmation. 

As a society, we’ve moved past the fear of online shopping but that doesn’t mean the scams have gone away. Part of the reason why consumers will shop with big retailers like Amazon or Walmart is because they know they don’t have to worry about whether they are getting ripped off or not.

So we are going to talk about the requirements your website needs and some of things you should include on your website to make people feel confident. 

Let me also clarify that I’m not a lawyer and this is not legal advice. Please do your own homework. 

PRIVACY POLICIES 

As of 2020, this is becoming more and more important. You have to tell people what information you collect from them and what you are doing with the information. This is to protect your customers. 

If you have an email list option, if you are using google analytics, if you are using a Facebook pixel, if people use a shopping cart on your website, YOU ARE COLLECTING INFORMATION. 

You must disclose this and include a privacy policy. This is an FTC regulation in the United States. Recently the state of California added more stipulations to their regulations. And a few years ago, the European Union required more in-depth steps, like requiring a notification that your site uses cookies, which is one-way websites collect information from the user. 

The thing to remember about this is that these regulations are to protect USERS/ BUYERS! So it doesn’t matter where you are, if you have customers in the EU you are still obligated to follow their regulations. 

In my opinion, I think these policies are only going to get more important and these types of regulations will be more prominent. So it’s a good idea to stay on top of them. 

You can use a generator, Shopify has a great generator at https://www.shopify.com/tools/policy-generator

Or purchase a template from a lawyer, this is what I did for my own policies. I purchased a complete contract including Privacy Policy and Terms and Conditions from The Contract Shop.* This is an affiliate link.

Or have them created by a lawyer specifically for you. 

One thing to note, is that with the generator, the legal disclaimer says “you should consult independent legal advice before publishing these agreements.”

Which is why I went the route of buying a template from The Contract Shop, which was created by Christina Scalera, who is a lawyer. I personally wanted that added level of peace of mind. I have included the direct link to her privacy policy and terms and conditions bundle. *this is an affiliate link.

If you need more information on privacy policies, this is a great resource from Hubspot

If you really want to dig into all of these regulations, you can visit https://www.ftc.gov/ for all of the federal regulations and laws. 

TERMS AND CONDITIONS

Your website should also have a terms and conditions page. Although they are not legally required, Terms and Conditions are meant to limit your liability and protect your property. You definitely want to include them on your site for extra protection. 

Again you use a generator https://www.shopify.com/tools/policy-generator/terms-and-conditions, purchase from a template which I shared in the show notes, or work with a lawyer. 

CONTACT INFORMATION 

Did you know that depending on your payment processor you must have contact information publicly listed on your website? Yep. 

Recently PayPal added to their own terms and conditions, that merchants must include a phone number and email address on their website. 

You’re going to want to review the T&C from all of your payment processors and make sure you are following their regulations. 

This step is to protect you, in the event of a chargeback. This is when a customer does a return through the payment processor instead of a return through you, the payment processor will be looking for these types of things.

This is also one of the things that will make shoppers feel confident purchasing from you online. The need to be easily able to find a phone number or email address. 

You should also have a contact form so that people can easily send you a message if they have questions or problems. 

Pro-tip. If you only have a cell phone and don’t want people to have your actual phone number you can get a free Google Voice phone number. Just search for Google Voice, it’s really easy to set up. 

Those are the three biggest things your website must have to cover your obligations, whether it is the law or required by your payment processors. 

Then there is a longer list of things you need to have on your website to make your shoppers feel comfortable and confident shopping with you. But honestly, these things are easy. 

STORE POLICIES 

These are things like your returns policy, how long it takes an order to ship, what happens if the product is damaged or lost in transit. You should have a page on your website dedicated to these questions. Not only will your customers feel more comfortable when they place your order, but it also releases you from feeling like you need to cater to every problem that pops, even when they are out of your control. 

The more transparent you are about how things work the less work you will have to do to please customers. It’s also going to eliminate a ton of emails asking the same questions over and over again. 

SHIPPING LOCATIONS

Similar to contact info, but when you include something as simple as “ship from Washington state” or make it cute with an icon. This is also one of those things that helps set expectations from your customers. 

CUSTOMER REVIEWS

I’ve mentioned reviews on this podcast a bunch of times already, they are just that important. 

When potential customers see reviews from other people that assures them, yes, other people have gotten this product and it fit well or the colors were better in person. It gives them peace of mind when they place their own order. 

It’s even better when you have a photo of the person or the user submits a photo with their review. It makes it feel more real. 

On the flip side, reviews are really helpful for you. Imagine if you started getting reviews back that said the packaging was damaged when it arrived. This is something that could easily be fixed by upgrading your packaging, but a lot of times people won’t give you that feedback unless you ask for it. 

Asking for reviews and feedback gives you an opportunity to improve your customer’s experience. 

Also, reviews are really good for SEO. Just sayin’ 

SOCIAL MEDIA

In the year of 2020, your website should have a link to your social media channels. Social media has given businesses and customers an amazing opportunity to get to know each other in a way that wasn’t really possible before and it makes building a community of loyal customers easier than ever. 

Social media also gives people who aren’t ready to purchase a low commitment way to follow you. From my personal experience, I can tell you I’m way more open to follow someone on Instagram than I am to sign up for their email list. And for you as a business owner, it can help your business stay top of mind for your dream customers. 

EMAIL SIGN UP FORM

Now I just mentioned that people are more likely to follow on social media, than sign up for your emails. And that’s especially true if you don’t even have a freaking opt-in form on your website. Too many times I’ll do a website review or audit and see a shop without the option to even sign up for emails. 

What year is it again? 

You need to have sign up forms on your website. In multiple places. 

The idea of an opt-in is complicated. I get it. We’ll have to dig into ideas for opt-ins later. 

But even just a box that says, “hey do you want to sign up for emails”, is better than nothing at all.

Just in case you haven’t heard the term opt-in before, that’s just what we call it when you give something in exchange for getting an email address. It can be like free shipping when you sign up for emails, or 10% off your first purchase, or a free gift with purchase. 

CONSISTENT BRANDING

The last thing I want to talk about is having consistent branding on your entire website. This is one of web designer pet peeves.

A lot of times I’ll see a website with a beautiful home page and the shop looks really nice, but then I move to the checkout or cart page and it’s totally different colors. 

My assumption is that someone set up their website and spent all their time getting the perfect home page and forgot to finish the settings for the rest of the site. So these other pages are the colors of the demo site. 

As a consumer, when I see this it makes me stop and think, wait, am I on the same website? What just happened? 

It’s important to make sure that your branding is consistent through your customers’ entire shopping experience. When you pay attention to those details it makes them feel like you thought of everything. Which, of course, can lead to a great review! 

If this topic of branding is intriguing for you, then you’ll definitely want to check out episode 3 with Shaina Longstreet of Your Ampersand Studio. We dive deep into the topic of branding and customer touchpoints. It’s one of the most popular episodes so far. 

And with that, we’ve finished my list of things your website needs to have to support your customers. When it comes down to it, if you have all of the things on your website, it’s going to make your website appear very professional and trustworthy, which is the goal anyway.

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