14 October 2006

eCommerce is harder without a brand name

Yesterday I had a little dig at Tesco - but as the most successful retailer in the UK, I doubt that they will worry much about what I said. My point was that Tesco has a great brand name and that counts for a lot at the point that site visitors are making up their minds whether or not to make a purchase. That trust remains even when the site in question isn't very efficient, which happened to be the case on the sale of computer games to my son.

Today's morning news headlines were filled with a story about identity theft - one of a series of press and TV items which almost certainly discourage the less confident from handing over their card details to an eCommerce site. So what can the site developer do to get those card details if they lack the brand trust and integrity of Tesco? One of the problems is that many of the people who feel discouraged by this kind of media emphasis wouldn't recognise what a security padlock means at the bottom of the page or understand what the impact of encryption is on their transaction.

For me this means that the unbranded site has to focus on trust. That trust has to be based on human qualities, not technological features. Use testimonials from people which get over the message that the site operator supplies what he says, and does so promptly. If the site fails to establish sufficient trust then any content directed towards the products or services is unlikely to make sales. Of course the content on the products or services are absolutely essential to get indexed in the search engines, so there is a very careful balance to be struck here.

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