Now, more than ever, we’re seeing brands show their love by building trust with consumers, creating loyal, long-lasting relationships that result in big bucks for retailers. In January, intelligence firm Morning Consult released its list of the “Most Trusted Brands in America.” The firm conducted more than 16,000 interviews with U.S. consumers of all ages to learn how strong their relationships are with more than 2,000 domestic brands. The U.S. Postal Service topped the list, followed by Amazon, Google, PayPal, The Weather Channel, Chick-Fil-A, Hershey, UPS, and Cheerios. It’s worth noting that a majority of the brands who made the list are a minimum of 20 years old, giving them plenty of time to build strong relationships with these consumers.

Trust is the cornerstone of any relationship between customers and e-commerce retailers, but and especially important when it comes to cross-border selling. Consumers tend to be more trusting towards people and companies that are familiar or close to us geographically. We can also have a healthy dose of skepticism for the unknown. In relationships between consumers and brands, trust starts with recognition. 

For emerging cross-border e-commerce merchants, it’s likely that consumers in your new target market may not have heard of you before. But you don’t have 20+ years to build up that trust in your brand; you need to make an impact now. And if that’s the case, the first thing you will have to do is overcome skepticism. After all, consumers are putting their trust in your brand to offer goods at a competitive and transparent price, deliver purchases on time and cost-effectively, and deliver good customer service along the way. That’s no easy feat.

In our extensive global research report, Cross-Border E-commerce Trends, we uncovered new data regarding cross-border purchases, including that 21% of global consumers who have never made a cross-border purchase said they “do not trust cross-border retailers.”

Trust is an essential part of convincing consumers that you have the right offering for them and that you’re worthy of their business. Trustworthiness is always important, but it’s even more crucial when your business is making a first impression with customers in new markets. Building up trust when your brand is new on the scene can be a challenge at first, but it can also be a great opportunity to win market share from long-standing local players.

Know Your Customer

Before going cross-border, it’s critical to do the legwork and investigate whether consumers in your target market are open to shopping with international merchants. Which markets are more resistant than others? What are the barriers for consumers who have been reluctant to make cross-border purchases? Be sure to consult our Global Consumer Insights Report to provide guidance and to help you better understand how to make your online store look like it originates in your customers’ country.

Once you’ve defined your target customer(s), continue by gathering data about your local consumer base: 

  • What languages do they speak? 
  • What currencies are dominant there? 
  • Do they mainly shop online, or do they prefer brick-and-mortar stores? 
  • What types of devices are they using to shop online? 
  • How do they prefer to make online payments? 
  • What kind of delivery options do they expect (tiered shipping, free shipping, express, etc.)? 

Questions like these will help you understand your target market. Learning more about industry-specific categories is also important, such as luxury goods, sustainable fashion, and other sub-categories that are making an impact and driving purchasing decisions in various global regions.

Get Local

When you’re expanding to new markets, language and currency barriers can be a common issue. Most international consumers want to be able to contact customer service in their native language. They also want the ability to browse e-commerce sites with local displays, formats, payments, inventory catalogs, and more.

The ultimate goal of creating a localized presence in a target market is building consumer trust. Global consumers should never have to jump through hoops when trying to make a purchase from you. Clunky checkout interfaces that don’t display the local currency, the wrong or incomplete mix of local payment options, or lack of calculated taxes and duties will stop a transaction in its tracks. Do you have the infrastructure to support localization? If not, it’s time to make this a priority.

Provide Strong Customer Service

Cross-border e-commerce merchants must ensure that customers can reach out to brands on their terms. Depending on your target market’s preferences, this could be by phone, email, social media, online chat, or many combinations of these mediums. Even if you do your best to provide a detailed, accurate product description on your website, assume that customers will want to ask questions about availability, delivery, return policy, and so on. This is an opportunity for your brand to win customer confidence by demonstrating that you’re responsive to their questions and care about helping them. 

International consumers who shop online can be won over, provided that you present your brand the right way. Remember, these days, consumers are very concerned about product cost (including shipping), overall customer experience, and being able to easily find the items they want. If you can meet these expectations and demonstrate that you understand your cross-border customers’ unique needs and preferences, you will succeed at building trust.

Simply put, instilling confidence in your customers is the best way to cultivate loyal, repeat business.  You must show your customers that you care about and understand them. Make shopping with your brand a hassle-free, friendly, comfortable, and easy experience by catering to your target consumers’ cultural norms, consumer preferences, and customer service needs. 

Need help getting started? Flow is changing the way brands go global with its modular, flexible, end-to-end solution for cross-border e-commerce. Get in touch today and start building trust with your global customers.