Finding key to e-comm success

Online retailers are looking to take that extra step to assure customers of the safety of buying over the Internet.

Electronic transaction insurance company SafeTrade has expanded rapidly over the last 12 months, signing on around 38 new partners including online retailer estore, Image Computer Systems, Melbourne Computer Centre and

Another 30 sites are soon to be accredited. Only suitably secure sites carry the SafeTrade guarantee, according to CEO Pascal Brochier.

For Internet retailer estore, which has had the system integrated into its purchasing procedures since February, the system provides customers with extra peace of mind, particularly in regards to post-transaction service.

"A transaction automatically includes the SafeTrade option so when the customer places an order, they automatically get an e-mail confirming their order from estore, and they also get a separate e-mail from SafeTrade detailing the levels of insurance," said Steven Spilly, estore MD.

"The feedback from our customers is that they appreciate that level of service and that it comes from an independent company. I guess the drawback with e-commerce in comparison with traditional retailing is that after the transaction, the customer gets to walk out of the store with their goods," he said. On the Internet the customer can feel empty because they have to wait for goods once they have made a purchase, so the more confirmation they have the better."

In the face of slow retail sales, estore has bucked the trend, announcing record sales during September. The company has also changed hosts to give customers better site performance and added DVDs to its product range.

While Spilly feels reports of Internet fraud have been largely exaggerated, it is better to make the customer feel completely comfortable.

"I don't think Internet fraud has ever been the huge concern that the media make [it] out to be. From day one we have run successful credit card transactions, Spilly said. But it is vital to make the customer feel completely happy that they have placed an order."

He added: "Even if SafeTrade didn't offer the value add to customers that it does, we would still use them because it is all about perception. You can have a statement on your Web site but it is not the same."

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