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Hallmarks of a Trustworthy Online Shop – How to Shop Safely

Completing a purchase on the Internet requires trust in the online shop selected. However, not every website that sells products is reputable. So when can an online shop be trusted? What are the hallmarks of a credible seller? When should shoppers hear alarm bells ringing? The transparency of information provided, the use of quality seals and customer reviews, as well as the payment methods offered and the actual payment process are all useful indicators as to whether an online seller can be trusted.

7 Min.

If buyers trust online stores, they are convinced that the provider is reliable and that his offer is truthful. However, especially in the case of unknown stores, trust does not necessarily exist and people may be unsure whether the store and the seller can be trusted. There is a solution for this: there are clear signs by which a prospective buyer can recognize whether an online store is trustworthy or not. Online commerce consists of purchasing and selling transactions via the Internet. The transmission of data creates a direct business relationship between suppliers and buyers. However, e-commerce includes not only the sale of goods, but also, for example, other services in the area of customer service and online banking.

Checklist for Trustworthy Online Stores

  • Completeness and transparency (complete information on products, prices, shipping and delivery; complete imprint; understandable language; information on right of withdrawal, data protection and terms and conditions)
  • Easy accessibility
  • Confirmed seal of approval
  • Authentic reviews
  • Various payment methods, not all of which are prepayments
  • Clearly structured checkout process
  • Encrypted connection
  • Coherent URL

Completeness and Transparencey

A reputable online store provides its visitors with all the necessary and legally required information in an easily accessible and comprehensible manner. This includes, for example, transparent prices with VAT information, the indication of costs for shipping, delivery times and a complete naming of the operator in the imprint. In the latter, it can be checked, for example, whether there is a postal address and whether the store is based in Germany or Europe. There should also be a reference to the commercial register with the relevant number. This can be checked in case of doubt. A trustworthy online store includes a coherent overall appearance of the website with a clear structure and navigation as well as easy-to-understand language that does not sound like a bad translation. Customers must also be informed about their right of revocation and return, about data protection, and about the general terms and conditions (GTC). If these are missing, alarm bells should ring. Another indication of trustworthiness is, for example, also the possibility of tracking the shipment after the order.

Easy Accessibility

The simplicity of communication with customer service is another factor: A reputable store should always be easy to reach and answer questions in short ways and in an understandable manner. This can be, for example, help pages with frequently asked questions and easy ways of contacting such as real-time chats, reachable phone numbers or contact forms. If these features are not present in the online store, it should be treated with caution.

Reputable Quality Seals Provide Further Information

The fact that an online store is not a fake sales platform can also be recognized by means of (reputable) seals. For such seals of approval, online stores have to undergo comprehensive tests. They are awarded by an independent body and confirm a certain quality of a website. If all the quality criteria for certification are passed, the operator may display the seal of approval on its website and, depending on the seal, also offer buyer protection, for example. Fake stores like to include invented or copied cachets, although they have never been certified. To be sure that it is not an illegally used or invented seal, it should be checked by clicking on it. To do this, click on the opening trust card or the seal, which can be located in various places on the website, depending on the integration. By clicking on it, you can check whether it is linked to a certificate of the seal operator. For some seals, information on the up-to-dateness of the seal for the corresponding store is then also displayed. Without a corresponding link, it is likely to be a fake. If you are still unsure, you can check whether the store is listed on the seal's website. It is important to know that stores do not automatically receive these seals, but must apply for and pay for them.

Trusted Shops

The Trusted Shops seal of approval is awarded to online stores that meet or exceed all requirements for the security of personal data - and also offer very good service in the event of problems. In addition, the seal of approval offers the function for reviews of the store. Here you can check what experiences other buyers have had with service, delivery and products. Trusted Shops also offers buyer protection for each payment method. In the store search, it is possible to check whether the online store of choice is listed.

TÜV seal

The TÜV seal of approval "s@fer-shopping" is awarded to online stores when their quality in terms of security and transparency of processes is confirmed as highly trustworthy by an audit. The review is carried out on an ongoing annual basis. Here, too, it is possible to check on the website whether the online store displaying the seal is listed.

EHI certified online store

The "EHI Geprüfter Online-Shop" is a protected seal of quality for online stores, awarded by the EHI Retail Institute GmbH. The EHI seal examines online stores on the basis of a catalog of criteria with over 200 different evaluation criteria. If successful, the store is awarded the seal of approval. Here, too, there is also a rating function and a list of members.

Authentic Ratings and Experiences from Other Customers

In addition, ratings and reviews from other buyers can often provide information about the quality of an online store. Ratings are now being used more and more frequently when it comes to choosing a product or a provider. On the basis of a good or bad reputation and authentic reviews, a prospective customer can form a picture. However, here too, care must be taken to ensure that the comments are conclusive, as a lot can be manipulated at this point as well.

Different Payment Methods and Clear Checkout Process

The legitimacy and professionalism of an online store can also be recognized by the payment methods offered. Buyers should be informed about all payment methods at an early stage - more than payments in advance should be offered in any case. Fraudsters often use these to rip off customers. Characteristics of a serious ordering process can be, for example, a display of where you are, easy processing of the shopping cart and an overview of all order data, as well as the display of the logos of the payment methods offered. Likewise, information should be provided about data protection, to which explicit consent must be given.

Encrypted Connection and Coherent URL

Personal data must be entered during the checkout process. In addition to contact and address data, this may include sensitive payment information, for example. Therefore, data security should be offered by an encrypted connection. Trustworthy is for example a SSL encryption, which can be seen by the lock symbol in the browser bar. Another indication can also be a seal for a secure connection, for example. Examples are Trustwave, Norton Secured or Comodo. Last but not least, the URL can also be a warning sign for a fraudulent store - for example, if the URL does not match the content of the page.

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