I recently came across an ad from a web design company that explained how having a website adds to a brand’s legitimacy because it makes a brand more trustworthy.
They usually talk about how having a website makes a brand look more professional or believable, which you can find in almost any post that touches on this topic.
But nowadays, it is becoming quite a norm for people to shop at Instagram stores or even at merchants on Shopee or Lazada, many of which don’t even have a website.
Now, businesses can choose not to have a website for many reasons, such as the excessive cost of getting one professionally designed, or simply because they find it unnecessary, and it is often argued that this refusal to invest in a website will cost them their legitimacy. .
But here are 6 reasons why we would say the opposite.
1. Websites might have biased ratings
On a brand’s website, your customers are unlikely to get a rating of less than 4 stars on their products.
There is no way to tell if these ratings are true or not, and if they even adjusted them to not look perfect (5 stars) but more than enough (above 4 stars).
On top of that, most of these reviews come from people who you can’t verify were actual customers (Amy S., who?), Whereas when compared to an ecommerce site, these reviews are mostly left by people with real accounts that you can easily click on. On sites like Instagram and Facebook, too, you would see angry comments or reactions if a brand had unhappy customers, and fake reviews can be easily spotted (they’re usually way too superficial and too high profile).
While a merchant can have full control over what and how they want their site to be presented, potential customers will be more interested in how legitimate customers have rated these products, and realistically not all will be in the 4.5 to 4.8 star safe range.
2. Customers like to compare products for the best deal
Consumers love choices. The more options, the better. But the comparisons don’t stop at price, brand, perceived product quality, etc. We also like to compare reviews.
As mentioned earlier, consumers, especially if they are a first-time buyer, find it helpful to learn more about what past customers have said about their purchases.
If I am new to buying matcha powder, it would be difficult for me to decide which brand of matcha powder to buy if I were to read reviews on their own websites, which are generally positive.
While on Shopee or Lazada, I would see unbiased reviews of different brands and products that speak a lot more in terms of legitimacy. On top of that, I can compare them based on how many bad reviews each one gets and if there are any often.
3. A brand’s engagement on social media is transparent
For stores with only social media like Instagram and Facebook as their online presence, comments, likes and any form of engagement is another way to measure a brand’s legitimacy and trustworthiness.
While it’s easy to buy likes, it’s harder to buy comments because it’s not too hard to tell a fake and a real social media account apart. Plus, a brand should really despair of setting up a bunch of fake accounts to interact with their page, or bribing people into doing so.
Therefore, seeing comments (which aren’t necessarily in-depth reviews of a product or service) and shares from real people on social media can boost my confidence in a brand because it shows people enough like the brand to make it happen. ‘engage with it, giving it as well. more legitimacy.
Engagement doesn’t always have to be positive, either. When people are unhappy they’re not afraid to let it know, especially online, so even if a brand’s page turns off comments, you’re bound to see shares associated with unhappy captions.
To add, if a website has rave reviews on their products, you can probably gauge what their customers are really thinking by taking a quick look at their social media. If a brand isn’t really liked, you’re likely to see unhappy comments or little to no engagement (which would be odd if they had a volume of reviews on their website).
4. Product images on a brand’s website only show them at their best
On branded websites, you only see their products in their brightest and best versions. Let’s go back to the example of buying matcha powder. A site can show me how green their matcha powder is, but will I get exactly what I see? Questionable.
However, on ecommerce sites where merchants have a review section, you can see images of the actual appearance of these products in their generally unaltered forms. Who the hell would take the time to beautifully edit their photos in a 5 minute review, especially if you aren’t paid to promote the product?
And even if someone were to post a review with edited images, chances are it would be one of the few, and the majority would be unedited images, giving you a more authentic feel of the product.
This is also one of the advantages of ecommerce sites, as most branded websites do not allow reviews with images attached, making it harder to believe that the reviewers actually made the purchase.
It is interesting to note, however, that some of my colleagues do not think that these images are sufficient to assess the quality of a product. Things like furniture and clothing are products that they still prefer to physically experience before making a purchase, which is fair especially for sales where the items are non-refundable.
5. Sales volume can also influence perceived legitimacy
One thing that websites often don’t show is their sales volume. For those who do, they can claim to have sold X number of their products or to have had Y number of customers, but with full control over what they are showing, they can easily change those numbers.
On the flip side, ecommerce sites like Shopee and Lazada actually show you how many units of a product have been sold, and those stats aren’t easily changed by a merchant. If a product list has high ratings and a large volume of sales made, customers are more likely to make the purchase.
6. Brand verification is an asset for legitimacy
Another thing that makes me more confident in a store (especially on ecommerce sites) is its verification badge. This means that the e-commerce site is confident enough in the quality of its products and services to recognize the brand.
For example, on Shopee, the equivalent is the “Favorite Seller” badge that you can find under a product. This badge is only given to merchants with a certain number of net orders in the last 30 days, a high frequency of chat responses, a clean penalty record, etc.
This is legitimacy that its own website cannot provide without impartiality, nor will a brand be held to the same level of liability from a third party like Shopee.
My boss shared this shared feeling about her experience of not getting a refund she was eligible for, despite the brand’s site promising a full refund for those who meet the criteria and the product already returned to the seller as well.
I have also had my fair share of issues with shopping on branded websites, for example when I bought 2 clothes from a fast fashion company in different materials than what was stated on the site.
I once bought a satin skirt in a ribbed fabric from a brand’s website and couldn’t return it because the team themselves weren’t responsive.
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With these arguments I’m not saying that brands shouldn’t have a website at all because that doesn’t add anything to their legitimacy. It’s just that having one isn’t the most important thing for a brand these days.
Ideally, a brand would have a website to tell customers more about the people behind it and their story, as well as social media pages to engage with their customers.
Does a brand need a specially designed website to look legitimate? We would say no, and there are plenty of more affordable options that can work for growing brands through website builders like Wix and Squarespace today.
Of course, brands can start to see the limits of these options once they reach a certain scale of operations, and maybe that’s when they can consider designing a bespoke website. because they would have the capital to invest in it by then. too much.
- You can read more opinion pieces we’ve written here.
Featured Image Credit: Vulcan Post
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