In the aftermath of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, we can see the continuing march of online retailers. Online sales, including mobile sales, have significantly increased over the past year. Online retail sales are fast, easy, and convenient. But most importantly they have gained the trust of the public. As commercial insurance contemplates greater use of e-commerce sales, it is important for insurers to consider the lessons of trust they can learn from retailers:

  1. Wisdom of Crowds: Strong e-commerce sites display how many customers have purchased and reviewed the product, helping customers gain confidence in their process. Insurance buyers would have more confidence in carriers if they understood that the amount of insurance they were buying was right for their businesses and similar to what companies like theirs had bought.
  1. Transparent Ratings: Sites such as Amazon offer simple star-based rating systems with the full list of reviews available so customers can understand the source of the ratings. Carriers could share similar ratings based not just on products purchased but on the service they provide to their customers.
  1. Verified Reviews: With reviews playing such a huge role in online buying decisions, fake reviews have become a problem. Strong retailers such as Amazon are fighting back with artificial intelligence (AI) solutions and verified purchasers to help keep confidence in their reviews.
  1. Intelligent Support: Based on analytics and AI, retail sites can offer other suggested products that complement the main purchase. Insurance can offer customers the same thing with related products or risk-prevention services informed by data.
  1. Transparent Processes: In addition to credible review systems, retailers have boosted trust in the buying process by making the whole operation transparent. Customers know that orders are confirmed, can see where they are in the process, and can track the orders to their homes. Carriers need to be able to offer similar transparency with respect to policies, ID cards, and claims.
  1. Trust: Finally, retailers back up the buying experience with guarantees that the customer will be satisfied. These include no-hassle returns or fast replacement for lost items. Carriers need to figure out if there is a similar feature they can offer to customers to get them over their fear of the online buying decision.

If the industry is going to drive digital sales, carriers need to match or exceed every successful technique they can copy from online retailers. Just offering to sell a policy online won’t be sufficient.

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