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A Quick Guide to Online Trust

Customer experience is particularly complex in online environments due to the constraints of the virtual environment. Trust in a retailer is formed when the customer perceives minimal uncertainty associated with buying online. Trust is known to lead to favourable purchase intention, loyalty and WOM and is considered a significant variable in the success of a retailer.


To induce trust, online retailers have deployed various strategies, such as reviews to help eliminate perceived risk; also known as trust assurances. There are two types of Trust Assurances: general trust assurances provided by a third party and specific trust assurances provided by the retailer. External parties usually provide general assurances and offer peace of mind to the customer, such as Verisign, Norton Security. While specific trust assurances include all the factors, a retailer can control internally such as warranty and returns policy to delivery guarantees. Notably, certain products do not often qualify for returns, such as swimwear, and these goods may be associated with a higher risk online. Nonetheless, generally, retailers who display trust assurances are perceived as being more trustworthy by consumers. 


However, trust cannot be generated via trust assurances alone. Trust is often a two-dimensional stage. During the first stage, customers tend to have a cursory look around the website, searching for cues on the website to determine the trustworthiness of the retailer. The layout of the website may seem familiar to the consumer, which assist the establishment of trust in stage one. In the second stage, the customer evaluates specific trust-related issues such as returns related information and product information to help establish the genuineness of the retailer. 


Brand experience, brand trust and satisfaction all play a role in the generation of overall trust. Brand experience, in general, is gained from a degree of exposure to the brand. Brand familiarity is derived from the amount of brand associated experiences a consumer has undergone. Brand trust is the perceived reliability of a brand to fulfil a consumer’s needs and is influenced by brand familiarity and experience

Excerpted from: https://ore.exeter.ac.uk/repository/bitstream/handle/10871/39192/SinghN.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y

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