Information-based differentiation by e-retailers on the Internet: Effects on consumer
trust and product choice
Опубликовано на портале: 25-12-2003
Extant literature suggests that establishing trust is an important antecedent to
developing longer-term exchange relationships. In the Internet context, due in part
to the temporal and spatial separation between buyers and sellers, developing initial
trust with customers is an added challenge. Despite the importance of developing
trust with consumers and the added difficulty of developing initial
trust over the Internet, there is limited research in this area. This dissertation
examines information as an initial trust-building cue. The rationale is that since
information needs are dynamic and variable across consumers, the task of maintaining
current and relevant information is a challenging endeavor for e retailers, providing
them a potentially sustainable competitive advantage if they do so. On the other
hand, as the Internet matures, other initial trust-building cues like site security
certifications and information privacy guarantees are likely to become commonplace.
Thus, such cues are less likely to remain sources of sustainable competitive advantage
for new e-retailers. Given that information needs vary between consumers, the salience
of specific information will be different between consumers. One variable that explains
differences in information search and processing is consumer involvement in the product
category. Involvement is expected to moderate various relationships between information
type and trust. Attribution theory provides an explanation of why the provision of
salient product information is likely to improve the consumer's trust in the e-retailer.
The relationships proposed in this dissertation were investigated through a web-based
consumer choice experiment. Respondents were randomly assigned to one of several
hypothetical e-retailer websites. Product-related information was varied across the
various versions of the websites. The respondents completed choice tasks at their
assigned website and their perceptions of e-retailer trustworthiness were recorded.
Trust cues other than product-related information cues were controlled for. The results
provide partial support for the hypothesized relationships.