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Information-based differentiation by e-retailers on the Internet: Effects on consumer trust and product choice

Опубликовано на портале: 25-12-2003
Подтип: PhD
Тематические разделы: Менеджмент, Маркетинг

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.