This paper develops and tests a model of consumer trust in an electronic commerce vendor. Building consumer trust is a strategic imperative for web-based vendors because trust strongly influences consumer intentions to transact with unfamiliar vendors via the web. Trust allows consumers to overcome perceptions of risk and uncertainty, and to engage in the following three behaviors that are critical to the realization of a web-based vendor's strategic objectives: following advice offered by the web vendor, sharing personal information with the vendor, and purchasing from the vendor's web site. Trust in the vendor is defined as a multi-dimensional construct with two inter-related components— trusting beliefs (perceptions of the competence, benevolence, and integrity of the vendor), and trusting intentions—willingness to depend (that is, a decision to make oneself vulnerable to the vendor). Three factors are proposed for building consumer trust in the vendor: structural assurance (that is, consumer perceptions of the safety of the web environment), perceived web vendor reputation, and perceived web site quality. The model is tested in the context of a hypothetical web site offering legal advice. All three factors significantly influenced consumer trust in the web vendor. That is, these factors, especially web site quality and reputation, are powerful levers that vendors can use to build consumer trust, in order to overcome the negative perceptions people often have about the safety of the web environment. The study also demonstrates that perceived Internet risk negatively affects consumer intentions to transact with a web-based vendor.
The Journal of Strategic Information Systems – Elsevier
Published: Dec 1, 2002
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