The Generation of Trust in the Online Services and Product Distribution: The Case of Spanish Electronic Commerce

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

Not all countries have the same level of e-commerce penetration. This could be due to the influence of cultural factors on consumer trust with regard to online purchasing. This may also explain why countries like Spain, with similar economic and technological levels to its neighbours', have a lower level of e-commerce usage. This paper examines the antecedents of trust, and, the relationship between trust and consumer commitment in Spain. The results obtained show that the factors governing the development of online trust are similar to those detected in other countries. Specifically, the results show that consumer trust is influenced by perceived website usability and reputation, by the consumer satisfaction and by the perceived privacy and security policy of the website. This paper also verifies that consumer trust has a positive effect on consumer commitment. Besides, no significant differences are observed in the research model between online services and product distribution. Finally, managerial recommendations and future research lines are suggested.

Keywords: Trust, Culture, Commitment.

1. Introduction

The adoption of e-commerce varies from country to country. Some authors [e.g. Aqueveque & Fernández 2004] suggest that the adoption of new technologies is determined by two types of variables:

* Availability variables: variables related to a country's current and potential technological, infrastructural, economic, educational and demographic conditions.

* Cultural variables: referring to the various trends or orientations those countries may have in terms of their beliefs or values as a society.

Aqueveque and Fernández [2004] state that a country's cultural traits affect the development of e-commerce with impact levels equal to or more than economic, market or technological factors. If we consider that the availability variables in Spain (e.g. broadband penetration, number of computers and mobiles, internet use at work) are similar to those of countries with a higher e-commerce penetration rate [Eurostat 2010], it is reasonable to suppose that the cultural factors might be hampering e-commerce growth. In fact, it is significant that Spain's online share of retail trade figures (3.0%) are similar to those of economically and culturally similar countries, such as Italy (3.3%). On the other hand, Spain's figures are a long way from those of countries such as the United Kingdom (10.7%), Germany (8.0%) and Switzerland (7.4%) [Centre for Retail Research 2011], countries with different cultural values and approaches.

The literature has shown that culture plays a fundamental role in the development of trust [Suh, Janda & Seo 1987]. Similarly the relevance of trust in the adoption of e-commerce is widely acknowledged [e.g. Jarvenpaa et al. 2000; Schlosser et al. 2006].Trust appears in risky and vulnerable decisions and favours the reduction of perceived risk in the decision-making process, and it has been traditionally considered as a key element for the acquisition of a long-term, stable and profitable relationship [e.g. Garbarino & Johnson 1999; Geyskens & Steenkamp 1995]. Consequently, trust has become a strategic objective for a good many players in e-commerce, since the level of consumer trust is directly related to an individual's intention to purchase [Koufaris & Hampton-Sousa 2002] and, more specifically, with the degree of commitment shown by the purchaser [Mukherjee & Nath 2003].

In view of these aspects, it is important to analyse how trust is developed, bearing in mind each country's cultural differences, since antecedent factors of trust may depend on a country's cultural characteristics. In this respect, this paper analyses the elements that determine online trust in Spain.

The article suggests a model that replicates the factors that have most often been associated with online trust. With this model we assess whether factors tested in the Spanish case differ from those usually included in the earlier literature. …