Academic journal article Journal of International Technology and Information Management

Online Trust Cues: Perceptions and Application

Academic journal article Journal of International Technology and Information Management

Online Trust Cues: Perceptions and Application

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

This qualitative study analyzes perceptions of online trust cues as identified by shoppers from three countries: Germany, Russia, and the USA. A novel approach of the repertory grid method is used to study online trust cues in business-to-consumers commercial online transactions. This study resulted in the list of web site elements and features that consumers recognize as trust cues and use to evaluate e-vendor's trustworthiness.

Findings show that out of fourteen categories of online trust cues, identified by online shoppers, three categories of online trust cues are found to be common across three cultures while eleven categories are culture specific.

This exploratory study was done in the natural environment but participants did not buy a product. They only examined web sites to evaluate perceived trustworthiness. Hence, one has to be cautious in drawing final conclusions and applying them from a sample to a general population

Keywords: online trust, online trust cues, perceptions, e-commerce

INTRODUCTION

The virtual nature of e-commerce creates both opportunities and risks for online sellers and buyers. Online sellers welcome the opportunity to expand their markets worldwide but face fierce competition. Establishing long-term customer relationships based on trust and loyalty has proved to be a successful business strategy. In attempts to attract and retain global customers, e-vendors signal their trustworthiness through web design elements. These signals are directed to the customers, regardless of the country in which they live. The ability to shop across traditional physical borders, and purchase foreign products from the convenience of home, appeals to a growing number of consumers; however, online buyers are cautious about which online stores they can trust.

This research focuses on the first phase of developing online trust--identification and interpretation of online trust cues as recognized by shoppers from three different countries (Germany, Russia, and the United States). A repertory grid research technique was implemented and, as a result, fourteen categories of online trust cues were identified and compared across three cultures.

The primary purpose of this study is to analyze which web site elements and features customers from three different cultures identify as online trust cues. The study concentrates on business-to-consumer online transactions conducted on commercial web sites. It focuses on finding the answers to the following questions:

- What online trust cues do customers seek in a commercial web site when they form their perception about that web site's trustworthiness?

- To what extent do perceptions of online trust cues differ across cultures?

This paper starts with a brief review of the theoretical background for this research. Then, a description of the repertory grid technique, its origins and its use follow to explain this study's methodology. The main part of the paper presents results of the study and discussion leads to the concluding sections that explain methodological, empirical and practical contribution of this research. Also discussed are limitations and implications for future research.

THEORETICAL BACKGROUND

Online Trust

Technological developments and the increase in e-commerce transactions have extended the notion of trust to the relationship between a human (customer) and the Internet, an artefact created by humans. Numerous studies focused on determining whether online trust exists in a virtual environment and how it could be described (Corritore et al, 2003; Grabner-Kraeuter and Kaluscha, 2008; Turilli et al, 2010; Warrington et al, 2000). Gradually, a definition of online trust was formed as "an attitude of confident expectation in an online situation of risk that one's vulnerabilities will not be exploited" (Beldad et al, 2010, p. …

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