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- Identifying strategies and methodologies for the establishment and maintenance of trust in business-to-consumer ecommerce for small to medium enterprises
- Farrell, Vivienne
- The advent of the Internet as a method of transacting business has challenged consumers to trust in a new technology and deal with virtual vendors residing in unconfirmed locations. Consumers have been expected to accept risk in exchange for convenience of place and time. Lack of trust has been identified as a major contributor to the slow uptake of ecommerce. The initial surveys undertaken support this assertion when applied to an Australian context and in particular in reference to the generation that has been raised with the Internet as a research tool and for social networking. The analysis also demonstrated that the surveyed participants were unable to recognise the trust mechanisms that had been included to reduce the risks involved in online transactions. Without the required understanding and lack of trust of e‐commerce as both a technology and a benevolent vendor/consumer relationship the incidence of vulnerable transactions and vulnerable consumers could lead to growth of mistrust and a failing e‐commerce business model. This research aims to identify existing and potential control mechanisms and environments which improve trust in Business to Consumer (B2C) electroniccommerce (e‐commerce) and in particular for small to medium enterprises (SME) trading over the Internet in Australia. The studies disclose a multifarious understanding of the term trust and its relationship with the multi‐disciplined ecommerce. This complexity demonstrates the difficulty in answering how trust is developed and maintained. In defining trust the inadequacy of singular discipline research is identified and the need to merge disciplines arises. The Technology Acceptance Model (TAM), as frequently proposed as an explanation for the lack of trust in e‐commerce, is inadequate to demonstrate the complexity of trust in relation to e‐commerce and is thus extended to include the Theory of Planned 5 Behaviour (TPB) and the control trust/party trust equation. The inclusion of these Information Systems models demonstrates the need for further discussion of the human aspect in relation to trust in psychology, sociology and human‐computer interaction and its design elements. The study of trust in e‐commerce had in the past been considered from the discipline of the researcher and it had reached a stage of maturity where the merging of disciplines was intrinsic to develop a comprehensive understanding if solutions were to be derived. The merging of disciplines formed a basis for understanding trust as a theoretical concept in relation to e‐commerce and an inclusive analysis of trust factors that had been identified as assisting trust development and maintenance from discipline specific research. It is from this basis that the Multi‐Disciplinary Model of Trust (MDMT) was developed which offers a more holistic view of e‐commerce trust, collating trust determining factors while removing redundancies where they occur. To enhance the MDMT, the concept of unbundling trust as a single issue is offered, where trust is considered to be not only with the vendor but also in the vendor’s ability to provide a safe and secure transaction and delivery. The analysis of the testing of the MDMT with participants demonstrates the benefit of testing each of the factors and concepts in unison rather than disciplinary isolation. Participants acknowledge some redundancies and offer new factors to be considered. The participants also demonstrated their lack of knowledge of a safe and secure technology and classified integral factors as unimportant, once more creating an avenue for vulnerability and the growth of mistrust. The vulnerability was even further exasperated where the participants recognised signs of an unsafe transaction, however were willing to take a risk as their trust in the vendor outweighed their trust in the vendor’s ability. Further research into why consumers were willing to take such risks unveiled Internet B2C e‐commerce SMEs that had implemented this level of vendor trust as a strategy for trust building and maintenance, either through design or general benevolent behaviour of the company. Each of these companies had built communities either online or in the Bricks and Mortar (B&M) world before entering the Internet market. They had also established methods to educate their customers on the use of Internet transactions and offered varied methods of transacting, all of 6 which were backed by personal service. That is community, benevolence and support overcame many of the shortcomings offered by each of these companies in their technological capability. The establishment of trust is a difficult enough task for the new SME entering the market, however there are many pitfalls that enable distrust to occur if the vendor is not vigilant. The experiences of established Australian online B2c e‐commerce SMEs have been collated as a set of guidelines to assist establishing companies gain and maintain trust to ensure technical reliability and robustness of their online business. This research is of benefit to e‐commerce researchers as a resource for a multidisciplinary perspective to B2C e‐commerce. It is also of benefit to businesses establishing themselves as Internet based B2C e‐commerce SMEs in that the MDMT offers factors that will encourage a visibly safe and secure site, the examples of tried methods can encourage initial trust and a set of guidelines to assist in reducing the possibility of building distrust.
- Publication type
- Thesis (PhD)
- Research centre
- Swinburne University of Technology. Faculty of Information and Communication Technologies
- Publication year
- Australasian Digital Theses collection
- Publisher URL
- Copyright © 2009 Vivienne Farrell.