Fri, Mar 1 2024

Unpacking trust in online shops and marketplaces

There is a well-known saying that trust takes years to build, seconds to break and forever to repair. Online retailers and marketplaces should be well aware of this, given the fierce competition for customers and the ever-increasing number of online shopping options. Whether it is about the trust of consumers in the lawful handling of their personal data, the quality of the product or the security of the payment process – without building and maintaining trust, customers will quickly move on to the competition.

At OPP, we play a vital role in helping online shops, marketplaces and platforms to build trust with their customers. So, we embarked on a mission to really understand what trust means to shoppers. What is it worth to them? How quickly can it be lost and, more importantly, can it be regained? In order to answer these questions, we surveyed over 2,000 online shoppers in Germany about the concept of trust. We have summarised all data and resulting insights from this research in our latest report: Trust as an online currency.

Here is what we found:


Institutions and organisations enjoy higher trust levels than individuals

From relationships to transactions to values, consumers' levels of trust vary widely and are more positive when it comes to organisations and institutions than individuals. When it comes to their own partner, only 57% trust that they will never cheat. As for their own boss, only a third of consumers trust their manager to always do what is best for them (31%). And it gets even worse: Only 11% of Germans trust politicians and only 17% trust the media to report the truth.

By contrast, 61% believe their money is safe in their bank. And when shopping online, most Germans trust that the payment process is always secure (57%) and that they will get their money back if something goes wrong (52%). When asked how much they would spend for blind trust in some of these things, German consumers are willing to pay up to 61% of their disposable income for some of them. They are willing to spend more on strengthening existing trusted relationships rather than invest in building new trust.


Less trust in marketplace sellers despite fewer negative experiences

Consistent with these findings from our report is the fact that consumers trust online shops from well-known brand names more than they trust online marketplaces, which may contain a mix of professional and non-professional private sellers as well as small and medium-sized businesses. Indeed, there is a large gap in trust levels: a full 78% of Germans have general trust in online retailers, while only 48% have trust in online marketplace.

However, this doesn't seem to be due to negative experiences with marketplaces. German consumers have had fewer negative experiences with online marketplaces and platforms (21%) than with online shopping in general (25%). It seems counterintuitive that despite having fewer negative experiences with marketplaces, consumers generally trust online shops and online merchants more than private sellers on marketplaces. The mistrust seems to be between private sellers, rather than online shoppers and the platforms themselves.


Trust becomes one of the most important currencies for marketplaces and platforms

Our report shows that there are certain levers that marketplaces and platforms can pull to gain the trust of consumers in the long term. For example, platforms can highlight the achievements of merchants on their site with badges that indicate whether they have been verified through Know Your Customer (KYC) checks, how long they have been active on the platform, or how many products they have sold. In the same way, allowing users to leave star ratings or reviews helps to build trust in the authenticity of the merchant.

Other important things marketplaces can do to maintain trust include ensuring a smooth payment and shipping process, protecting personal information, and providing efficient customer support. Partnering with the right payment service provider to provide the tools to make transactions easy and secure, and to handle disputes between buyers and sellers, can go a long way to helping platforms of all sizes build and maintain trust.

If you want to read more about our findings and get some actionable insights and tips on how to strengthen trust with your customers, download the full report here.


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