Shoppers have trust issues with online only retailers

Consumers see online only retailers and discount variety stores as the least trustworthy players in the retail industry, according to new research from Monash University.

The first annual Australian Consumer, Retail and Services (ACRS) consumer retail trust index from Monash University Business School found most consumers trust supermarkets more than pure-play online retail giants like ASOS.

Despite the rise in e-commerce, ACRS research consultant Paolo De Leon says shoppers perceive online only retailers to be less trustworthy than their bricks-and-mortar competitors.

“Surprisingly, despite the e-commerce and online shopping  boom, the least trusted retail sector was online-only retailers who were rated well-below their retail counterparts,” he says.

“Unlike with the retail industry overall, when it comes to clothing retailers, communication and products are also key in driving trust. This differs again for supermarkets, where we saw trust in information security emerge as important.”

More than 630 Australians took part in the survey, which found consumers value five key retail trust attributes: employees, store presentation, product quality and innovativeness, communications, and information security.

ACRS senior research consultant Dr Eloise Zoppos says the findings highlight the need for retailers to understand the factors driving consumer trust, which can then help to refine their business operations, including marketing campaigns and communication strategies.

“Our research found that trust has a strong impact on loyalty and likelihood to recommend, including the Net Promoter Score—a tool used to gauge the loyalty of a firm’s customer relationships,” she says.

“Trust varies greatly by retail sector. Brands and retailers need to know their trust drivers and which trust levers to pull, as it’s only after that point that an effective trust building strategy can be developed.”

By Ruth Cooper