How third-party certification programs relate to consumer trust in online transactions: An exploratory study



Consumer fears about Internet security and ordering over the Internet can influence online buying behavior, and these fears may be exacerbated by increasing attention to identity theft. A key strategy to increase consumer trust in ordering has been participation in third-party certification programs. This study presents a model describing the relationship between third-party identifying logos, trust transfer, and trust buildup and tests the model with data collected by an online survey. The results support hypotheses that perceptions of third-party logos are related to intensity of seal exposure, importance of trust factors in online shopping, and disposition toward third-party certification. Also, such perceptions and the current level of consumer trust in general in online shopping are positively related to transfer of trust from certification to online e-marketers. Prior research found that validating logos does not increase transfer of trust; a post-hoc analysis revealed that this finding is dependent on type of logo. The findings indicate that Web site certification can reassure potential customers and increase the probability of purchase. © 2008 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.