Consumers Rank Trust Above Low Prices

E-commerce site owners take notice: online shoppers demand honesty and respect from retailers – more than the highest-quality merchandise or the lowest prices, according to Cap Gemini Ernst & Young (CGE&Y).

The results of interviews with 6,000 consumers in nine European countries revealed the most important values to the global e-shopper: honesty, respect and reliability. The respondents indicated that human values are more vital to a satisfactory business transaction than traditional notions of product and service. European respondents identified the same top five factors related to shopping as did their counterparts in the U.S., with a slight difference in rank order. Consumer surveys in Thailand and Australia reported similar results.


“Extremely Important” Factors for Online Consumers
U.S. Europe
Courteous and respectful employees 73% 69%
Consistently good merchandise quality 70% 67%
A clean and well-maintained store 69% 71%
Unconditional return of merchandise 69% 60%
Visible prices 68% 64%
Source: The Cap Gemini Ernst & Young Group

Additional findings from the CGE&Y research indicates that:

  • “Honest price” was far more important to shoppers than “lowest price” with 64 percent of American consumers identifying “honest price” as extremely important and 54 percent pointing to “lowest price.”
  • In Europe, the spread was even wider, with 58 percent saying “honest price” vs. just 38 percent saying “lowest price.”
  • Similarly, more American consumers ranked “consistently good merchandise quality” above “top quality products,” 70 percent vs. 59 percent. European shoppers expressed similar preferences, 67 percent vs. 48 percent.

Bolstering the CGE&Y findings is research from Consumer WebWatch, a project of Consumers Union, indicating that online shoppers place little trust in e-commerce sites. The findings of a Consumer WebWatch telephone survey of 1,500 U.S. Internet users conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates revealed that less than one-third trust Web sites that sell products or services.

Only 29 percent say they trust e-commerce sites either “just about always” or “most of the time” while 64 percent trust them “only some of the time” or “never”. Internet users show a similar degree of skepticism towards consumer advice sites – only 33 percent trust them and 59 percent express low levels of trust.

Comparatively, 68 percent say they trust small businesses; 58 percent trust newspapers and television news; and 55 percent trust financial companies such as banks, insurance companies and stockbrokers. A total of 54 percent trust charities and other nonprofit organizations, while 47 percent say they trust the federal government at least most of the time.

Other factors that influence consumer trust of e-commerce sites are whether the Internet user is experienced or a novice; the comfort level in using a credit card online; and overall trust of people in general.

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