Role of trust in the buying process

Editor’s Note: This post is originally appeared on and written by Yasmine El Hindaz.

The big word: Trust. We award people by giving them ours and thereby telling them that we believe in their intentions. It plays an important role in our daily decisions. Do we trust our feet to be able to carry us to the other side of the road before the next car arrives? Will that car driver demand a reasonable price for my route? Will that merchant keep the promises he made earlier? Your answers to all of these questions depend on mainly one thing: The level of trust that you have in someone. In this article we will focus on the trust between a customer and a merchant. How ‘much’ trust is needed to make a customer buy? How can a merchant make a customer trust him?

Of course the level of trust necessary to make a purchasing decision is highly dependent on the type of product you want to buy. Example: The required amount of trust to buy a car is much higher than the amount necessary to buy groceries. In general, there are two major types of products:

  • Search products

These are products in local shops that can easily be inspected and checked. A good example is a dress in a fashion store. One can enter the store, look at the dress, try it and evaluate every aspect of it without any major efforts.

  • Experience products

Contrary to search products, experience products can only be assessed after consumption, meaning after you bought them. Example: If the same dress is being bought in an online shop instead of a physical store, it can’t be inspected in the same way prior to the purchase. Therefore the dress – once bought online – becomes an experience product.

Now, do experience products require more trust from a customer than search products?  Definitely! However, one major key to trust is information: The more you know, the more you trust! An easy example to illustrate is a ladder: If you know that a ladder can carry 300 pounds and you weigh 150 pounds you can rest assured: The ladder will carry your weight. If we now rewind to buying process the next question is:

What information do I need?

Basically you need all the information that is necessary to transform the actual experience product as far as somehow possible into a search product. For this you need:

  • Information about the merchant

Especially when you are buying online, you will need to inform yourself about the merchant.  Does he care about his costumers? Does he deliver on time and in best quality? Does he offer sufficient payment methods and refund policies?

  • Information about the product

Check not only for information about the merchants but of course also about the product itself. Is it any good? Does it have the necessary features?

Where can I find information?

Searching the appropriate piece of information can be difficult. It is not always possible to go out and just look at an experience product in a store and thereby making it a searching product. Especially when you plan an international transaction the cost of information for such an action can be exorbitant. Therefore you have to rely on other information:

  • Information coming from your merchant

Probably the first source is your merchant, but beware: He wants to make a deal with you and therefore you can’t assure that he is always objective. So you should also look out for other source as well:

  • Information coming from your networks

Of course, your friends and colleagues are a reliable source if they have already purchased at this store in question or bought similar products. If they didn’t you should look for:

  • Information coming from a third party.

Customer reviews are one of the most reliable ways to get first hand information on online shops or online service providers. Review platforms connect consumers across the globe and enable consumers to easily see whether other consumers have made good or bad experiences

In a nutshell: Trust is a major part of the purchasing decision. The level of trust you need to have depends on product you buy and of course where you buy it: Online or offline. How to gain trust? Through information: There are plenty of potential resources. Independent review platforms like rank among the most reliable sources of information and are a pool of shopping experiences of many consumers around the world. So before you hit the “buy” button and start your next online shopping journey, check out what other customers all over the world have to say and make smarter decisions!

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