How Task-Facilitative Interactive Tools Foster Buyers' Trust in Online Retailers: A Process View of Trust Development in the Electronic Marketplace
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While there is a sustained interest in research focusing on issues relating to trust development in the electronic marketplace, significant gaps remain in the literature. In particular, little is known of the underlying processes that may be occurring in online trust development. For example, research suggests that factors such as site design and navigability are among the factors that impact trust perceptions. Extant literature, however, is largely silent about why certain trust-related effects are observed in online environments. In this paper, we propose a new process-centric perspective for understanding the formation of online trust-through buyer's assessment of the e-retailer's assistive intent, implicitly embedded in task-facilitative interactive tools. Specifically, we develop and test a model delineating the relationship between seller's provision of interactive product information management and product information comprehension tools, buyer's perceptions of seller's assistive intent, and buyer's initial trust in the seller. The results of two studies provide support for the trust-enhancing effects of task-facilitative informational tools and the mediating role of buyer's perceptions of seller's assistive intent. Importantly, these effects occur without any explicit expressions of seller's intentions. The results also suggest that the efficacy of interactive informational tools in engendering perceptions of seller's assistive intent, and hence trust, varies with the buyer's level of involvement with and knowledge of the product category. 2009 New York University.