A Study of the Multilevel and Dynamic Nature of Trust in E-Commerce from a Cross-Stage Perspective

Dan J. Kim
International Journal of Electronic Commerce,
Volume 19, Number 1, Fall 2014, pp. 11-64.

Abstract: Trust in e‑commerce is a multilevel construct (intrapersonal, system, and interpersonal), and trust building is a dynamic evolutionary process that can be adjusted over time when additional evidence of new interactions becomes available. From a consumer’s perspective in a business-to-consumer e‑commerce context, there are at least two trustees: the Internet as a shopping channel (the e‑channel—system level) and an Internet selling party or Internet vendor (the e‑vendor—interpersonal level) as a business partner. Understanding the multilevel and dynamic nature of trust in e‑commerce is important because it not only provides practical insights that can be used to further enhance the online experiences for both online managers and consumers but also extends our conceptual foundations of trust. Although the multilevel and dynamic nature of trust is a crucial characteristic of trust in e‑commerce, there is little empirical research. To fill this knowledge gap, this study proposes a multilevel model of e‑channel and e‑vendor trust, including trust propensity (intrapersonal level) from a cross-stage (pre- and postpurchase) perspective. This study also proposes a relatively new construct, the consumer’s perceived delivery fulfillment in e‑commerce. Implications of the findings for theory and practice as well as limitations and avenues for future study are discussed.

Key Words and Phrases: Delivery fulfillment, dynamic trust model, e‑channel trust, e‑commerce trust, e‑vendor trust, multilevel trust, trust.