Building trust on-line

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Building trust on-line

McKinsey Quarterly, 2001 nr 4

Policy relevance:

This article highlights the importance of the presence of online trust in e-commerce. Developing e-commerce is one of the Commission’s action lines in its eEurope Action Plan (see

EEURACTIV’s LinksDossier on eEurope). An insight into what makes customers have enough trust online is therefore necessary to achieve this aim of flourishing e-commerce.


This McKinsey article concludes that only by sustaining trust can marketers expect to establish enduring relationships with consumers delivering consistent and progressive mutual benefits. To reach this, it found that there are six elements of trust and four stages of trust building that marketers should take into acount when trying to sell online. The six elements that build the “trust pyramid” are:

  • Usestate-of-the-art security;
  • Createmerchant legitimacy(brands are important on the web) by selling branded products, allying with an established brand or encouraging prospective customers to sample the service through low risk trials and creative offers;
  • Have goodfulfillmentof orders: efficiently and with minimal hassles;
  • Give consumerscontrolaccess to their personal information;
  • Use the righttone and ambience, such as by including an easy-to-read privacy statement, good ease of site navigation and a suitable appearance of the site;
  • And makecollaborationpossible so customers can inform each other about the company’s product and service offerings.

McKinsey states there are also four stages in trust building:

  • Getting the customer’sattractionto get him to spend time and attention on the site;
  • User-driven personalisationof the seller’s site;
  • Marketer-driven personalisationas marketers begin using insights by consumers to beam information back to them; and lastly
  • Trust-based collaboration where the marketer and the consumer work together closely.

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