The Relationship Between Website Quality, Trust and Price Premiums at Online Auctions

Gregg, Dawn G. and Walczak, Steven
Electronic Commerce Research, Vol. 10 Issue 1, p. 1-25

This study measures the value of website quality in terms of its impact on trust, intention to transact and price premiums. Prior research on online auctions has focused on the use of reputation systems for building trust in online auction vendors and subsequently to generate price premiums. This study examines the extent to which trust can be induced by improving the quality of online auction listings for both new and existing auction ventures. A survey of 701 eBay users is conducted which compares the price premiums of two nearly identical online auction businesses, one that has online auction listings with a perceived high quality and the other that has substantially lower perceived quality. Results of this study indicate that website quality can explain 49 % of the variation in the trust for eBay sellers. In fact, it shows that sellers with good website quality are all perceived to be equally trustworthy regardless of their eBay reputation; whereas sellers with poor website quality are not perceived to be trustworthy even if they have a high eBay reputation score. The results also show that the trust resulting from increased website quality increases intention to transact and results in price premiums of 12% (on average) for sellers with higher quality listings. Theories from marketing, economics, and social psychology are used to explain why website quality induces trust in unknown vendors without providing any concrete evidence regarding the vendor’s past history.