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Abstract

Many business-to-consumer online merchants display trust-promoting seals on their websites to build consumer trust. Previous research confirms that some trust-promoting seals promote web sales. However, whether different types of trust-promoting seals are equally effective for different product categories and whether these seals have the same impact among different consumer segments has not yet been determined. Using experiments conducted on undergraduate students, this study empirically examines the influence of trust-promoting seals on consumers’ online shopping decisions. The results show that trust-promoting seals are generally effective at increasing consumers’ willingness to buy (WTB) from online storefronts. In particular, information-assurance seals effectively promote consumers’ WTB for commodity products, and reliability-assurance seals effectively promote consumers’ WTB for commodity and look-and-feel products. Moreover, reliability-assurance seals increase online consumers’ WTB more effectively than information-assurance seals for both product categories. Two interesting results are found with respect to the effectiveness of trust-promoting seals: (1) in general, trust-promoting seals are most salient to inexperienced online consumers; (2) the influence of trust-promoting seals on consumers’ shopping intentions is independent of their familiarity with the seals.

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