February 6, 2007, 12:00 AM

Creating trust online isn’t easy, MarketLive says

Most e-retailers have not done a good job of creating sites that communicate trust to shoppers, says the new Trust Index, created by e-commerce services and platform provider MarketLive.

Because web sites lack the cues that most consumers take into account when deciding if they can trust a store-based retailer-things such as condition of store, neighborhood, appearance, friendliness and depth of knowledge of sales associates, and others-online retailers must develop other ways of instilling trust in shoppers. Most have not done a very good job, says a new survey of the trust aspects of web sites, conducted by e-commerce services and platform provider MarketLive Inc.

Such features as site design and usability, security and privacy assurances, clear and effective communications and user generated content all contribute to the perceived trustworthiness of a site, MarketLive says. The company has created an index that measures site trustworthiness. And, it reports, most sites don’t measure up.

MarketLive CEO Ken Burke, will speak at Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition, June 4-7 in San Jose, June 5, 9:15 to 10 a.m. in a general session entitled What E-Retailers Must Know About How Shoppers Use Their Sites featuring original research conducted for the conference on how consumers use e-retail web sites.

MarketLive scored 50 sites against 18 criteria. Only three sites received a passing grade by meeting 65% of the criteria, no site scored higher than 74% and the highest category average was 54%.

Among the criteria that MarketLive identified and the questions that it asked as it reviewed sites were:

• First Impressions: Is this a credible site? Who owns it?

• Safety & Privacy: Can my credit card information be stolen? Can the site be hacked? How will my information be used?

• Product Clarity: Can I trust the product and will it perform or fit as promised when I receive it?
• Worry-Free Shopping: Is the product available now? Is there someone to contact if there is a problem? Are there hidden costs?
• User-Generated Content: Does the site contain product reviews and are they legitimate? Does the site offer expertise on products? What do others think of the product or the site?

In 10 categories, the highest average was 54%. The 10 and how they ranked were: • Electronics, 54%
• Jewelry, 54%
• Apparel, 49%
• Outdoor, 49%
• Pets, 42%
• Baby, 37%
• Gifts, 36%
• Fitness, 36%
• Home, 32%
• Beauty, 21%

The top 10 web sites and their ranking by MarketLive’s Trust Index were:
• GolfSmith.com, 74%
• BlueNile.com, 70%
• Kay.com, 67%
• Batteries.com, 62%
• BHPhoto.com, 61%
• Bluefly.com, 61%
• Zappos.com, 59%
• REI.com, 58%
• BabyCenter.com, 57%
• BestBuy.com, 55%

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