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Information richness and trust in V-commerce: implications for services marketing

Chesney, Thomas; Chuah, Swee Hoon; Dobele, A.; Hoffmann, Robert

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Professor of Computational Social Science

Swee Hoon Chuah

A. Dobele

Robert Hoffmann


Purpose: The potential for e-commerce is limited by a trust deficit when traders do not interact in a physical, bricks-and-mortar context. The theory of information richness posits that equivocal interactions, such as ones requiring trust, can be facilitated through communication media that transmit multiple cues interactively. We examine the potential of information-rich virtual worlds to reduce this trust deficit compared with more traditional web-based e-tailing environments.

Design/Methodology: Rather than focusing on stated intentions we adopt an experimental approach to measure behaviour. Participants receive performance-related financial incentives to perform trust games in different information-rich treatments that represent three retail environments: a physical environment representing bricks-and-mortar trade, an electronic environment representing web-based online retailing and a virtual environment representing virtual world retail.

Findings: We find that the two dimensions of trust significantly differ between the treatments. In particular, as hypothesised, both trustingness and trustworthiness are higher in the virtual than in the electronic environment. However, contrary to our hypotheses, physical trade is not associated with greater trust than virtual trade.

Implications: We extend previous research by demonstrating how the information richness of the virtual world interface can promote e-commerce by deepening trust between trading partners. Our research also complements existing work that approaches product and service interfaces through the lens of servicescapes. The findings also contribute towards the development of services marketing practice and the design of e-commerce environments.


Chesney, T., Chuah, S. H., Dobele, A., & Hoffmann, R. (in press). Information richness and trust in V-commerce: implications for services marketing. Journal of Services Marketing, 31(3),

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Feb 5, 2017
Online Publication Date Apr 24, 2017
Deposit Date Feb 8, 2017
Publicly Available Date Apr 24, 2017
Journal Journal of Services Marketing
Print ISSN 0887-6045
Electronic ISSN 0887-6045
Publisher Emerald
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 31
Issue 3
Keywords information richness, trust, e-commerce and v-commerce, virtual worlds, experimental design
Public URL
Publisher URL
Contract Date Feb 8, 2017


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