Trust is increasingly important as commerce moves from physical to digital.
For Posts, eCommerce represents a substantial opportunity as consumers increasingly turn to the web and merchants explore how to sell both locally and across borders.
However, despite the convenience and choice it offers, both consumers and retailers face considerable risks when transacting online.
For example, how can a consumer trust that the retailer will send the right goods? How can they return faulty items? Likewise, how can retailers be sure that they’ll get paid?
This role of social institutions to assuage the fears of consumers by developing a trustworthy reputation in order to facilitate engagement in transactions over the Internet represents the much-needed foundation of “trust” in electronic economic exchange. Wiley.
Role of Trust Intermediaries in eCommerce
The complex relationship between consumers and retailers requires a neutral trusted third party to provide direction on payments, fulfillment, and dispute resolution.
A ‘trust intermediary’ provides the structure, services, and governance to enable all parties involved in eCommerce transactions to interact with confidence.
Postal organizations that understand the role of an intermediary can capitalize on the booming eCommerce market and cement its long-term position as a trusted advisor.
As a trust intermediary, Posts can help:
- Reduce uncertainty
- Protect customer privacy
- Establish trust
For example, track and trace solutions give consumers visibility as their parcel moves along the delivery route; accurate real-time delivery information helps reduce anxiety and gives consumers more control when receiving or collecting their goods.
Why Intermediaries Add Value
Intermediaries are accountable, transparent, and impartial.
In the eCommerce landscape, Posts perform these roles by remaining independent and acting as a conduit for eCommerce — a referee between the buyer and seller.
Offline, trust is established at meetings, recommendations, background checks and so on.
Online, trust is established electronically. Posts can provide this level of trust as it has a track record in identity and authorization services.
Posts are seen as trustworthy, reliable, and available. You can always walk into a post office branch and talk with someone face-to-face. While this may sound trivial, in an age of call center phone tag, being able to speak with another person in a branch and resolve an issue on-the-spot reduces the anxiety and frustration that can occur when dealing with phone operatives and chat bots.
How Posts as Intermediaries Can Increase Trust
The lack of trust in the delivery process and the perceived difficulty of returning goods dissuades many potential customers from buying goods online.
Posts, as trust intermediaries, can help reduce the barriers to eCommerce and build confidence by providing:
- Consumer Protection - advice on recourse and redress during disputes; encourage accessible and responsive redress procedures from merchants
- Cross Border - Customs information — clear explanations and advice on taxes, fees, packaging, and documentation requirements
- Privacy - ensure customer data is protected at all stages of the eCommerce lifecycle
- Dispute resolution - provide advice, for example, when importing goods across more than one jurisdiction
- Hidden costs - advice on shipping, tariffs, VAT, and currency conversions
- Payments - offer multiple payment methods in line with consumer expectations
- Protection - protect personal information collected from buyers and other parties
- Returns process - help merchants improve the returns process; provide consumers with hassle-free returns procedures
- Security - mechanisms to secure payments, reduce fraud, and avoid identity theft
- Track and Trace - automated notifications on status and location of goods during delivery
Range of eCommerce Trust Services
eCommerce requires a range of trust services to support negotiation, agreement, and fulfillment.
To encourage consumer uptake in eCommerce, Posts are providing the following:
- Authorization service - process payments securely and efficiently
- Digital signatures - for authentication, integrity, and non-repudiation when sending messages related to eCommerce, especially cross-border transactions
- Escrow - services to ensure that payment and delivery is coordinated between buyer and seller
- Identity services - ensure the identity of all parties involved in transactions
- eReceipt generation - provide digitally signed receipts
- Standards - international standards and accountability for data handling, privacy, and dispute resolution
- Secure storage - postal facilities (typically for parcels) and digital lockers (for electronic receipts, contracts, and statements)
- Trust ratings - endorsements of site’s credibility; branded symbols of trust and privacy
Related services include time stamping, electronic delivery (digital registered mail) and website authentication (e.g. certificate to verify authenticity)
eCommerce is still in its infancy. In a few decades, an entire industry has started to catch up with traditional retail channels. Today, social media, mobile, and omni channels are accelerating this growth.
To accommodate this uptake, independent reliable trust services are critical.
For consumers, trust services reduce anxiety and builds confidence in fulfillment, collaboration, and dispute resolution. For merchants, it helps justify their investment in developing expensive eCommerce platforms.
As a total solutions provider to the Postal industry, Escher ensures that Posts play a critical role as a trust intermediary for eCommerce as the shift towards digital commerce continues to gather pace.