With more consumers heading online to shop, Morning Consult sought to understand what would impact trust specifically with online purchases.

Respondents were asked how important a number of factors were in building trust when shopping online with a retailer, and three key factors were consistently selected: Protecting user data, being reliable and offering a good value for the price.

Share of U.S. adults who said the following are important to build trust when purchasing products online

That trifecta of trust is repeated when respondents were asked about purchasing intent: Protecting data, delivering value and being dependable. Notably, those who shop mostly online have slightly higher expectations of online shopping than those who do most of their shopping in person.

Share of U.S. adults who said the following are important when considering purchasing products online


For brands hocking products online, the mostly-online shoppers’ trust and purchasing intent builders look very similar to those of the mostly-offline shopper. That means brands won’t have to shift their approach when dealing with these consumers individually, but they’ll need to embrace these top drivers to build trust online.

Share of U.S. adults who said they would trust a retailer less if it did the following

With user data protection so high on the list of trust builders, it makes sense to see a data breach as one of the biggest trust “benders” in the survey. Eighty-four percent of U.S. shoppers and those who shop mostly in person, along with 85 percent of those who primarily shop online, said their trust would be negatively affected if an online brand had a data breach and their personal information was compromised.

Similar shares said the same if they had a negative customer service experience with the brand. This is a particularly timely aspect for retailers, many of which are struggling to hire enough employees to create a positive customer service experience -- either in person or online.

Share of U.S. adults who said they would stop buying from a retailer if it did the following

Trust breakers look similar for those who shop mostly online and for those who mostly shop in person: Becoming unreliable and a data breach would cause at least 3 in 5 shoppers to stop purchasing from an online retailer altogether.

Not offering money-back guarantees, a particularly important element when shopping online, would prevent about half of the public from shopping from an online retailer.

"I stopped purchasing from a retailer due to an ­­­_________ and I will never use them again because of it."

Roughly 1 in 5 U.S. adults have stopped buying from a brand due to either an online (23 percent) or in-person (21 percent) shopping experience, with retention risks increasing for those shoppers who mostly shop online.


The risk of losing a customer over trust breaches is the same for online and in-person purchases, but remember that fewer consumers naturally trust online-only retailers, creating more trust obstacles for those sellers. It’s one of the reasons we’ve seen more DTC retailers, such as millennial darlings Warby Parker and Everlane, open storefronts after gaining a following online.

Up Next: Conclusion

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