8.4. E-consumer trust

The volume of e-commerce transactions has been on the rise, alongside the growing importance of platform intermediation (see page 6.6), changes in business models and the enhancement of individuals’ digital skills.

However, about a third (36%) of Internet users in OECD countries did not purchase online in 2018. Among the reported reasons for not doing so are payment security and privacy concerns. These reasons affected in 2017 25% of Internet users in the EU28 who did not make online purchases in the last 12 months. This share peaked at nearly 70% in Portugal and Finland, compared to less than 10% in Korea, the Czech Republic, Estonia and Poland. Another frequently reported barrier to online purchases is post-transaction trust concerns, for example, related to receiving or returning goods, or complaint and redress concerns. In 2017, these concerns affected 16% of Internet users in the EU28 who did not make online purchases in the year prior to being surveyed. The shares of Internet users reporting these concerns decreased between 2009 and 2017 in most countries with available data, but it increased considerably in others such as Portugal, Finland, Turkey, Norway and Iceland.

The e-commerce experience remains rather positive for a large majority of people who buy online in the European Union. In 2017, 70% of online shoppers did not encounter any problems and only 3% reported experiencing fraud. Online buyers in Southern European countries seem to express higher satisfaction and lower fraud incidence in comparison to those in Northern European countries, Luxembourg and the United Kingdom. In these countries, individuals are relatively more likely to shop online, increasing in turn the likelihood of experiencing incidents.

The growing importance of global online platforms for business-to-consumer and consumer-to-consumer transactions has improved access to suppliers from across the world that offer competitive prices and payment facilities. Very often, consumers are invited to use rating and review mechanisms to provide feedback on their online purchase experience. In such transactions, trust emerges as the key currency.

The results of the 2017 OECD Survey of Consumer Trust of Peer Platform Markets (PPMs) show that, in all ten countries included in the study, at least 30% of consumers who went ahead with purchases despite being unsure about the seller/provider did so because they trusted the platform. These shares reached about 50% in Turkey and the United States. On average, 26% reported that the possibility of rating or reviewing the seller or the provider after the completion of the transaction led them to complete their online purchase despite being unsure whether to trust them.

The main findings of this survey indicate that is no single key to trust: Secure payment, data security and the ability to see pictures of goods or services are the top drivers. PPM consumers take a nuanced view of ratings and reviews, which are considered important, but not necessarily crucial. The more consumers use PPMs, the more they trust them.

Did You Know?

70% of online shoppers in the EU28 did not encounter any problems in 2017 and only 3% reported experiencing fraud.


Payment security and privacy concerns relate to the provision of credit card details or personal details over the Internet.

Online purchases are a component of e-commerce. They include transactions of goods and services “conducted over computer networks by methods specifically designed for the purpose of receiving or placing orders” (OECD, 2011). For individuals, whether sellers or purchasers, such transactions typically occur over the Internet. Online purchases are typically measured over a 12-month recall period because e-commerce is not always a high-frequency activity.

Fraud includes issues such as non-receipt of goods/services purchased online, misuse of credit card details and so on.

Purchasers on a peer platform refers to consumers who have bought goods from other people (e.g. via online marketplaces) and those who have hired people to perform household tasks through online platforms, as well as users of more collaborative platforms such as those for ride and accommodation sharing.


Individuals’ e-commerce activities are usually monitored through surveys on ICT usage in households and by individuals. The European Community survey regularly addresses the reasons for not undertaking a given activity online. Recently, the e-commerce module of the survey included also a question that allows individuals to report on their online purchasing experiences.

The OECD Survey of Consumer Trust of Peer Platform Markets (PPMs) was conducted in 2017 across ten countries with the aim of identifying the key drivers of trust for peer consumers when transacting in PPMs, as well as the extent to which the trust-enhancing mechanisms and initiatives put in place by peer platforms respond to consumer needs. The survey focused on consumers with experience in using PPMs but included one question for consumers that had not yet engaged with PPMs.

To further strengthen the evidence base of consumer policies in the digital era, the OECD aims to develop a “Guide to measuring consumer trust in the digital economy” in the course of 2019-20 within the work undertaken by the Committee on Consumer Policy.

Reluctance to buy online due to payment security, privacy and consumer redress concerns, 2017
As a percentage of Internet users who did not buy online in the last 12 months

Source: OECD, based on Eurostat, Digital Economy and Society Statistics, Comprehensive Database and national sources, December 2018. See 1.

1. For Australia, data refer to the fiscal year 2012/13 ending on 30 June.

For Canada, data refer to 2012.

For countries included in the European Statistical System, in 2017 “Payment security and privacy concerns” does not include “privacy concerns”.

 StatLink https://doi.org/10.1787/888933931295

Individuals’ online purchase experience, 2017
Percentage of individuals who ordered goods or services over the Internet in the last 12 months

Source: OECD, based on Eurostat, Digital Economy and Society Statistics, Comprehensive Database, December 2018.

 StatLink https://doi.org/10.1787/888933931314

Reasons for purchasing on a peer platform despite being unsure whether to trust the seller/provider, 2017
Percentage of all purchasers on a peer platform who went ahead with purchase while unsure of seller/provider

Source: OECD calculations based on the OECD Survey of Consumer Trust of Peer Platform Markets, September 2018.

 StatLink https://doi.org/10.1787/888933931333

End of the section – Back to iLibrary publication page