Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) involved in the production of natural essential oils can reduce market accessibility challenges by trading through electronic marketplaces (e-marketplaces). However, trust is a barrier that SMEs should overcome in order to successfully trade in e-marketplaces. The agricultural sector presents a unique challenge to the subject of trust and e-marketplaces. It is difficult for SMEs in the agricultural sector to provide the level of assurance of product quality that their buyers expect. Trust between buyers and sellers during the earliest stages of e-marketplace interaction can pave the way for future trust in a seller on an e-marketplace. Thus, this study uses the uncertainty reduction theory (URT) to investigate factors that could influence the initial trust and pave the way for future trust in a seller on e-marketplaces. This study assumes a qualitative research methodology in which a multiple-case study approach is adopted. The study focuses on SMEs that produce natural essential oils in South Africa. Open-ended interviews were conducted with companies involved in buying or selling natural essential oils in South Africa to determine the factors that influence their decision to buy or sell in an e-marketplace. Findings from data were used to inform the development of a model of trust in sellers of natural essential oils in e-marketplaces. The proposed model recommends trust factors that should be considered during the entry, personal, and exit phases of the URT. The model identifies common and unique trust factors that relate specifically to businesses trading natural essential oils on e-marketplaces. The study found that some SMEs face challenges in coming up with an effective model for selling agricultural produce on e-marketplaces. Hence, they often resort to face-to-face interaction when it comes to product inspection, especially when dealing with first-time buyers. However, this study presented measures put in place by other SMEs suggesting how such challenges could be addressed. Nevertheless, a lack of trust in technology remains a cause for concern to some SMEs selling natural essential oils.
Gcora, N., Maoneke, P.B. and Isabirye, N. (2019), "A Model to Enhance the Perceived Trustworthiness of Small and Medium Enterprises Selling Natural Essential Oils through e-Marketplaces", New Insights on Trust in Business-to-Business Relationships (Advances in Business Marketing and Purchasing, Vol. 26), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 37-52. https://doi.org/10.1108/S1069-096420190000026006
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