Trouble for e-commerce

Written by ProfitGuide

Is it safe to buy online? Not if perception is 9/10ths of reality.

According to a recent poll by Ipsos-Reid, a Vancouver-based market-research company, security remains the bugbear of e-commerce. Fully 82% of consumers surveyed are somewhat or very concerned with online security. Worse, despite continuing maturation of e-commerce, one in three respondents are more concerned with Internet security and privacy today than they were a year ago. Only 13% said they’re more at ease, while 54% reported their level of concern has not changed. (Another 1% didn’t answer or didn’t know.)

Of the 1,000 Canadian adults polled, 58% of respondents have never purchased a product online. Why? Seventeen different reasons were offered, from “tried to but it didn’t work” to higher prices at e-tailers than at traditional stores. Transaction security was the top concern. Nearly half (49%) did not feel secure in giving up credit-card information online, and another 34% fear potential privacy breaches.

“It seems like we have taken backwards steps in perceptions around online security since the dot-com peak of 2000,” says Steve Mossop, senior vice-president of Ipsos-Reid. “Despite advances made by online retailers and online security companies to protect Internet users, most still feel vulnerable to having their personal information compromised online.”

Compared to the accepted risks of traditional credit-card purchases, such concerns are unfounded — leaving e-tailers with little recourse. However, online merchants can address other online-shopping inhibitors. Some 30% of non-shoppers said they’re simply uncomfortable with the online shopping process, 28% cited shipping costs and 28% want to avoid post-delivery issues such as refunds and exchanges. (Multiple responses were allowed.)

Also, 35% complained they can’t see or touch the product. While there aren’t any ways — yet — to address this concern, technologies such as 360-degree product views and product videos can give reluctant shoppers more information to go on.

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