Online Shoppers Willing to Buy, but Security Issues Holding Back Growth

February 21, 2008

This article is included in these additional categories:

Financial Services | Household Income | Retail & E-Commerce

Most online Americans view online shopping as a way to save time and a convenient way to buy products, but most also express discomfort over a key step in online shopping – sending personal or credit card information over the internet, according to a Pew Internet Project survey.

Specifically, the study found as follows:

  • 78% agree that shopping online is convenient.
  • 68% say they think online shopping saves them time.
  • 75% agree with the statement that they do not like sending personal or credit card information over the internet.

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The report, titled “Online Shopping: Internet users like the convenience but worry about the security of their financial information,” finds that two-thirds (66%) of online Americans have at one time bought a product online.

If online Americans did not have such high levels of concern about sending personal or credit card information over the internet, the report estimates that the share of internet users buying products online could be as much as three percentage points higher, or 69%.

Household Income a Factor

Low-income online Americans are most likely to express concerns about providing credit card or personal information online and least likely to see time-savings or convenience in e-commerce:

  • Those in households with annual incomes below $25,000 annually, 44% strongly agree that they don’t like sending credit card information online, twice the percentage (22%) that strongly agrees that online shopping is convenient.
  • Those in households with annual incomes above $100,000, 25% say they strongly agree that they don’t like sending credit card information over the internet, whereas 36% strongly agree that online shopping is convenient.

Online Shoppers More than Double

In broad terms, the report finds, the number of Americans who have ever bought anything online has more than doubled since 2000, from 22% in June 2000 to 49% in September 2007. That amounts to 66% of Americans with internet access who have bought products online.

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People are more likely to do background research on a product than execute the purchase online: Some 60% of all Americans say they have used the internet for product-related research in September 2007, up from 35% who had done this in June 2000.

Banking and Classifieds

The Pew Internet Project’s September 2007 survey also found increases in the use of the internet for banking and online classified ads:

  • Some 39% of Americans now say that they have used the internet for banking, up from 27% in February 2005.
  • For online classifieds such as Craig’s List, 24% of Americans report having used them in the September 2007 survey, an increase from 14% who said so in February 2005.

About the study: The data for this report was gathered through telephone interviews conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates between August 3, 2007 and September 5, 2007, among a sample of 2,400 adults, age 18 and older.

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