Concerns Don’t Slow E-Commerce

Privacy concerns still lead the list of issues effecting e-commerce according to a nationwide study, but most online consumers have put their fears aside.

A national poll of 1,000 Americans found that 13 percent of those polled indicated they have no fears about electronic commerce. The most popular concern was “privacy and security,” which was cited by 53 percent of the sample. Twenty percent cited the inability to inspect products closely over the Internet, 6.4 percent said they didn’t know how to shop online or it was too complicated, and 3 percent don’t like to wait for delivery.

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The poll was done by Market Facts, Inc. for NetZero, a free Internet service provider. The sample was taken from the general population, and was not limited to Internet users.

“While consumers may have concerns about shopping online, these concerns have not affected their shopping habits,” said NetZero CEO Ronald Burr. “The value and convenience that shopping with mouse and modem provides far out weigh any security downside.”

NetZero’s study found that women are more likely than men (56 percent to 49 percent) to have apprehensions about privacy/security issues related to shopping the Internet. Married people are more likely than single people to have privacy concerns (57 percent to 47 percent). The greater an individual’s income, the more he or she is concerned with security issues. For people making less than $15,000 per year, 34 percent are concerned with privacy. For those making $50,000 or more, 63 percent are concerned with security.

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Age, education, and geography also play a role in the privacy concerns of e-commerce. Respondents in the 35-44 age group were more inclined to have privacy and security concerns. Those in the 65 and over age group had the least amount of privacy concerns (23 percent), but they are also the least likely group to shop online.

The more education a consumer has, the more likely they are to have security and privacy concerns, NetZero found (see table). Americans in the West were least likely to be concerned with privacy and security, the East were most likely (see table).

The number of men that cited waiting for delivery as a concern for e-commerce (4 percent) was double the amount of women (2 percent).

The survey was conducted January 5-6, 1999 by Market Facts TeleNation. The margin of error is +/- 3 percent.

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