Consumers Concerned with Reliability

According to an Internet survey, businesses need to address two key concerns to improve consumer confidence in online shopping: security of payments and the reliability of businesses.

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Greenfield Online, Inc. conducted the research on behalf of BBBOnLine, a subsidiary of the Council of Better Business Bureaus. Survey participants were routed to an online shopping survey at the Greenfield site through links from the sites of BBBOnLine founding sponsor companies. Participation was voluntary and a total of 500 respondents were selected randomly among those who participated in the survey.

Of those surveyed, 83 percent cited security of payment as a main concern about online shopping. Despite this, 59 percent of respondents reported using their credit card to pay for their purchases online.

Eighty-four percent of those surveyed felt that recognition of online companies by a reputable third party (such as the Better Business Bureau) would make online shoppers more confident about their online purchases. About half of the respondents agreed that there are many disreputable companies offering products for sale on the Web. More than three-quarters (78 percent) report that they would shop more online if they could be assured a company is reputable.

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The key cue respondents look for to indicate the reputability of a company is awareness of the business name (75 percent). Other cues mentioned by a majority of purchasers include brand familiarity (68 percent) and the presence/stature of the business offline (52 percent). In addition to business name recognition, non-purchasers look to brand familiarity (64 percent) or recommendations from friends/family (42 percent) as reliability cues.

Besides the security of payment issues, other issues of concern to online users include privacy (71 percent purchasers, 84 percent of non-purchasers); the possibility of returning items bought on the Web (65 percent of purchasers, 77 percent of non-purchasers); and resolving differences with online merchants (45 percent of purchasers, 69 percent of non-purchasers).

Among the ways to encourage online purchases that were most frequently cited by non-purchasers were more security (36 percent), followed by price/payment (24 percent).

More than two-thirds (69 percent) of those participating in the survey placed an order online in the past month. A majority (63 percent) shop online at least once a month and 27 percent shop online at least once a week. The average price limit at which respondents would be uncomfortable purchasing an item on the Web is $1,500.

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