Online Shopping Hobbled by Security Concerns?

Dennis Faas's picture

Finally, the American consumer believes the Internet is a useful and convenient shopping tool and a good way to save time. However, there are still major obstacles between reaching the comfort zone for consumers. Concerns over privacy and credit card security remain a large issue to many would-be buyers.

At least, this is what the Pew Interent Project Survey for September 2007 has concluded. Among the findings:

  • Shopping on the Internet has become routine. A large majority of Internet users (93%) have done some Internet task related to e-commerce.  e.g. they have bought something, researched a prospective purchase, made travel bookings, done stock trades or participated in an auction. On any particular day on the Internet, one out of every four users is doing something of this nature.
  • Forty percent of Americans use Internet banking. This is up from 27% measured 2-1/2 years earlier.
  • The majority of Americans online (78%) concur that shopping online is convenient and 68% believe that online shopping saves time. (Source:
  • The result of all this is that, among Americans, online shopping has more than doubled since 2000. In 2000, only 22% of Americans had ever purchased something online, and in September 2007, about half (49%) had purchased online.

This is all good for the Internet, right? Online shopping has grown substantially, right? Yes. But concerns about online shopping seem to be appearing fast, too.

For example, while 68% of online Americans feel that online shopping saves them time, more Americans, a whopping 75%, assert that they do not like sending personal or credit card information over the Internet. Also, more than half (58%) found that they have been frustrated by the lack of information, confused by the information, or overwhelmed by the information they have found during online shopping sessions.

The attitudes of would-be online shoppers are associated with age. Almost 2/3 of users under age 30 find the Internet the best place to get a good deal, while less than 1/3 of those 65 or older do. But the generations seem to agree on concerns about security of personal and credit card info: 71% of young users have major concerns and 82% of older users have major concerns. (Source:

Certainly, many people will fasten on to the positive aspects of this survey: Internet shopping is increasing. But the dark side, the aspect that could well hobble the future of Internet commerce, is that the sense of risk remains very high in using the Internet for purchases.

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