Analysts disagreed this week over whether Web surfers are starting to use the Internet to make serious purchases or whether they are still wary of ecommerce.
According to data aggregated by Intermarket Group from four independent reports, two thirds of consumers now use the Internet to research which items to buy, but only one in three actually use it to order and pay for goods.
Some 77 per cent of Web users said they saw product pricing as a major turn off to shopping over the Internet, while 67 per cent were worried about potential hassle if they wanted to return purchases.
Another 65 per cent of those questioned were concerned about using their credit cards, while 58 per cent were unhappy about personal privacy issues.
And some 48 per cent of those that had already used ecommerce sites and 35 per cent of those that had not, complained about the difficulties of navigating merchant sites. One in four buyers were also displeased with the amount of time it took to receive their orders.
David Strassel, a partner with Intermarket Group, said: "The low hanging fruits have largely been picked and there is still tremendous work to be done to get the other two thirds buying online. Credit card security remains an issue as well as privacy. People are uncomfortable with how their information is being shared."
But these findings were contradicted by another report, which found that people were starting to use the Internet to purchase 'big ticket' items. According to figures from CDB Research, one in five consumers had bought airline tickets over the Web, while 13 per cent had acquired computer hardware.
Some 30 per cent of those polled were attracted to ecommerce because they could shop at home, but another 25 per cent liked being able to place their orders at any time during the day.
The research also indicated that, while sexes are equally likely to shop online and look for the best prices, women tended to go for the convenience factor, while men enjoyed hunting for hard to find items that they cannot find in shops.
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