People are happy to shop online for books, CDs and electronic goods, but are less convinced when it comes to clothes and shoes.
Market researcher E-buyersguide.com says serious barriers must be overcome before consumers feel confident enough to buy these goods online.
The main reasons are uncertainty over accurate sizing, delivery costs, problems over returning items and quality concerns.
"Apparel presents a real challenge for online retailers because it is such a high-touch item," said Irwin Barkan, chairman of E-buyersguide. "It is more difficult to make an apples-to-apples comparison about an online purchase when factors such as colour, texture and fit come into play".
For the small percentage of people that bought clothes and shoes online last year, the main draws were a large merchandise selection, free delivery and low prices.
"Many online apparel shoppers are looking for a specific clothing item from a known brand," said Barkan. "Once they make the decision to shop online, factors such as price, delivery and selection become important, and they seem to care less about who is selling them the product.
"This a clear challenge for online retailers. To succeed they need to look at ways to transfer the strong in-store loyalties to the Web, and look for ways to add more value to the online shopping experience."
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