More must be done to instil consumer confidence in online shopping if the market is to reach its full potential, according to a new report from the Office of Fair Trading (OFT).
The consumer rights watchdog warned that the future of online business is at risk because of a lack of trust in internet security. Almost one in three internet users are not enjoying the benefits of e-commerce, the report (PDF) said, because they do not believe that it is secure.
Around 20 per cent of those that refuse to shop online have concerns about personal security, while 15 per cent believe that stores are not to be trusted.
Even those internet users who do shop online have an inherent a lack of trust in the systems. Around half of those interviewed admitted that they shopped on the web, and of those almost three-quarters had concerns about doing so.
"Online retailing is the future for many businesses, and is increasingly important to the economy. If consumers are not confident online, demand will grow at a slower rate," said OFT chief executive John Fingleton.
"We must tackle these concerns right now if the online market is to grow at its full potential. The OFT looks forward to building on its previous work with consumers and businesses to help make this happen."
The study also revealed that the majority of consumers have a better understanding of their online rights, compared to a survey conducted in 2006. The proportion of internet shoppers who correctly thought that they could return an item simply because they had changed their mind, for example, had risen from 44 per cent in 2006 to 51 per cent in 2009.
However, the mechanics of online shopping can still cause issues for some users. According to the survey, 60 per cent of internet shoppers agreed that it is more difficult to resolve problems when shopping online than when on the high street.
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