Pew Finds Ambivalence about Online Shopping

The latest Pew Internet report (n=2,400) about online shopping finds that Americans increasingly are using the Internet for product research and buying things online but not without fear or ambivalence about security. Below are a few highlights; the full report is here:

  • 78% of internet users either agree (53%) or agree strongly (25%) with the proposition that shopping online is convenient for them.
  • Yet, 75% of internet users either agree (39%) or strongly agree (36%) with the proposition that they do not like giving out their credit card number or personal information online.

Regarding the experience of online shopping the report says the following:

  • 81% of internet users have used the internet to do research about a product they are thinking about buying, with 20% doing this on the typical day.
  • 43% of internet users have been frustrated by the lack of information they encounter while using the internet to find out about or buy goods or services.
  • 32% have been confused by information they have found online during their shopping or research.
  • 30% have felt overwhelmed by the amount of information they have found online while doing online shopping or research.

So, paradoxically, there’s both too much and not enough information for consumers. That probably goes to where they are in the mythical funnel. At the highest levels of early research (e.g., search results) there’s too much undifferentiated information. But then, closer to purchase, in verticals or directories, there’s not enough to help them make decisions. I’m of course drawing inferences here. Do you agree or disagree?

Also this was interesting from the report:

Some 24% of American adults said they had used classified ad or sites such as Craigslist in [the] September 2007 survey. This compares to 14% who said this in February 2005.

Compare this January, 2008 Nielsen data:

  • 85% of the world’s online population has used the internet to make a purchase
  • Most people return to shopping sites they are familiar with, with 60% saying they buy mostly from the same site.

In the US that’s mainly Amazon and eBay and branded retailer sites. Indeed, the latter point illustrates the importance and role of “trust” (read: brand) in online shopping.

Taken together all this data reflects that consumers want more specific and helpful information from sites they can trust. If they find those sites they will be loyal to them. That’s about user experience and brand.


%d bloggers like this: