A third of British shoppers aren't comfortable buying online, and refuse to do it all together, a new survey shows.
Shoppers question the security of online transactions and worry about providing personal information such as credit card numbers, notes the Office of Fair Trading, a government agency that administered the survey. And this could keep e-commerce from reaching its full potential in Britain.
"Online retailing is the future for many businesses and increasingly important to the economy," says John Fingleton, the agency's chief executive. "If consumers are not confident online, demand will grow at a slower rate, so we must tackle these concerns if the online market is going to grow at its full potential."
More than half of survey respondents said they do buy goods online, but more than 72 percent of these reported having some concern about making purchases over the Internet. About 20 percent of respondents worry about personal security, while 15 percent say they simply don't trust online companies with their information.
That's not to say buyers aren't becoming more confident about shopping on the Web. In fact, U.K. online spending has increased by 45 percent from 2006 to 2008, according to the Office of Fair Trade.
And after spending £43.8 billion in 2008, Brits bought almost twice as much online as their European neighbors, Consumer Minister Gareth Thomas tells the BBC.
"It's encouraging that the OFT's survey shows increasing consumer confidence when buying online, but people still have concerns," he says.
People should be cautious, though, says Matt Hampton, chief technical officer at Imerja, an IT security service provider. As more people shop online, online fraud cases are more prone to pop up. To avoid becoming a victim, he suggests only buying goods from "a trusted site or seller," and making sure that customers have a method of contacting sellers when they want to make a purchase.
"If in any doubt, make contact with them before completing the purchase," he tells PC Advisor.
Other Entries by this Author
Auctiva staff writers constantly monitor trends and best practices of those selling on eBay and elsewhere online. They attend relevant training seminars and trade shows and regularly discuss the market with PowerSellers and other market experts.