Why are Some People Still Afraid of Shopping Online?

April 16, 2015

We all know that one person. The person that just can’t believe you do your shopping online, or assumes the worst every time an order is placed. There will always be skeptics! But why do these people choose to not shop online?

Well I can tell you some examples of people close to me and why they will not buy online. My parents continually tell me that ecommerce is going to destroy the economy, and my grandfather says it will stop kids from getting part time jobs. However, as an ecommerce store you won’t be able to do anything about these reasons, but there are some things you can do to get skeptics more comfortable with your store.


Why My Sister Will Not Shop Online

To discover why someone does not shop online I turned to the biggest ecommerce skeptic I know and asked “what is stopping you from buying online?” This person is not a stubborn shopper from an older generation, or someone with a bitter experience, she is a 22 year old North American millennial.

afraid of shopping online age cohort

This ecommerce skeptic is my sister! Her total avoidance of ecommerce drives me crazy. So instead of prying her to purchase my next gift online, I decided to ask her why she avoids ecommerce. Here is why she won’t shop online:

1. Doesn’t Trust She is Dealing With a Real Store

afraid of shopping online real store quote

Her number one concern is that she does not trust she is dealing with a real store. When asked why, she states that anyone can setup a website and it is much easier for fraudulent activity to occur online than in person.

While it may be easy to set up a website, it is not as easy to create a functioning ecommerce site as we both know. But my sister’s concern about the authenticity of a store is actually a common one. Research by sitejabberfound that it is a top 7 concern for shoppers who are afraid to shop online.

What Your Store Can Do:

If you want shoppers to trust your site you need to give them a reason! The majority of your site visitors are assessing the credibility of your store based on looks alone. A Stanford study found that 46% of site visitors assess your sites credibility on the look of the homepage.

Invest some time in creating a visually appealing logo and homepage. If you don’t have an artistic bone in your body, you may want to consider getting some external help from a graphic designer or web designer. You can also look for pre-existing themes on platforms like Shopify and Bigcommerce. These themes are designed by experts and can really give your store a visual edge.

2. Doesn’t Like to Pay for Something Before She Has It

afraid of shopping online paying before you get it

My sister also does not like the idea of having to pay for something before she physically has it. This is a concern that some North American shoppers have, but for the most part we have been conditioned to accept it. This is a much greater concern in some other international ecommerce markets.

In some international markets it is common to pay for orders on delivery. This would make some ecommerce shoppers more comfortable but it also creates a logistical nightmare. If it is common practice where you are selling you should offer it, but if it isn’t there are some better ways to deal with this concern.

What Your Store Can Do:

In this case shoppers are concerned about a financial commitment to a product they have not yet received. One way to combat this fear is by offering free returns, but you need to make sure they know the details.

Do you give money back or is the returned item awarded store credit? How will the shopper complete a return if they need to? These are answers a worried shopper will want to know!

Zappos does an amazing job of making this information readily available to shoppers. They display it prominently in the banner that appears on every page of the site.

afraid of shopping online zappos website

The link in the banner takes you to a detailed return policy page that explains the 100% guaranteed return policy in detail. This gives a sense of comfort to shoppers who are afraid of ecommerce. The page even has a video giving step by step instructions on how to send an item back.

3. She is Concerned That Her Credit Card Info Could Be Stolen


A big concern for my sister is that she thinks inputting credit card information online is insecure, and makes her card vulnerable. She is worried that someone will get her card info and start making other purchases online.

This is a problem that many sites are already aware of and there are a couple of ways to help shoppers feel at ease when shopping on your site. The first involves creating a secure checkout and the next involves a credit card alternative.

What Your Store Can Do:

Create a recognized secure checkout such as McAfee, TrustE, or COMODO. These secure checkouts will confirm your store is secure and will provide you with a badge you can display on your site.

afraid of shopping online checkout options

These badges should be placed somewhere easy to find, especially on the checkout page. This way a shopper can click on the badge to see the details of your secure checkout and whether it is authentic. Studies have shown that displaying secure checkout badges help create a sense of trust which boosts conversions.

afraid of shopping online asos secured

The second way to combat fears of credit card insecurity is with an alternative form of payment. When I asked, my sister was more comfortable with the idea of paying with PayPal than credit card. Giving shoppers the option to use payment options besides credit cards is important in attracting shoppers who might be afraid of ecommerce. This is especially true if you are planning to target international markets!

4. She Doesn’t Like to Give Out Personal Information

afraid of shopping online email and spam

I think this concern is hilarious for my sister. She is willing to put location tags on all her social media posts and check-in everywhere on foursquare, but is concerned someone will get her email address.

However, she is not alone in this concern, 29% of online shoppers don’t trust a retailer with their personal information.

What Your Store Can Do:

The concern over personal data is usually because a shopper fears that the information will be sold to external sources or they are worried their email will be spammed.

To get shoppers to trust you won’t be selling any data you can always just tell them. That is exactly what Zappos does to establish trust with their shoppers. They have a short explanation on the site with a link to the detailed privacy policy page. It helps that they gave it a more personal touch.

To prevent people from feeling like they are getting spammed be sure that you are making shoppers opt-in to email communications when they register for an account or make a purchase.

That wraps up the reasons some people are still afraid to shop online. I will continue to try and convince my sister to accept ecommerce, but I will need some help from the ecommerce community to implement some of the suggestions in this post.