Why Are Some People Still Afraid of Shopping Online?

April 6, 2018
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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published April 16, 2015 and was updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness on April 6, 2018.

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. Don’t fear - there are ways you can overcome these obstacles!

 

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

"I can't be sure that the site I'm shopping from is a real store."

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. But my sister’s concern about the authenticity of a store is actually a common one. Research by sitejabber found 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

"I feel uncomfortable paying for something and having to wait days or weeks to get the product."

Another thing my sister doesn’t like is 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 is by providing them with loyalty points for each purchase. This instant gratification ensures that customers are getting value for their money right at the time of purchase, and they don’t need to wait!

Is a loyalty program right for you?
Fill out our simple checklist to determine if a loyalty points program fits with your brand.

Another way to combat this fear is by offering free returns, but you need to make sure customers know the details.  A worried shopper will want to know if they get their money back or store credit, and how to actually complete a return.

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, making the entire process quick and painless.

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

"What if someone takes my credit card information?"

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.

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 to ensure your website is authentic and secure. Studies have shown that displaying secure checkout badges boost conversions because they help build a sense of trust.

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

"I don't want my email to get taken or be overloaded with junk 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.Put your customers at ease by showing them that you won’t be selling any of their data.  Zappos accomplishes this with a short message that links to their more detailed privacy policy, which proves they take customer privacy seriously.

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.

Here’s How to Make Your Online Store More Trustworthy

While there might always be people who are afraid of shopping online, you can start building their trust by:

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!