Online Shopping: Convenient but Risky

  • February 13, 2008
  • By John Horrigan

Two-thirds (66%) of online Americans say they have purchased a product online, such as a book, toy, music, or clothing. Attitudes and perceptions play a key role in whether online users choose to purchase products online.

  • 78% of internet users either agree (53%) or agree strongly (25%) with the proposition that shopping online is convenient for them.
  • 68% of internet users either agree (47%) or agree strongly (21%) that online shopping saves them time.

While the number of e-shoppers continues to grow, there is still widespread concern in the internet population about the safety of financial and personal data online. And fully 58% of internet users say they have felt frustrated, confused or overwhelmed during online shopping.

  • 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.
  • 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.

Internet users' attitudes about online shopping are not entirely consistent. They are willing to shop online because it is convenient and a time-saver, but they also do not like sending personal or credit card information over the internet. Our analysis suggests that if concerns about the safety of the online shopping environment were eased and if shoppers felt that online shopping saved them time and was convenient, the number of online shoppers would be higher.

Read the full report Online Shopping on the Pew Internet & American Life Project Web site.