Consumers to E-Tailers: Don’t Kiss and Tell

The No. 1 reason among online users who have yet to make an e-commerce
purchase: lack of trust. In a new survey, a staggering 69.4 percent of
reluctant e-shoppers cited fear that personal information would not be kept
private by e-tailers as the major reason they shy away from purchasing via
the Internet.

The NFO Interactive research study,
“Online Retail Monitor: Branding, Segmentation & Web Sites,” surveyed 4,523
online consumers, both buyers and non-buyers, to examine buying habits,
attitudes and trends in online retailing.

Asked to prioritize features that would entice
them to shop and buy online, the NFO Interactive online consumer panel
disclosed the top five attributes:

  • Trust that the site will keep personal information private.
  • The site offers a secure environment to purchase products.
  • The site is technically reliable.
  • The content is current.
  • Products ordered are delivered in a timely fashion.

“These are the very attributes that characterize offline or conventional
shopping,” said Tim
Washer, NFO Interactive’s director of research and consulting.

“The most successful online
retailers will closely simulate the bricks-and-mortar shopping experience
by approximating the
offline experience, online. They will succeed in transferring their
established brand attributes to
the Web.

“For new Web-only retailers, the key to building brand equity is to
understand their target
market and its online customer service expectations and then, converting
those expectations into
Web site attributes. What worked for Amazon.com may not work everyone else.”

Among the 1944 online consumers who haven’t purchased a product via the
Net, the prime characteristics
of an e-tail site that would propel them to buy online include:

  • Assurance that their privacy would be protected: 69.4 percent.
  • Offered bigger price discounts: 65 percent.
  • Ability to return a product to a bricks-and-mortar store: 28 percent.

NFO’s Washer said e-tailers should consider offline advantages that can
support online sales.

“Retailers should consider implementing technologies that provide
surrogates for the ‘in-store’ level of customer service, such as Internet
telephony, or chat, to enable a direct, live conversation with a company
rep right off of the Web site,” Washer said.

“Our studies indicate that just over 20 percent of online
buyers would buy more if this type of surrogate offering were available.
More importantly, 15 percent of
the ‘frequently buyer’ segment stated they would become a loyal shopper of
the site if it provided
this live connection,” Washer said.

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