Report: Many Consumers Still Fear E-Commerce

According to a poll conducted by Jupiter Communications, almost two-thirds of online consumers are unlikely to trust an e-commerce Web site, despite privacy and security-related policy disclosures.

While there does not appear to be a clear consensus as to the reasons for such consumer skepticism, experts point to the media as a likely culprit. “The intense media coverage of the online privacy issue is fueling consumers’ fears,” commented Michele Slack, an analyst for Jupiter’s Online Advertising Strategies.

A Call For Action

“Consumers have confused the concepts of privacy and security; they identify security of credit card information, which is their primary concern, as a privacy issue,” said a Jupiter Communications company statement. Netizens have a long-standing fear of companies distributing their personal information, and this, according to some experts, adds to their misgivings.

The report, which was prepared for Jupiter’s Strategic Planning Services (SPS) clients, also indicated that consumers — almost one-third of those surveyed — do not trust the security technologies that have been implemented by e-commerce Web sites.


Jupiter is calling for the e-commerce community to take the initiative. “Web ventures are allowing the media to create an online privacy dialogue with consumers, thereby missing out on an opportunity to shape this important dialogue with consumers themselves,” added Slack.

They have suggested several proactive solutions, including an ongoing dialogue with consumers, the education of consumers through the promotion of privacy efforts, the creation of “an industry standard for addressing the privacy issue,” and the continuation of lobbying efforts against government regulation.

Jupiter Communications is a provider of e-commerce-related research.

Persistent Concerns

This is not the first time that the public has expressed reservations about e-commerce. The results of a survey issued by Rockbridge Associates, Inc.earlier this summer revealed that 58% of online consumers do not consider it safe to do any kind of financial transaction online.

“E-commerce creates considerable concern in the minds of the public,” commented Charles Colby, President of Rockbridge. “Consumers are worried about the privacy and security of their online transactions, and 67% do not feel confident doing business with a place that can only be reached online.”

Colby added that “77% (of online consumers) do not consider it safe to give out a credit card number over a computer, and 87% want their electronic business transactions confirmed in writing. Success in cyberspace will be determined by how well organizations address these issues.”

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