Pew: Americans Increasingly Shop Online But Still Fear Identity Theft

For the readers of Search Engine Land it might come as a surprise that, while most US adults find online shopping “convenient,” they still don’t like sending personal or credit card information over the internet. Based on a consumer telephone survey, among 2,400 adults (9/07), the Pew Internet Project found a range of contradictory attitudes and ambivalence among Americans about e-commerce and online shopping.

The report (.pdf), released yesterday, offered many findings on a range of consumer attitudes and behavior related to online shopping. Here are some highlights:

  • 78 percent of online Americans agree that shopping online is convenient.

  • 68 percent of online Americans say they think online shopping saves them time.
  • 75 percent of internet users agree with the statement that they do not like sending personal or credit card information over the internet.
  • 66 percent of internet users have purchased something online at least once (which has doubled since 2000).
  • Some 39 percent of Americans now say that they have used the internet for banking, up from 27% in February 2005.

Lower income respondents reportedly have greater discomfort with providing credit card information online than more affluent Americans. However, there’s still significant ambivalence among the latter group and concern about online security. More affluent Americans are also significantly more likely to do online banking than lower income groups.

In addition to security concerns, there are reportedly other frustrations with online shopping:

  • 43 percent 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 percent have been confused by information they have found online during their shopping or research.
  • 30 percent have felt overwhelmed by the amount of information they have found online while doing online shopping or research.
  • 58 percent of internet users have experienced at least one of these three feelings during online shopping.

On balance, however, the internet continues working its way into the daily lives of US consumers, with 81 percent saying they use it to do product research and with 20 percent doing so on any typical day.

Pew shopping attitudes

Source: Pew Internet Project

According to Nielsen, by comparison, 85 percent of the global online population has used the internet to make a purchase.

Related Topics: Channel: Retail | Search Engines: Shopping Search Engines | Stats: Search Behavior

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About The Author: is a Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land. He writes a personal blog Screenwerk, about SoLoMo issues and connecting the dots between online and offline. He also posts at Internet2Go, which is focused on the mobile Internet. Follow him @gsterling.

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