Lack of trust and security concerns are still holding people back from shopping online, though consumer confidence has grown significantly over the last few years.

According to a consumer survey (pdf) carried out by the Office of Fair Trading, nearly one in three are put off from shopping online. For 30%, lack of trust was the biggest reason, followed by concerns over personal security (20%) while 15% said they did not trust companies that sell online.

The OFT has compared results of the 2009 survey with one that was conducted back in 2006, and does find that trust in online shopping has improved in that period. Among the shoppers who do buy online, 54% think it is as safe as offline, compared to just 26% in 2006.

What customers look for before they buy

The survey also revealed the kinds of things that consumers are looking for to reassure them about buying online. More online shoppers are now looking at the T&Cs on e-commerce sites; 55% in 2009 compared to 49% in 2006.

Other signs of trust that consumers look for are reviews of the website (36%) and contact telephone numbers (57%). Also, 79% felt that e-commerce sites provided accurate information on returns policies, though this suggests that 21% are not providing this basic and crucial information.

There is plenty that e-tailers can do to make customers trust their website enough to buy from it, some of which, such as providing returns information and a contact number are very basic.

There are other things too, such as being transparent about prices and delivery charges, providing alternative payment methods for customers worried about card security, as well as providing logos, signs of server security etc.

Security / fraud concerns

While consumers are more confident about online shopping than they were three years ago, there still seems to be a large number that remain to be convinced. Only 46% of the 1,000 respondents had shopped online in the past twelve months, while a surprising 31% had never even used the internet.

Consumer concerns about shopping online:

Consumer concerns about shopping online

Of the 23% that had used the internet but not to buy online, 49% cited trust and security issues as the main concern. While in some cases retailers can do more to convince these web users, there is some lack of awareness on the part of consumers.

27% were unaware that they were not liable t pay in cases of credit card fraud, while others were unaware of their consumer rights when buying online.

Delivery

Online shoppers are less concerned about delivery than they were in 2006; 12% in 2009 compared with 24% three years ago, though one in five online shoppers reported some kind of problem, around half of which was related to delivery.