Buying online – what are people scared of?

Written by josh on October 30th, 2009

It’s no wonder that buying online has had such a slow uptake. With credit card scams online and the fears placed into people from their banks and the media, many are unwilling to enter their card details and make a purchase.

Times are changing and what originally was fear and skepticism has turned into a calculated decision to determine whether a site is safe to use.

If you have an online store, it’s very important to know the elements the visitors look for to decide whether to purchase from you. It’s true that most people expect to find bargains on the internet. With the reduced cost of operations compared to a physical shop, the owners are able to make the same profit with a cheaper price tag. But it’s not always the cheapest shop that most people select, it’s often the one they feel the most comfortable to deal with.

So what are they looking for?


If an online store looks antiquated, sloppy, has bad grammar or spelling or gives the impression that the operator is unprofessional, people are less likely to trust it. Unless you know the website operator, it’s near impossible to know if they are trustworthy. So many visitors have to determine this from the appearance of the shop. Ensure that the style of the site is consistent and font sizes and colours are pleasant. If the site looks like a ransom note people may treat it as one!


The majority of people these days know not to enter sensitive information onto a non-secure website. They look for the lock symbol on the browser, and check the name. If you are to going to accept credit card information then security is a must otherwise the majority will not proceed with the payment.

Payment options

With services such as PayPal and Google Checkout storing customers bank details, more and more people are purchasing online using these types of services, as they feel that there is an element of trust with the third party company. This may only be a sense of security but having these options may increase the number of purchases in your store. As these services are not banks, be aware that they may not be required to follow the guidelines that the governments expect, and generally the moneys are kept in a holding account at the service rather than the money being immediately accessible by you.

By having other options such as direct deposit, BPAY and possibly COD, people who do not have a credit card or feel more confident with being in control of the amount being paid, have an option to place an order.

Delivery calculations

Unless you offer the item to be picked up, there is usually a delivery fee that people expect to pay on top of the price for the items. By having the delivery prices available on the site before payment time, people will know what to expect to pay overall. If the delivery prices are not calculated until after an order is placed, then customers wont know what it’s going to cost all up, and may be dubious about placing the order. Some customers may have had items lost in post before, so ensure that they are able to request registered post or sign on receipt courier services.


Unless you are selling a brand name that people can look at in a department store, the description of the items on the website needs to be comprehensive and correct. A good quality picture (or more if the item deserves it) and a well-written description are necessary to allow the shopper to understand what the product is like so they can make a decision whether to purchase or not. Unless described, the feel and smell of the item are not conveyed. For products such as fabric or scented candles, these become important.

Something to be careful of is conflicting information. Check the description to make sure that specifications match wherever it is stated twice, especially if title contains some details. A confused shopper is likely to abandon the cart.

Whenever images are used, it is important that the image be representing of what the customer will receive. If a black item is shown in the picture but the customer receives a white one, they will not be impressed. It’s ok to have a difference is if there is a variant to choose from, for example t-shirts that have a colour choice for the fabric.

Contact Form

If a customer has any questions it’s comforting to be able to contact the shop owner. A contact form is a great way to be able to ask questions. The sooner the customer receives a reply from the shop operator the more likely they are to return to the shop.

This entry was posted on Friday, October 30th, 2009 at 7:49 am and is filed under Web Design & Development. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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