Buy Shy: What Stops Consumers From Ordering Online

Email copywriters have a big enough job promoting products and services. But some may also have to address concerns shoppers have about buying online, judging by International Omni-Channel Retail Report, a global study issued this week by YouGov. 

Overall, the key barriers to purchasing are: 

  • Delivery charges — 45% 
  • Physically experiencing a product — 45%
  • Product return policy — 39% 
  • Can’t try things — 38% 
  • Delivery time — 33%
  • Concerns about personal information and data security — 32%
  • Uncertainty of delivery — 25% 
  • Payment methods — 17% 
  • Internet access issues — 5% 



These problems can lead to abandoned carts, assuming shoppers even get that far.  

Concerns about delivery charges are most prevalent in developed countries (49% versus 40% for emerging nations). In contrast, those in the emerging category are way more worried about personal information and data security (38% for emerging, compared to 28% for developed). 

Brands using email should focus on delivery prices (free delivery, above all). Other studies also cite this as a primary factor in purchase decisions. 

Retailers can also utilize virtual reality and other tools to overcome the inability to physically examine a product. And return policies should be clearly spelled out, always giving the benefit of the doubt to the consumer.  

Granted consumers also have doubts about shopping in brick-and-mortar stores. These include: 

  • Adhering to social distancing guidance and/or avoiding public interactions — 35%
  • Lack of offers/discounts — 31% 
  • Inconvenience of visiting a physical store — 30% 
  • Product selection/variety—27%
  • Lack of physical stores in my area — 26% 
  • Parking — 24%
  • Accessibility — 16%

On a positive note, here are the key motivational factors to purchase goods via online channels:

Home delivery — 57% 

It is easier to purchase things online — 47%

Variety of products available — 42%

Promotional offers — 40%

Easier to compare products — 37% 

Adhering to social distancing guidance and/or avoiding public interactions — 29% 

Product details and descriptions — 28% 

YouGov conducted this survey across 17 global markets in January and February. It polled 2,251 respondents in the U.S., 2,113 in Great Britain and around 1,000 apiece in the remaining markets. 

Conditions have changed since earlier in the year, with many locales loosening social-distancing policies and masking rules. People may be more eager to shop in a physical store.  

Based on this research, however, here is what motivates them to buy in-store:

  • Physically experiencing a product — 62%
  • Can try things in store — 53% 
  • Speed of purchase — 45%
  • It is easier to purchase things in person — 37%
  • The experience of visiting a store in person — 34% 
  • Product return policy — 29%
  • I trust physical stores more than online stores — 26%
  • Payment methods available — 25% 
  • I like to shop with other people — 17% 

YouGov also surveyed consumers in Australia, China, Denmark, France, UK, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Italy, Mexico, Poland, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, UAE and the U.S.


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