January 19, 2001, 12:00 AM

Women Still Security Conscious, Study Says

Concern about transaction security is the main obstacle keeping women from shopping online, according to a recent study from Internet customer relationship management company Cyber Dialogue, New York, as part of its American Internet User Survey. Security concerns appear to be stronger predictors of online purchasing than any other factor, including Internet experience. The study found that among the 24 million online women who have not purchased online, 40% state that they are concerned about the security of the information they give on sites.

E-commerce marketers want to target women because they traditionally make most of the household purchase decisions, says Idil Cakim, an analyst for Cyber Dialogue. "Yet based on their online shopping habits, women are reluctant to seek product information or place orders online mainly because of security concerns relating to stolen credit card transactions, personal privacy and the lack of Net regulation," he adds.

During the past 12 months, women shoppers who believe it is safe to use a credit card online spent an average of $830 on their online orders, compared to $459 for those women doubting transaction security, Cyber Dialogue says. Also, while 43% of online men currently order online, only 28% of women users do so, suggesting that the barriers to Internet shopping are much more formidable for women than men.

Almost 70% of women who get product information online still buy offline, continues Cakim. "This drift by women from the Internet to traditional offline stores suggests that the transaction areas of online retail shops aren't conducive to acquiring female customers as online purchasers."

Cyber Dialogue also found that even as the number of women online continues to swell to 33.6 million, women are significantly less likely than men to look for product information online, order from the Web or use Web-based product information to complete a transaction offline. This underscores the importance of marketing to women on the Web with different strategies than those geared towards men, the study concludes.

Other findings from the study include that women are more likely than men to look for product information on health and beauty product sites, while they are much less likely to seek information on travel, books, cars, software and music; nearly 90% of online women say that guaranteed transaction security influences their repeat visits to online shopping sites; and 67% of online women report that published privacy policies encourage them to return to online shopping sites.

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