Survey Maps Out Japan Views on Net Shopping

TOKYO (04/21/2000) - The results of a survey by the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications (MPT) into online shopping were published earlier this week and hold both good news and bad news for those running or planning Internet shopping ventures.

While almost all existing Internet users had either bought goods online or said they intended to, the majority of those not online had a list of at least three reasons why they weren't enthusiastic about the world of e-commerce.

The survey was conducted during January this year by sending out 1,000 questionnaires to consumers in the ministry's telecommunication services monitor group. Replies were received from a total of 957 people, of which 450 people, or 47.0 percent, were existing Internet users, according to the report.

Among existing Internet users there was nothing but good news: 32.7 percent of those already online said they have already shopped on the Web while 92.8 percent said they plan to make purchases online. Better yet, no one ruled out the idea of shopping online.

These people named books and magazines as the most popular purchase with 33.3 percent of respondents saying they had bought them. Hotel reservations had been made by 30.7 percent of users, computer and game software had been bought by 28.8 percent of shoppers responding, computers and electrical goods by 23.5 percent and airline and railway tickets by 16.3 percent. Respondents said they used online shopping chiefly because they could buy goods not available locally, 45.1 percent, and because they didn't have to travel to stores to buy the products, 44.4 percent.

When all respondents, including those without Internet connections, were counted the results were not so positive. A little over half -- 56.1 percent -- said they will shop online but this figure fell to around 20 percent among non-Internet users.

Among those not wishing to buy online 73.3 percent cited the wish to see and hold the product as the chief turn-off of Internet shopping. Worries about privacy and credit card numbers were a stumbling block for 67.1 percent while a lack of knowledge about the other party was a problem for 61.8 percent. Just under half were worried about whether they would be able to reclaim money in the event of a problem and just over a third expressed some uneasiness about whether the goods ordered online would ever reach them.

The MPT reported 65.1 percent of responses came from women. In terms of employment, the largest group were the unemployed, which includes housewives, at 45.6 percent, followed by those in the service industries at 32.7 percent.

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