Practical Ecommerce

Chart of the Week: Barriers to Online Holiday Shopping

During the holidays, ecommerce merchants have advantages over their brick and mortar counterparts. Convenience and round the clock shopping are two of those advantages.

But a businessperson who wants to expand sales would be well served to look at his or her disadvantages as an online merchant. One of the areas The Nielsen Company explored in a recent holiday survey was those disadvantages.

In this “Chart of the Week” you can see that consumers don’t want to pay additional money for shipping and handling and they will, in some cases, avoid shopping online for that very reason. In previous Practical eCommerce articles we have investigated ways to lesson or eliminate shipping costs for the consumer.

Other consumers feel the need to see or touch a product. This, too, is an obstacle that could potentially be avoided with the use of a product video or demonstration– as discussed in “Video Boosts Online Sales”.

By understanding your company’s disadvantages, you may be able to lessen them.

Practical Ecommerce

Practical Ecommerce

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  1. mereditherin December 8, 2009 Reply

    Odd that shipping and handling is such a deterrent. It’s well worth a few bucks to me to avoid crowds, traffic, long lines, paying for gas, wear on my car, etc. Even if I could go out with no traffic to an empty store, it still takes time just to get dressed and go over to the store. I’d so much rather order things at home in my PJs 24 hours a day. They should rename shipping charges and call them convenience charges. That is how I look at them.

  2. Jagath Narayan December 8, 2009 Reply

    Shipping & handling is just one more "psychological hurdle" that the consumer has to overcome to make that purchase. The first, obvious, hurdle is to get them to open their wallet and pull out the credit card. Shipping & handling is the next one. Typing up personal information is another one. Merchants who can eliminate as many "hurdles" as possible will eventually do better off.

    Regarding shipping and handling, it may make sense to absorb that cost in the product price (across various products), and then provide free shipping and handling for purchases of certain dollars and above. By offering free shipping, you are removing one more psychological hurdle from the shopping experience.

    Another interesting approach is the Amazon Prime model where two-day shipping is free for all purchases irrespective of purchase dollar amount. But, such a model would be difficult to implement for small businesses with lower volumes.

  3. Jagath Narayan December 8, 2009 Reply

    Just to add to my earlier point, try listening to the latest TV commercial from Walmart (about Christmas shopping and buying online from See how you like the sound of "and the best part? shipping is completely free".

    That has a ring to it which will want consumers to at least take a look at what the webstore has to offer. Walmart has to be recovering the cost of "free shipping" using some other means, but the tone of the commercial is great to attract traffic to their site.

  4. Viv December 8, 2009 Reply

    I agree with Jagath that S/H is a "psychological hurdle" that people have to overcome in making those online purchases. To help people with this, lots of stores are doing Free Shipping this holiday season. Just take a look at and and you’ll see lots of store emails are advertising this.