Details can be found at: http://www.cc.gatech.edu/gvu/user_surveys/User_Survey_Home.html
The preliminary results of the third survey of the World Wide Web carried out by the US’s Georgia Institute of Technology shows that Net surfers are getting older and richer but are still hesitant about Net commerce. The last survey was completed in April 1995 (a long time in cyberspace!).
The Institute polled over 13,000 Web users for personal details and their personal predictions for the Internet’s commercial future. In addition to the traditional Internet user community, they also trawled the list of Prodigy’s online service subscribers.
Compared with the preceding survey, the average age of the respondents increased by four years to 35 years and this average age increase was accompanied by an increase in average earnings.
The number of male respondants declined by 8% to 82% while there was an increase in female respondants of 6% to 16% (2% said that they would rather not say). There was no difference, however, when the respondents were asked if they would countenance charges for Web materials: 23% said that they would not agree to pay fees to Web sites.
Several other differences were uncovered by the study. US users were slightly more concerned about cost and quality than Europeans but this was largely unchanged from the last survey. Security for financial transactions headed the list of concerns and the majority of respondents considered it “foolish to provide credit information online.”
For commercial Web usage to become a reality, confidence will have to be gained, but this was clearly not a technology issue for the respondents.
The sanction of even Microsoft was insufficient to provide the needed reassurance, and it seemed that only well know financial institutions could provide the missing impetus.
Hereabouts, Barclays Merchant Services, a division of Barclays Bank, is sailing into the customer confidence controversy with its “virtual shopping mall”, Barclay Square. Barclays, the UK’s largest processor of plastic card transactions, has created a Web site that includes virtual shopfronts for some of the best known names in UK retailing including Argos, Toys ‘R’ Us, Eurostar channel tunnel rail service, and Sainsbury’s. Barclay Square uses Netscape Commerce Server software that features an encryption system that protects customers details from Net snoopers. Barclay Square is at http://www.itl.net/ barclaysquare/