Posted by: nickgerlich | February 20, 2008

Here It Goes Again

Just when you think we’ve gotten over the hump, along comes another report showing that people still have many of the same fears about e-commerce as they had ten years ago. Turns out that security is still the primary concern.

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

eCartSometimes it seems like we’re on a treadmill, never really getting anywhere, making great strides, but albeit in the same place. Sure, younger people are more likely to turn to the web for bargains, as the report shows, but all age groups still harbor concerns about their own security whilst shopping online.

Unfortunately, perception can become reality. And it doesn’t help when the media continue to pound us with reports of identity theft and credit card fraud.

Truth be known (and I love the truth), as long as your computer is protected with the latest security system, you have a much higher chance of being victimized just by handing your credit card over to an unknown server in a restaurant, or by failing to shred your junk mail.

At the core of this issue is the fundamental consumer behavior matter of risk. Just like with buying product or service, the method one uses to make said purchase is just as much a choice. And there are always risks involved in choice. To wit:

  • Financial risk. Most consumer choices involve money, so there is always the chance a poor decision can be made.
  • Physical risk. Some products endanger the user and/or the people nearby, such as tobacco, alcohol, and firearms. The same could also be said of fatty foods, though.
  • Personal (social) risk. Our possessions are a reflection of who we are, and as much as we might like to influence what others think of us, there is often a disconnect here. You may think your dress-down hole-in-the-jeans casual look is trendy, but others may think you are a hobosexual (thank you, UrbanDictionary).
  • Societal risk. ALso incorporating environmental risk, this aspect accounts for the broader impacts on society at large. A 2004 study cited in the venerable Wikipedia says there are over 243 million passenger vehicles in the US, all contributing to traffic, air pollution, and growing waste lines.
  • Technical risk. Any purchase involving technology in the transaction can bring risk upon the user, ranging from over-charges on a credit catrd while in a retail store, to making accidents while ordering something online (like buying an airline ticket for the wrong day). Oh yeah…and this is where one might also be victimized by fraud, whether online or a corrupt server down at Chili’s, or someone hacking into a restaurant’s system, like befell our local Zoo-Kini’s.

But risk is something we deal with each and every time we stick our head outside of our door. It is sad, but sometimes bad things happen (like the tragedy at NIU yesterday). Accidents occur on the freeway; smoke long enough and you might die from it; eat at the Heart Attack Grill, and pay for your cardiologist’s new Lexus.

It’s time for us to get off the treadmill, and to bring those suffering from interia with us. OK go.

Dr “And You Can View The Video Here” Gerlich

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