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Women are Ireland's top e-shoppers

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Online shopping in Ireland is a woman's world according to a new study by researchers from Dublin City University (DCU).

The survey, conducted by Dr Regina Connolly and Dr Sarah Ingle of DCU, asked users of online retailer Buy4Now about their shopping habits and found that 70 per cent of users were women aged between 30 and 50.

"It is quite unusual compared to the US and UK," said Dr Connolly. "There are more women than ever before in the workplace and more of them are technically proficient."

She said it was difficult to say why so few men use the service, but that grocery shopping, which Dr Connolly said is predominantly done by women, may be a factor as Superquinn is an anchor tenant with Buy4Now.

The survey received 359 responses from users of 14 vendors on Buy4Now. It found that 76 per cent of respondents have third level qualifications but that only 17 per cent of these had studied any kind of computer science based course.

"It's not just people with a background in technology shopping online," said Dr Connolly. The most common qualifications were in business courses, which accounted for 29 per cent, while 17 per cent had humanities qualifications, she explained.

The survey found that 15 per cent of shoppers buy products online at least once a week, with 29 per cent doing so on a monthly basis and 27 per cent shopping online once every two or three months.

The most popular products bought online are CDs and DVDs, which account for 27 per cent of sales. These are followed by airline tickets at 24 percent and groceries at 14 per cent. Dr Connolly said these trends were in line with other countries such as the US or Britain.

When Irish shoppers spend online they tend to spend considerable amounts, with 47 per cent of respondents saying they typically spend between €50 and €149 each time they go online. Another 14 per cent said they spend over €250 each time they shop online with just 21 per cent spending under €50 per purchase.

The study found that efficiency, fulfilment and system availability were the three most important factors for consumers. Dr Connolly said consumers wanted a service that was easy to access, delivered goods quickly and didn't crash.

The survey found the greatest discrepancy between the views of online vendors and shoppers was in the area of privacy, which Dr Connolly said "tends to be glossed over by vendors." She said retailers were providing adequate measures to protect privacy but need to highlight the measures more in order to reassure consumers.

Copyright © 2007, ENN

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