People may have very little hesitation in spending $3 on a coffee once a week, but when it comes to buying things online, such as virtual goods or services, they are often much more reluctant.

  • Is there a block when it comes to buying things online?
  • If so, why?
  • Is there a name for this phenomenon?
  • Is so, how can someone selling something online (e.g. an online service provider or a software company) get around this and make customers less hesitant when shopping online?
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I read something about this but could never find the paper. Something where people were much more willing to spend money on items they could touch $\endgroup$
    – Ben Brocka
    Jun 6, 2012 at 16:48
  • $\begingroup$ @BenBrocka The new title makes me think of a different question that the original formulation. In the original formulation I thought of going to a book store versus buying a book on Amazon except for cheaper items. The current version of the question seems to be about buying goods that are not physical (not just purchasing physical good via the online medium). Is that the intended question by the OP? In either version, I agree that OP should wait to ask question 3 after receiving answers to 1 and 2. $\endgroup$ Jun 6, 2012 at 16:58
  • $\begingroup$ @ArtemKaznatcheev true, they're very related issues but digital goods didn't need to be included (unless that's what was meant) $\endgroup$
    – Ben Brocka
    Jun 6, 2012 at 17:01
  • $\begingroup$ I wanted to know mainly about goods that are not physical. $\endgroup$ Jun 6, 2012 at 18:13
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ One thing to consider is that it's the norm to pay for coffee, whereas it is the norm for virtual services to be free. So it may not be a matter of virtual vs physical goods, but of what people think is a "fair" price for something based on previous experience. $\endgroup$
    – Jeff
    Mar 30, 2013 at 0:15

1 Answer 1


Grabner-Kräuter et al (2003) suggest that

Lack of trust is one of the most frequently cited reasons for consumers not purchasing from Internet vendors.


  • Grabner-Kräuter, S., & Kaluscha, E. A. (2003). Empirical research in on-line trust: a review and critical assessment. International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, 58(6), 783-812. http://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=941185
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ It looks like a useful reference. It'd be great if you could elaborate to make the answer a little more comprehensive. $\endgroup$ May 23, 2014 at 7:38

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