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Shoppers pause before buying big-ticket items online

Big-ticket online purchases deserve additional consideration

Shoppers already purchase food, clothing and shoes online, yet they hesitate before snapping up high-end items, including appliances and furniture, on the web.

A recent poll from FuturePay, a provider of web-based financing services, found while 80 percent of surveyed buyers said they were likely to purchase clothing and shoes online, only 4 in 10 said they would buy appliances and home goods.

"When you're talking about those big-ticket items, that's a riskier purchase for most people and a larger expenditure," said Bobbi Leach, CEO of FuturePay. "People go through more considerations before they make the purchase."

An employee demonstrates connecting to the internet on a Samsung Electronics Family Hub fridge freezer.
Chris Ratcliffe | Bloomberg | Getty Images
An employee demonstrates connecting to the internet on a Samsung Electronics Family Hub fridge freezer.

The company surveyed 1,500 shoppers in the fourth quarter of 2016.

Online vs. in-person

Two-thirds of those who responded said that while they've added a big-ticket item to their online shopping carts, they didn't finalize the purchase.

Among the reasons cited for their reluctance were preferring to see the goods in person, the simplicity of making in-store returns, and the ability to ask a sales associate any questions.

Additionally, 15 percent of participants said they decided not to buy an item online because there weren't any financing options available.

More than half said they would prefer to finance a purchase online if the price tag exceeded $1,000.

Yet those buyers want more than just a credit card: Nearly 3 in 4 said it was "very" or "somewhat important" that online retailers provide payment alternatives aside from plastic.

"The top three considerations for the consumer is to make sure there are no hidden fees, that they have a low rate of interest or low financing charge, and a flexible payment schedule," said Leach.

The costs of financing

Major retailers, including Toys R Us and Sears, offer buyers layaway programs to help handle the cost of a big-ticket purchase. PayPal offers a similar program for online shops, known as PayPal Credit.

Be aware that financing programs at online and brick-and-mortar retailers come with limitations and a varierty of fees.

For instance, you may be required to put some money down before you can participate in a layaway program.

Depending on the retailer and the provider of financing, your balance may also accrue interest as you pay for your item in installments.