Survey: What is the hardest product to buy online?

Inspired by Shopify's 130+ Dropshipping Products To Sell for Profit (2023) we ran a survey to find the hardest category of product to buy online. Car accessories are the hardest overall and phone accessories are the easiest. There are a lot of interesting details when we break this down, so read on.


Car Accessories was found to be the most difficult category to shop for online. This might be due to the fact that car parts are often specific to the model and make of the car. It requires a precise understanding and knowledge of the product needed. Additionally, quality and authenticity are also significant factors, as incorrect or substandard products could lead to car damage or safety issues.

Tools and Home Improvement and Home Interiors are next on the list, indicating a relatively high level of difficulty. For these categories, factors such as the need for tactile feedback (to assess quality or material), size, and color accuracy might contribute to the challenge. These items are also typically larger and heavier, which could pose logistical concerns for shoppers such as shipping cost and return difficulties.

Baby items and Apparel and Footwear also score high on the difficulty scale. The need for safety and quality assurance might be paramount for baby products. For apparel and footwear, fit and comfort are challenging to assess online. Color discrepancies between online images and the actual product, as well as sizing inconsistencies across brands, could also contribute to the difficulty.

Beauty and Personal Care and Kitchen and Dining are in the mid-range. Here, product specifics such as ingredients, material quality, or product effectiveness might be difficult to verify online.

Office Products, Pet Supplies, and Phone Accessories were found to be the least difficult categories to shop for online. These categories might be easier due to a higher standardization of products and less requirement for a physical touch or fit assessment.


  1. Apparel and Footwear: Females find this category slightly more difficult to shop for than males, with ratings of 6.44 and 6.08, respectively. This could be due to more variations in sizing and styles for women's clothing and shoes, making the online shopping experience potentially more challenging.
  2. Beauty and Personal Care: Males find this category marginally more challenging than females, with ratings of 6.22 compared to 5.99. This could be because these products often require detailed knowledge about personal preferences, skin type, and colors, which some men might find more challenging to select online.
  3. Kitchen and Dining: This category shows an almost identical level of difficulty for both genders, with 6.02 for females and 6.02 for males. This could suggest that the challenges in this category, such as evaluating product quality or functionality, are universally shared regardless of gender.
  4. Baby: Females find this category slightly more difficult to shop for than males, with ratings of 6.37 compared to 6.17. Women may engage more in buying baby products, making them more aware of the complexities involved, such as safety standards and product specifications.
  5. Pet Supplies: This category is perceived as more challenging by males with a score of 5.66 compared to 5.42 for females. The reason behind this is not immediately clear and might need further investigation.
  6. Office Products: Males find this category more difficult than females, with ratings of 6.11 compared to 5.70. Perhaps some men might find it harder to decide on these products without physically seeing or testing them.
  7. Phone Accessories: This category is seen as more difficult by females, scoring 5.52 compared to 5.19 for males. Men might generally be more comfortable with technology-related decisions, including phone accessories, than women.
  8. Tools and Home Improvement: Both genders find this category challenging, but females find it a bit more so, with scores of 6.74 and 6.56 for females and males, respectively. Complexity in choosing the right tool or material for specific home improvement tasks might contribute to this.
  9. Home Interiors: Similar to the previous category, females find this more difficult than males, with scores of 6.68 and 6.53 respectively. The vast range of choices and the need to match items with existing décor could make this category particularly challenging.
  10. Car Accessories: Interestingly, this is the most difficult category for males, with a rating of 6.95 compared to 6.63 for females. Given that men are stereotypically more involved in car maintenance and enhancement, they might be more aware of the difficulties in finding the right accessories online.

Overall, Tools and Home Improvement for females and Car Accessories for males are the most challenging categories. The data could reflect a general trend that when individuals are more involved or knowledgeable in a specific category, they are also more aware of its complexities, making it harder to shop for those items online.



The "Apparel and Footwear" category is ranked relatively easy to shop for online, with scores ranging from 3.35 in the West to 4.27 in one of the Midwest regions. The slight difference between these scores might be due to factors like quality of product images and descriptions or user experience on the shopping websites, affecting the perceived difficulty of shopping.

"Baby" products are also generally easier to shop for, with scores all below 4 except in the West and South, which are identical at 3.9. It's possible that these regions have more rural areas where in-person shopping options might be less accessible, leading to a higher reliance and therefore greater ease with online shopping.

"Beauty and Personal Care" products had a significant outlier in one of the Midwest regions, where the difficulty score spiked to 5. This might be due to region-specific needs or preferences in beauty and personal care items that are not well-served by online retailers.

For "Car Accessories," one Midwest region rated it considerably easier to shop, at 2.52, compared to other regions. This could be due to higher levels of car ownership or a culture of DIY car maintenance in this region, thus leading to more familiarity with online shopping for car accessories.

"Home Interiors" had a relatively consistent score across all regions, but again, one of the Midwest regions found it easier, giving a score of 2.8. The consistency could indicate similar online offerings across regions, and the Midwest outlier could be due to regional trends in home décor or housing types.

"Kitchen and Dining" scored higher in both Midwest regions, suggesting it might be harder to shop for these items online there compared to other regions. Perhaps local preferences in the Midwest are less catered to by standard online offerings in this category.

"Office Products" scored highest in the South, at 5, and lowest in the Midwest, at 3.465. This suggests the South may have unique requirements for office products that are not being met by online retailers.

"Pet Supplies" saw a difficulty spike in the South, at 4.65, compared to other regions. This could potentially reflect regional differences in pet ownership types or needs, or possibly lower availability of specific pet products in the South.

"Phone Accessories" was rated as hardest to shop for in one of the Midwest regions, with a score of 5.215. This could be due to regional differences in phone usage, or possibly due to less accessibility to physical retail stores for these items.

Finally, "Tools and Home Improvement" had consistently low scores across regions, with the highest score in the West, at 3.868. This could suggest that online offerings for this category are generally satisfactory across the board.

Overall, these differences indicate regional differences in shopping experiences and preferences, suggesting that e-commerce businesses should consider tailoring their approach by region to improve the shopping experience.



For the age group 18-24, the most difficult product category to shop for online appears to be 'Car Accessories', with a rating of 7.06, followed closely by 'Beauty and Personal Care', with a rating of 6.955. The easiest category for this age group is 'Phone Accessories', with a rating of 5.065. It's possible that younger individuals may not have as much experience or knowledge with car-related items, hence finding it more challenging to shop for. To address this, ecommerce companies could provide more detailed product descriptions and customer reviews.

The 25-34 age group found 'Tools and Home Improvement' the most challenging with a score of 6.9, while 'Phone Accessories' were the easiest with a rating of 5.333. This might be due to a lack of practical experience or knowledge with home improvement tools, and the wide variety of such products available. Companies could provide instructional videos or buying guides to help customers make more informed decisions.

For ages 35-44, 'Home Interiors' is perceived as the most challenging category with a score of 7.36. This might be due to the subjective nature of interior design and the difficulty in judging items based on images alone. The simplest category was 'Beauty and Personal Care'. Online stores could address this by offering virtual tours or augmented reality technology to visualize how the items would fit in the buyer's home.

Individuals aged 45-54 found 'Tools and Home Improvement' to be the most difficult category, with a score of 6.868, while 'Pet Supplies' was the easiest with a rating of 5.28. This could potentially be due to a lack of familiarity with digital tools or the abundance of product options. To improve the shopping experience, ecommerce platforms could offer personalized recommendations based on the user's browsing history and preferences.

For those over 54, 'Car Accessories' and 'Baby' products were rated as the hardest categories to shop for online, with ratings of 7.083 and 6.655 respectively, and 'Pet Supplies' was the easiest. This could potentially be due to difficulties in navigating the online space or lack of familiarity with the types of products available. Here, ecommerce companies could offer a simplified user interface and improve customer service availability to assist these customers.

Our survey ran in May 2023 via Pollfish and reached 100 US adults.

Recent Stories


Why sell Ping Pong Tables on Shopify: Discover the untapped potential of selling ping pong tables on Shopify. Dominate a niche market, create multiple revenue streams, and maximize profitability.

Why sell Shuffleboard Tables on Shopify: Discover the lucrative opportunity of selling shuffleboard tables on Shopify. Target a niche market, leverage Shopify's features, and implement effective...

Why sell Air Hockey Tables on Shopify: Discover the theory and strategy behind selling Air Hockey Tables on Shopify. Tap into the gaming market and leverage Shopify's user-friendly platform...

Why sell Poker Tables on Shopify: Discover the secrets to profiting from selling poker tables on Shopify. Learn how to identify your target audience and leverage Shopify's powerful features.

Why sell Skeeball Machines on Shopify: Discover the profitable world of selling Skeeball Machines on Shopify. Understand the theory, strategies, and benefits that can lead to entrepreneurial...

Why sell Home Bars on Shopify: Discover the profitable world of selling Home Bars on Shopify. Learn how to tap into a niche market, leverage e-commerce convenience, and maximize your...

Why sell Arcade Game Machines on Shopify: Discover the profitable power of selling Arcade Game Machines on Shopify. Nostalgia, customization, and limited competition make this a winning combo....

Why sell Dart Boards on Shopify: Unleash the power of dart boards on Shopify! Learn how to tap into a niche market, leverage the surge of home entertainment, and why Shopify is the perfect...

Why sell Foosball Tables on Shopify: 'Unlock profitability by selling Foosball Tables on Shopify. Discover the theory, strategy, and advantages that make this a profitable venture. Let the...

Why sell Pool Tables on Shopify: Want to make big profits selling pool tables on Shopify? Discover the theory, advantages, and Shopify's features that can help you succeed in this niche.