An Australian study has revealed that people in Queensland are increasingly turning to the Internet for online research about what they wish to buy, so that they may pick up bargains.
Experts say that this trend suggests that retailers may have to rethink their sales strategies, and invest in quality sales staff and customer service rather than a state-of-the-art Internet presence.
Alana Jones, a research analyst with the Australian Centre for Retail Studies, revealed that about 50 per cent shoppers carried out online research before visiting stores.
"So it's not too gloom and doom for the high street shop that does not have a large online presence or facility to sell online," the Courier Mail quoted her as saying.
Even though some studies have suggested that people often use catalogues to look for products and then buy them online, the more rapidly growing trend is for people to browse online and then travel to a store to buy the product.
Several companies are said to have picked up the trend, and accordingly introduced searchable gift catalogues online, broken down by shopping centre.
While recent studies have suggested that online retailing will grow by about 5 per cent annually over the next five years, Jones said that fashion would remain a product where online trading was unlikely to dominate because it was a "high involvement" product.
"There has been conjecture that the growth of online will mean the end of big box retailers. But with Australian retailers like, say, Harvey Norman, there is still that consumer need for a high involvement in the sale," she said.
She further said that extensive online research by customers also meant that sales staff needed to be well informed about products.