Shopping "research" wasn't really something that existed a decade ago. You go to a mall or a store, see what you like or don't like, and then to decide to purchase or not to purchase. It wasn't very efficient to shop around too much; travel time and costs would eat into any savings for cheaper prices. Deals were to be had, but not a terrific amount.
Times are a-changin'. Now, you can look at a dozen different stores in a matter of minutes, quickly scanning their inventory by size, colour, style, model, you name it. You can sign up to be constantly bombarded by coupons and other incentives. You can order items, and have them shipped to your door for free - and if you don't like them, return them for free. All of this remarkable power... right from your home computer or at the bus stop on your smartphone.
Of course, people still want to see things in the flesh - are these clothes well-made, is this television truly high-def, is this BlackBerry really as good as it sounds? In-store shopping has certainly not died and probably never will. But online shopping has enabled shoppers to research their purchase thoroughly before ever stepping foot in a store.
According to a new study conducted by Angus Reid on behalf of Staples Canada, more than three quarters of Canadians will conduct online research before heading out to shop for gifts in-store. Unsurprisngly, this figure is up 26 per cent from last year.
"It shows that the average Canadian does some homework before they open their wallet," said Craig Taylor, vice-president of e-commerce for Staples Business Delivery. "The internet is a great resource for learning about products; it's also the easiest way to save time and money. If you are typically a last-minute shopper, you can find some great savings by shopping or researching online, while saving some time."
While most Canadians will research gift ideas online this year, the survey revealed that 91 per cent of people still plan to purchase gifts in-store - after they have completed their Internet research.