Remember the late 1990s, when the Internet boom was in full swing? Everyone was predicting we’d soon be shopping for everything from dog food to cars in our pajamas, and we’d never leave the house.
They were partially right. We still leave the house to go shopping, just perhaps not as frequently as we used to.
Fifty-eight percent of Americans go online to research products and services they are considering purchasing, according to a survey released Wednesday by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project. That’s up from 49 percent in 2004.
Jim Jansen, a senior fellow with the Pew Research Center, said the data show more people are going online first to do things like compare prices or read reviews, even if they end up making the purchase in a brick-and-mortar store.
The survey also found that 24 percent of Americans had posted reviews or comments of products and services online.
More people are also making their final purchases online. The Pew researchers said 52 percent of Americans were purchasing products online as of May 2010, up from 36 percent in May of 2000.
It turns out, there are no gender differences in e-commerce. The researchers said men and women do online research at similar rates.
There are other demographic differences between those who hit the keyboard to research a new refrigerator, and those who hit the appliance store.
The more money people make, the more likely they are to do online shopping research. The researchers said 88 percent of Internet users with a household income of $75,000 or more were using the Internet to research purchases, compared with 67 percent of those who make $30,000 or less.
Internet users over age 65 do much less online product research than younger adults who are online, the researchers found. In addition, African-Americans who use the Internet are much less likely to researche purchases online than whites or Hispanics who use the Internet, according to the Pew survey.