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Search is Key to Online Shopping

You can't exactly try before you buy when shopping online, but search may offer the next best thing.

A study released on Monday found that a majority of Americans rely on search engines to investigate products before purchasing them.

Harris Interactive conducted the study, "How America Searches: Online Shopping," and icrossing, an independent search engine marketing agency, commissioned it.

The study affirms icrossing's business model, of course, but it also confirms just how important searching is to buying. A full 88 percent of respondents conduct at least a bit of online research before clicking the Buy button.

Moreover, 67 percent of online adult shoppers who research products online before making a purchase decision use search engines to conduct that research; 40 percent of them visit search engines first.

Those searchers are looking not only for product information, but for online retailers where they can buy the product. After search engines, fifty-seven percent of the respondents turn to retailers' Web sites to find product information.

Comparison-shopping service reports regular pre-holiday spikes in traffic, with the winter holiday gift season being the busiest time. The back-to-school period is second in terms of traffic to the site.

Those shoppers aged 55 and over who use search engines to conduct research are more likely to click on sponsored links, as well. While 56 percent of their younger counterparts clicked on sponsored links, that proportion rose to 75 percent for the mature shoppers.

In the icrossing study, the reliance on the Web was more pronounced when it came to travel, with 72 percent of online adults who buy airline tickets, hotel rooms or other travel products online said they made travel arrangements online more often than offline.


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