There's a lot of talk about online shopping these days — more and more Australians are plugging their credit card details into their PCs, laptops and tablets in order to buy goods online.
However, it's no longer a matter of picking a single online retailer, clicking on a desired item and heading to the virtual checkout. Shopping around for a bargain in both bricks-and-mortar and online stores is becoming increasingly popular. But should we be doing it?
Numerous store visits common
According to Mick McCabe, Nielsen's Homescan Shopper Panel Product Leader, shoppers have become an incredibly savvy bunch. Over the past year, one in three grocery trips involved visits to multiple retailers on the same day.
"In today's economy, savvy shoppers are, quite literally, willing to go the extra mile to get what they want," McCabe explained.
Close to one in three shoppers visited more than one of Australia's four key retailers chains in the same week. The numbers speak for themselves — people are not hesitant about shopping around and pulling out their credit cards only when they feel they've got a bargain. There are many reasons why people do this.
Whether you're buying clothes or seeking a car loan, one of the key benefits to shopping around is range.
If you head into a single clothing store, you're limited to its own buyers' or designers' tastes. But if you jump online, you'll be able to access a much greater range of clothing.
Likewise, when looking for financial products, it's worth checking out comparison sites rather than sticking with a single provider's offerings. Access to a broader range means you're more likely to find a product that suits you.
Do you need to pick up a new jacket or pair of shoes before the day's up?
Shopping around requires you to invest a bit of time. However, if you jump online you can also cut out the hassle of leaving the office in your lunch break or finding a car park at your local shopping centre on the weekend.
Shopping around doesn't have to be time consuming if you don't want it to be. In fact, it can actually be a lot more convenient. With a few clicks of the mouse, you could order a new item of clothing, computer part or book a holiday while you're enjoying your morning coffee.
In the year to June, online fashion retail sales increased eight percent, while electronic games experienced an even greater surge (22 percent), according to the National Australia Bank Online Retail Sales Index monthly update for June. Given the convenience online shopping affords, it's no wonder these categories have seen sales growth.
A better price is arguably the key driver for shopping around — and possibly the most controversial.
Traditional stores are often frustrated by shoppers who use up sales assistants efforts in order to find the perfectly sized pair of shoes, only to jump online and buy the item at a cheaper price.
But there are lots of savings to be found online as it's much easier for consumers to spot a great deal by being able to compare multiple products and deals side-by-side.
In today's landscape every penny counts so it's always a wise idea to shop around and compare — regardless of whether you are looking for a new shirt, a credit card or a home loan.