Blog: Leonie BarrieInternet finger-fall

Leonie Barrie | 2 May 2007

So much for shopping online from the comfort of your own home: a new study suggests that almost 80% of internet shoppers check items out in ‘bricks and mortar’ shops before they buy online. The findings also cast doubt on the environmental impact of online shopping, particularly the way products are delivered and whether the online shopping journey purely substitutes or creates additional journeys.

It’s an interesting perspective, especially when you consider that e-tail is growing 15 times faster than the overall retail sector and by 2010 the home shopping market is expected to be worth in the region of GBP57bn, almost double 2005 revenues. But the good news is that traditional shops will continue to be important – especially in clothing since people like to touch and feel products before they buy. And even as technology improves, it is unlikely that this need will go away.

Over the past couple of years I’ve become an avid fan of online clothes shopping, particularly on those sites that give detailed measurements of the garments, sharp close-up shots of the fabrics and there’s a fast, efficient and free returns policy. In fact, I could easily do all my wardrobe shopping this way, and when it works – that is, the garment fits – it’s infinitely preferable to traipsing around the high street. But yes, the impact of my purchases on the environment does concern me, especially when the courier has to make two journeys: one to deliver and one to collect for a return. Even he had to admit recently that business is booming “because companies make it so easy to order online.” But it was more than a little embarrassing when he handed over my parcel and added: “Shall I wait here while you try it on.” Returns must be more common than I thought.

Motoring towards 2050: Shopping and Transport Policy


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