JEN­NIFER DUD­LEY-NICHOLSON

Herald Sun - Switched On - - Front Page -

THERE are just 32 shop­ping days left un­til Christ­mas, but gift­buy­ers won’t just pack shop­ping cen­tres this Christ­mas.

Mil­lions will trade heavy lift­ing, carpark rage and queue shuf­fling for the near-ef­fort­less click­ing of online shop­ping.

And some online shop­pers who con­sider that too oner­ous won’t even bother turn­ing on a com­puter to make a pur­chase — opt­ing to use a smart­phone in­stead. Fig­ures re­leased last week show more than four mil­lion Aus­tralians are check­ing prod­uct prices on mo­bile phones be­fore com­mit­ting to buy.

Google Aus­tralia’s re­tail head pre­dicts the trend will sky­rocket in the lead-up to De­cem­ber 25.

Ross Mc­don­ald says 2011 has been the big­gest for online shop­ping in Aus­tralia, eclips­ing last year’s record driven by the strong Aussie dol­lar.

But while shop­ping searches are up 29 per cent, Mc­don­ald says those made on smart­phones are grow­ing even faster.

‘‘ At the mo­ment mo­bile searches make up one in four Pic­ture: Chris Pavlich online shop­ping in­quiries but we think it will get up to one in three in the three weeks lead­ing up to Christ­mas,’’ he says.

‘‘ Online pur­chases are cer­tainly grow­ing and the chal­lenge will be that we’re still in a mar­ket where not all of our favourite re­tail­ers have a fully func­tional online pres­ence.’’

A study by Galaxy Re­search for ebay shows more than 4 mil­lion smart­phone users have com­pared prod­uct prices on the go, and 1.3 mil­lion used a phone to buy items.

Fif­teen per cent of those buy­ers did so while stand­ing in a re­tail store — some­thing ebay Aus­tralia vice-pres­i­dent Deb­o­rah Sharkey says shows online shop­ping is cross­ing bound­aries now there are ‘‘ por­ta­ble shop win­dows sit­ting in con­sumers’ pock­ets’’.

The Aus­tralian Me­dia and Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Au­thor­ity’s new e-com­merce re­port shows mo­bile pur­chases up 66 per cent from the past year.

But re­port author Joseph Di Gre­go­rio says this in­crease came from a low base, with six times as many peo­ple us­ing mo­bile bank­ing as those buy­ing goods on their mo­bile phones.

He says online shop­ping is now a ma­jor re­tail trend in Aus­tralia, with more than half of net-con­nected adults tak­ing part, and 23 per cent mak­ing more than 11 online pur­chases in six months. ‘‘ Many said it was cheaper (to buy online), there’s a bet­ter range of goods and ser­vices, and it’s of­ten the con­ve­nience of online shop­ping that works for time-poor con­sumers,’’ he says.

Beat the Christ­mas crowds by buy­ing online.

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