March 13, 2013, 3:48 PM

Two-thirds of global web users buy online monthly

And research and buying is taking place via mobile devices more often.

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If a global online consumer doesn’t make a purchase online, there is a good chance she will use the Internet to research the item before she buys it in a store, a new report finds.

The report, from research firm GlobalWebIndex, is based on interviews with more than 61,000 Internet users in 31 countries between Q2 and Q4 2012. It finds 90% of all those polled used the web in the past month to either buy or research a purchase.

Additionally, 66% of global Internet users have made a purchase via a computer, smartphone or tablet in the last month, the survey finds.

In the Asia-Pacific, consumers are most likely to buy online via a mobile device, while in the U.K. and the U.S., most consumers buy online via a computer.

Still, the role of the smartphone is rising in developed regions as well. For example, in 2009, 10% of U.K. consumers polled said they searched for products via their mobile phone. At the end of 2012 that rose to nearly 30%.

Other findings include:

• 69% of global Internet users publish opinions about purchases via review, blog post, micro-blog (such as Twitter) or social network mention.

• China, Singapore, Hong Kong, Indonesia, India, Malaysia and Vietnam are the top seven mobile / tablet e-commerce markets.  

• Global consumers are most likely to purchase books, clothing and travel products online. Cars, laundry detergent and alcohol are the least popular online buys.

• 80% of Chinese surveyed have made a web purchase in the past month. Additionally, 40% of Chinese say they buy products through smartphones or tablets.

• Desktop computers, mobile phones and travel are the items most commonly researched globally via the web.

• 65% of web users in Poland buy online and 77% have talked online about a purchase they have made in the past month.

“The Internet is now critical to every business,” says Tom Smith, founder of GlobalWebIndex. “Even if products are not actually bought online, they are researched there. Any business that fails to get its digital presence right, including mobile, is losing customers. In addition to the clear evidence from our survey of the impact of digital, the anecdotal evidence of a massive switch in the way we buy products is also overwhelming. Whether it’s stories of people buying tea bags online or using Amazon U.K. to get nappies to Greece, we all know people adopting purchase behavior that would have seemed unthinkable even a few years ago.” Nappy is the British term for diapers.

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