Trends in Online Shopping

affiliate marketing

The 2016 Online Shopping Study

In December of 2016 the Pew Research Center published a study by Aaron Smith and Monica Anderson titled “Online Shopping and E-Commerce.” 

The subtitle of the report stated, “New technologies are impacting a wide range of Americans’ commercial behaviors, from the way they evaluate products and services to the way they pay for the things they buy.”

First, What is the Pew Research Center?

The Pew Research Center is an organization that conducts public polling, demographics research, and other data-driven research.  According to them, “It studies U.S. politics and policy, journalism and media, internet, science and technology, religion and public life, Hispanic trends, global attitudes and trends, and U.S. social and demographic trends.”  As you can see, the Center is involved in studying much of social and human interaction.

So, What’s Going On Online?

Well, if you could condense the 25-page study down to one sentence, It would be, “More and more Americans are buying and selling online, and the trend is for that behavior to continue to increase.”

You really can’t condense a detailed study down so small, because you’d leave too much out.  Here are some highlights of the study:

  • Roughly 8 in 10 Americans shop online
  • 15% buy online on a weekly basis
  • 51% have purchased online using a cell phone
  • 15% have made an online purchase by following a link from social media
  • In 2000, just over 2 in 10 Americans had purchased online.

While the trend indicates increased online activity, some people still enjoy the benefits of shopping at a brick-and-mortar store:

  • 64% of Americans prefer buying from a store, all things being equal
  • 21% would buy from a store without comparing online prices

People are relying more on reviews

More than 8 in 10 Americans now say that they consult online ratings and reviews when buying something for the first time.  4 in 10 say that they nearly always turn to online reviews when buying a new product, and nearly half of Americans say that customer reviews “help a lot” to make them feel confident about what they are planning to buy, and that the reviews make companies more accountable to their customers.

This has been my own experience.  If I plan to make a major purchase, I will review the product as much as I can online to get a reasonable idea of the quality and value of the product, as well as comparisons of similar products.  I have done this purchasing cameras, bicycles, and other items.  Now it’s easy to compare even smaller products, such as gloves, helmets, etc.

Even so, many online purchasers express concerns over whether or not the reviews they read can be trusted.  The breakdown is 51-48; 51% say that reviews are generally accurate, and 48% say it’s hard to tell whether the review is truthful or unbiased.

Online commerce is changing how we use money

More and more, shoppers are moving away from cash:

  • 24% of Americans say that none of the purchases they make in a typical week involve cash
  • 39% don’t worry about having cash on hand
  • The older generation and low income Americans tend to rely on cash more

Other trends:

  • 12% of Americans have paid for an in-store purchase by swiping or scanning their cell phones at the register
  • Awareness of bitcoin is high – 48% have heard of the alternative currency, but,
  • just 1% has actually used, traded, or collected bitcoins.
  • 39% of Americans have shared their commerce experiences on social media

The rising generation is “online savvy”

According to the study, Americans under the age of 50 are the ones who are the most comfortable with the internet.  They are the ones breaking with the old traditions of cash and physical stores, and are turning to the convenience of online shopping, and using technology to pay for purchases both online and in stores.

It was aroung the mid 1990s when internet shopping started to take hold.  It was 1994 when the earliest e-commerce transactions occurred.  That’s less than 25 years ago.  Americans who are 50 now were in their 20s then, so it’s easy to see why the younger generation is more comfortable with online commerce.

That trend will continue.  People are growing up with the internet, and shopping online has ceased to be a novel experience and has become commonplace for the rising generation.

What does this mean for online entrepreneurs?

The future is bright for those who understand online marketing and how to reach the growing population of online shoppers.  As an online business owner, you can attract customers by learning what their trends and preferences are and catering to those preferences.

If your dream is to own your own business, then owning an online business is a wise choice for you.  The mystery of online success has been solved!  The customer base is growing and the amount of products purchased on line is growing as well.  Start now to earn your share of the millions of dollars spent annually online.  I can show you how, and you can start for FREE!

Wealthy Affiliate is the premier online training platform for anyone starting a business on the web.  You can read my review here.



Great article, Grant! I agree completely with your points. I rarely use cash anymore and have begun using Bitcoin and Ethereum. In my neck of the woods, I can help but notice how many well know retailers have closed down shop. It is like you say, more and more are shopping online. For larger purchases, it is prudent to read product reviews and buy from trusted sources. Wealthy Affiliate makes it easy to creat niche sites to provide these reviews and benefit from the referral.

Thanks, NathanG.  It’s good to hear your perspective.  I haven’t tried bitcoin yet.  I’m from the older generation so I have to try things slowly, I guess.

Hallo there,

I have been researching on affiliate marketing to see if it really something I will be earning with the next 5 years to come, and from the trends you have shown here, it sure is.

I am definitely going to get started with it.

I think affiliate marketing keep growing in demand as more merchants take their product promotion online and as more customers demand more information before purchasing. Right?

Sure looks that way to me, Dave. Bright days ahead for affiliate marketing. Thanks for your comment.


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