SYDNEY: Nearly 90% of Australian web users regularly look for information about goods and services on the internet, a study has found.

The ARC Centre of Excellence for Creative Industries and Innovation, part of the Institute for Social Research at Swinburne University of Technology, surveyed 1,000 adults in the country.

It reported 89% of users now research product information online, a figure rising from 88% in 2009 and 83% in 2007.

Currently, 21% of the panel looked for such details on the web every day and 38% engaged in this pastime at least weekly, a total standing at 30% for doing so monthly or less.

Turning to ecommerce, 57% of the connected community bought something using the internet in 2007, hitting 74% in 2009 and 78% in 2011.

"While Australian shoppers have for the most part embraced online retail, they have not done so unreservedly," the study said. "They exhibit a strong preference for dealing with websites based in Australia and have concerns about credit card security and the security of their personal information."

During the year to date, 53% of the sample had acquired goods and services via the net monthly or more, and 25% had done so a minimum of once every seven days.

Elsewhere, 60.8% of interviewees either "often" or "sometimes" looked at products online before buying them in a store, while 41.9% took the opposite path to purchase.

Overall, 69% of web users agreed it was difficult to assess product quality using this medium, and 45% believed it could be complicated to return or exchange items obtained online.

Another 70% of contributors suggested it is cheaper to buy things from the internet, and an equal number concurred there was a greater variety of goods available through this channel.

When asked how much they would pay for a digital version of a newspaper costing A$1.50 in hard copy form, only 8.3% of consumers expressed a willingness to match this total.

A further 6% pegged this amount at A$1, while 9.3% may stump up 50¢, and 69.8% "would not consider it" at all, although this figure had fallen from 71.4% in 2009.

Data sourced from Swinburne University; additional content by Warc staff