Among the survey's findings:
- $7.5 billion in goods and service sales were affected by online research last year, according to a survey performed by CyberDialogue.
Of that number, $4.2 billion worth of goods were bought offline.
Of the goods purchased online, two-thirds were bought directly from a Web site whose address was found either through a search engine or offline, with less than a third of the sales coming from banner ads.
"Consumers tend to use the Internet more like an electronic yellow pages than like an online direct marketing response medium," Cyber Dialogue vice president Thomas Miller said in a news release.
One area where consumers do far more shopping then buying online is travel, said Ken Orton, CEO of online travel agency Preview Travel.
Orton said that of the people who stop by the site and price a flight, only about 6 or 7 percent actually buy a ticket. But consumers are doing more and more of their travel research online.
"We're still very early in conversion of people who use the research tool. But over time, we're seeing those numbers getting better," he said. "The next phase will be people saying, 'While I'm here, why not just do it?' "
An encouraging sign for the online travel industry is that consumers are becoming much more comfortable electronic ticketing.
E-ticketing has tripled
According to research from the Airlines Reporting Corp., which handles ticket processing for travel agencies and airline carriers, e-ticketing has tripled since the beginning of the year.
About 18 percent of airline transactions from travel agents are e-tickets, in which agencies issue reservation numbers that can be redeemed for boarding passes and receipts at kiosks at the airport.
Preview said Wednesday that electronic tickets now account for 42 percent of all airline transactions at the site.
And as consumers get more comfortable with handling their tickets electronically, they'll get more comfortable completing the entire transaction over the Net, said Orton.
"Travel is really an electronic transaction anyway," he said.