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"Window shopping" is used for a consumer who has no intent to purchase and I believe the term originated well before shopping became accessible online.

Is there a different term for online-window-shopping.

window shop

window shop

  • There's no official body who regulates the English language; it's constantly growing, shifting, and changing as the world in which it operates grows, shifts, and changes. So in general there's nothing to stop you from doing what you like with it; the only obstacle to overcome for novel usage is clarify and efficiency in communication of your idea to your audience. Which is a long way of saying yes, it's perfectly fine to extend the window-shopping metaphor to the online world. I'm sure it's been done before, and in any case it's quite clear what you mean. – Dan Bron Oct 22 '14 at 13:12
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    I've seen this metaphor extended to an even more abstracted scenario: friend checking out attractive women in a bar, me: "Dude, you're married." friend: "Oh, I'm just window-shopping." BTW, another well-known and highly-extended metaphor for someone who is in your shop, browsing, asking you questions about the product, and using up your time, but who has no intention to buy is a "tire-kicker". – Dan Bron Oct 22 '14 at 13:15
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    I rarely use the term window shopping; I'm just browsing, whether it's on a window or through a window. – choster Oct 22 '14 at 14:47
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    Certainly, if you're browsing the web and someone asks you what you're looking for, saying "I'm only window shopping" would be a meaningful answer to most US English speakers. – Hot Licks Oct 22 '14 at 15:07
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Internet browsing - Window Shopping Online (from www.sites.google.com)

Traditional In-Store Browsing vs. Online Browsing

  • Traditional window shopping or browsing allows the shopper to gather information about products through using their eyes, nose, and fingers. From a merchant’s perspective, window shopping highlights certain products for customers via in store displays and promotions. Browsing is integral to the general shopping experience in a physical store and in an online environment.

  • Online shopping provides convenient access, a large selection, and available product information. Other advantages to shopping online include speed, lack of sales pressure, and lack of crowds. Many online shoppers feel that they have more freedom and control in the virtual marketplace as opposed to the physical. (Wolfinbarger & Gilly, 2001)

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