It's the dilemma faced by shoppers and despised by shopkeepers. Would you go into a store, ask to try something on, get the shopkeeper's opinion, scan the barcode and then walk out - and make the purchase online?
The likes of bricks and mortar emporiums such as David Jones and Myer, under pressure from the growing appetite of customers for online purchases, will be heartened to learn that the majority think this is not the right thing to do.
These are the findings of an online survey of 1000 Australians conducted in June by the media buying group MagnaGlobal, which says its client list includes L'Oreal, Microsoft, Hyundai, the federal government and Wesfarmers.
The survey, The Changing Face of Retail, asked respondents to consider the statement: ''I think it's wrong to get a shop assistant to show you something in-store and then go and buy it online.'' Of those surveyed, 39 per cent agreed with the statement, 29 per cent disagreed.
MagnaGlobal says the research was carried out to help marketers navigate the nature of change across all retail sectors and the impact on consumers' path to purchase. Its managing director, Victor Corones, said the study highlighted the ''enormous change'' to shopping habits as consumers find their way around a more complicated retail environment.
''It gives us unprecedented understanding for the development of business and communication strategies across our client base," he said.
The research also showed that international shopping sites are used most often by people looking for a unique product, dispelling popular belief that the key driver to shopping overseas is price.
International sites are being used less often than Australian sites, with 7 per cent of consumers shopping online internationally weekly, compared with 12 per cent shopping weekly at local sites.
However, 28 per cent of those surveyed said they are using international sites more often than they did 12 months ago.
Online shopping is growing most predominantly at the expense of traditional stores in sectors where consumers believe they are not getting favourable in-store experiences, the report said.
It also found the majority of Australians now feel pressure to research everything online before making a purchase, and many feel overwhelmed by the volume of information and deals available.
With one in four shoppers already using a smartphone to check online for a cheaper deal while out shopping, the report said, price comparison apps are beginning to play an important role in influencing consumers across all categories.
The executive director of the Australian Retailers Association, Russell Zimmerman, said traditional retailers needed to combat online channels by ''killing the customer with kindness''.
''We need to make the customer feel so good they will want to come back,'' he said. ''We need to give awesome customer service so that even if they don't buy something this time, they will want to come back again.''
The owner of a family-owned shoe shop in Wollongong decided to take more proactive action to discourage those planning to visit the store with the purpose of later finding an item online.
Ben Porcheddu, whose family has been in shoe retail since 1956, placed a sign next to the Doc Marten boots in his shop that read: ''Don't waste our time trying on shoes to get your size, so you can buy them online, we are a local family business, employing local people, your actions will & are contributing to our demise. Please go elsewhere.''
Mr Porcheddu said many customers were supportive and have said ''good on you''.
''This is my livelihood,'' he said. ''I helped one lady in her 70s try on shoes and she told me she was going to go and buy them online. Some people are on the phone while they are trying them on.
''If we were ripping people off I don't think our business would have survived this long.''
Churlya Wurfel can tell the difference between a ''genuine shopper'' and an internet buyer from the moment the person steps foot inside her evening wear store on Parramatta Road in Annandale.
''If they come in straight away and ask, 'Do you have this?', I ask, 'Where did you get that photo from, is it from my website?''
Ms Wurfel owns and runs Villoni and has worked in retail for 40 years.
''Sometimes they just blurt 'it's from the internet' without realising they have been caught,'' she said.
To deal with the growing number of customers who want to try and not buy from her range of gowns, Ms Wurfel came up with two strategies to keep the internet shoppers at bay - and to keep the money flowing through her three-showroom shop.
Last year, she hired a designer to create unique patterns and sizings that do not match the traditional offerings online, so that customers who try them on in her store will struggle to find a similar style of dress on the internet.
''When we brought in our own designer, that's the one thing that is going to beat the internet,'' she said.
''Our price is [a] good price, but if you want to buy on the internet, it's not fair.''
Ms Wurfel says the other strategy is to take the time to explain the hardships of Australian companies to those customers she suspects are internet shoppers.
This has resulted in 90 per cent of them then choosing to buy from her store.
''We have to give the best service,'' she said. ''We now have very loyal customers.''