According to a study by the e-tailing group and PowerReviews around 50% of Internet users now routinely use the web to research products and services before deciding what to buy.
E-marketer reports that even when the customer buys offline, the web often plays a fundamental role in the purchasing decisions that they make. Respondents to the survey said that online research saved them time and made them more confident about the products and services they were buying.
An increasingly important part of that online research process is reading consumer reviews. They can do this on specialist consumer review sites like Irish based LouderVoice.com, on niche vertical market review sites like TripAdvisor, and, increasingly, on retailers’ own websites.
Respondents to the “2010 Social Shopping Study” cited customer reviews as the most critical capability for a retailer to have on their website. 71% of respondents said that reviews had a strong influence on their online purchases, while the figure was just 25% and 17% for Facebook and Twitter respectively. 49% of respondents said that lack of consumer reviews would prompt them to leave the merchant’s site altogether.
Despite these impressive figures that put consumer reviews way ahead of other social components in terms of consumer appeal, an earlier study by e-tailing group showed that merchants lend more weight to Facebook pages and almost as much weight to Twitter. Are they missing a trick? Perhaps! “Customer reviews have become a critical piece of the marketing puzzle, based not only on consumer demand but also on the sales they deliver,” said Pehr Luedtke, CEO of PowerReviews, in a statement.
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