PowerReviews and the e-tailing consultancy group yesterday released the 2011 Social Shopping Study, which looks at how consumers research, select and purchase goods online.
The findings of this year's survey indicate that today's consumers are sophisticated shoppers who dedicate a significant amount of time to researching products prior to purchase, and employ a variety of tools in order to find the best prices.
The study also shows evidence that Facebook exhibits potential for brands and retailers to leverage the site as a means for driving engagement.
The 2011 study is based on a survey of more than 1,000 consumers about their online shopping habits, as well as their level of engagement with brands and retailers across various online channels.
Among the key findings are:
• Seventy percent of people take a day or longer to research purchases, and the same amount say that research takes up to 75 percent or more of their online shopping time;
• Most consumers start their research with a search engine or major retailer's site;
• Customer reviews have the biggest impact on the decision to buy: 90 percent of people said reviews have an impact on their decision; 60 percent say they're the most important factor.
Amazon.com is the defacto site for product reviews and price checking.
• Sixty percent of respondents said they go there first to check prices and look at reviews, and 85 percent said that the site is a factor in their research.
Facebook and social media are starting to play a bigger role in people's shopping habits, but there's still significant room for growth.
• Only one-third of consumers use social media for research;
• While half of respondents have "liked" a brand or product, only a quarter have done so from a retailer's page;
• A large majority said they connect with brands or retailers on Facebook only to get deals.
Mobile usage relative to shopping is mostly centered on competitive pricing.
• One-third of consumers have used their mobile phones from inside a physical store to access promotional coupons, research competitive pricing and check product ratings and reviews;
• Consumers are also becoming more comfortable using the scan functionality on their mobile phones, with approximately one-third of respondents using QR or bar codes to get product information or compare prices.
"This study proves just how much people value each other's opinions about products and services, and how much influence those opinions hold over how people shop and what they buy," said PowerReviews CEO Pehr Luedtke. "Additionally, there remains a significant opportunity for retailers and brands to leverage Facebook as a platform for connecting with customers in order to build engagement and drive sales."