September 1, 2010, 3:35 PM

Many online shoppers rely on reviews

A survey finds 92% of web users read reviews when considering a purchase.

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Product reviews make or break purchase decisions, suggest survey data from ChannelAdvisor Corp., a web marketing services firm.

The survey of 300 web users found 92% read product reviews when considering a purchase. Of those consumers, 46% said product reviews influenced them to make purchases, while 43% said product reviews deterred them from buying. 3% said reading reviews did not influence their purchase decisions.

The finding echoes research from other firms. Opinion Research Corp. last year found that 84% of Americans reported online reviews influenced their purchasing decisions. For e-retailers, such findings add urgency to deploying reviews on web sites prior to the holiday shopping season, ChannelAdvisor says in its 2010 Consumer Shopping Habits white paper.

The ChannelAdvisor survey also reported on other factors that guide online purchases.

Price mattered most, with 67% of respondents saying they would buy from an unknown e-retailer if it offered a better value than better-known merchants. After price, free shipping and trusted seller status had the greatest influence. Consumers said they measured their trust in a site by site security, including security certifications from firms such as McAfee or Verisign. Consumers also took into account overall site appearance.    

Consumers start 59% of their gift shopping trips on search engines, the survey found. 28% of consumers start their gift shopping at marketplaces such as Amazon and just 10% start with a retailer’s web site. ChannelAdvisor recommends e-retailers get their search engine keyword bids organized and data feeds up to date.

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