June 30, 2011, 10:53 AM

Social tools keep shoppers on retailers’ sites, a report finds

Consumers spend time reading reviews and checking their online social networks before purchasing.

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Consumers spend more than twice the time on e-retail sites that provide social content, such as product reviews, than e-retail sites that don’t, according to a new report from social commerce service provider Reevoo.

The report, based on the results of an online survey of 1,200 U.K. consumers conducted in March, says 90% of consumers spend at least 24 hours researching purchases when the product costs 200 pounds ($320.28) or more, yet only spend about six minutes with an e-retailer looking at product pages or completing the checkout process. For e-retailers that feature social commerce content like consumer-generated product reviews and product recommendation tools, time on site increases 133% to 14 minutes.

The report also says 39% of consumers will check with their friends on Facebook for help making a purchase decision. But that doesn’t mean that shoppers are eager to shop on the social network, the report finds. Fewer than 5% of consumers surveyed said they’d completed a purchase within Facebook.

“While it’s vital for retailers to fine-tune their on-site experience to ensure that consumers get what they need to make a purchase, this is no longer enough,” says Richard Anson, Reevoo CEO and founder. “Retailers need to engage with shoppers everywhere.”

This includes on mobile devices. 38% of consumers report using their mobile phones to research product purchases in some way, and one-third of these consumers say they use them to check prices or read reviews. 87% of respondents say they sometimes or always read reviews before making a purchase decision and 69% say they trust reviews more when bad reviews are included.

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