Eight in ten online shoppers (81%) have read consumer-written product or retailer reviews when doing their holiday shopping this year, according to (pdf) a Nielsen Online holiday survey conducted in mid-December, reports Retailer Daily.
Customer reviews are an important research tool for online consumers, with 71% agreeing that consumer reviews make them more comfortable that they are buying the right product, Nielsen found.
When evaluating this customer feedback, 63% of online shoppers indicated that it was important to have multiple reviews for each product; 14% looked for reviews from an established source; and just 3% sought out reviews by people they knew personally.
“Consumer reviews are a must-have for online retailers, especially during the holiday season when shoppers are buying for others in categories they’re less familiar with,” said Ken Cassar, vice-president, industry insights, Nielsen Online. “Perhaps more than any other time of year, consumers are looking for outside feedback for guidance.”
Nearly one-fourth of online shoppers (24%) have spent more than $500 so far this holiday season, with 22% spending between $100-199 online.
The 24/7 shopping convenience of the Web was the reason cited most frequently by respondents (78%) for shopping online.
More than half of respondents (55%) indicated that they visited the website of a local brick- and-mortar retailer before visiting the physical store. The primary reason for going online first was comparing prices between retailers, followed by checking if an item was in stock and looking for sales in stores.
“With strong sales growth online in recent years, online sales have become the sole focus in assessing web retailers’ holiday season success,” said Cassar. “This year, however, retailers should consider the online contribution to store sales, in addition to online sales, when evaluating how well the season went.”
Driving Traffic to Retail Websites
The most popular factor for shopping at a particular online retailer was a consumer having made a purchase there in the past, with 62% of respondents saying so.
Search engines were the second most-popular way to find an online retailer, followed by offline catalogs, with 38 and 31% of respondents, respectively.
These results underscore the importance to consumers of solid, longstanding relationships with retailers they trust, Nielsen said.
About the data: Nielsen Online conducted on online survey December 8-15, 2008 among approximately 1,000 online shoppers in the US who did holiday shopping online last year and/or planned to do so this year.