User reviews a must for retail websitesOnline customer reviews are profitable for retailers and help build a sense of community for online shoppers, 82 percent of whom consider such reviews better than researching a product in-store with a sales associate, according to a Power Reviews study conducted by the e-tailing group, MarketingCharts reports. Over one-half of consumers surveyed said they spend 10 or more minutes reading reviews before making a final decision on a purchase. Reviews are a "must-have" merchant functionality to compete online today, the study concluded. The Consumer's View Some 98 percent of surveyed shoppers said they read reviews on retailers' websites prior to making a product purchase, ranging from "once in a while" (9 percent) to "most of the time" (43 percent). Moreover, some seek out independent review sites (34 percent say they do) and read reviews on Amazon (26 percent). The 'Social Researcher' The 65 percent of consumers who read customer reviews "always" or "most of the time" prior to making a decision to purchase a product are dubbed Social Researchers by the study. These consumers are at least 20 percent more likely than average to report as engaging in various aspects of interacting with product reviews:
- 78 percent spend more than 10 minutes in the review reading process.
- 86 percent find customer reviews extremely or very important.
- 76 percent find "top-rated product" lists to be extremely or very important.
- 64 percent research products online more than half the time, no matter where they buy the product (store/web/catalog).
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