Online shopping is no longer considered an activity best pursued in private. As Web-based social networking permeates daily living, e-commerce too is becoming more of a communal experience.
According to a recent survey on online shopping preferences, consumers pointed to various aspects of Web 2.0 technology as being the key factors that bring them back to a particular shopping site. More than 60 percent of respondents to the nationwide survey reported being attracted to online retailers that employ Web 2.0 tools and techniques, such as information sharing and continuously evolving content.
Specifically, 35 percent of survey respondents said they would return to a merchant's site that provided recommendations on products or services. Another 26 percent indicated they want "a unique experience each time" they return to a site.
Feedbackthe matching bookend to recommendationswas also a Web site magnet, with 18 percent of respondents saying they would come back to shop at an e-store that solicits their feedback.
"The economy is fragile and the competition for the consumer dollar is fierce, but as these findings make abundantly clear, online commerce is now a two-way streetand retailers need to embrace that reality," says Jason Meugniot, president and chief executive of Guidance, the Web technology company that sponsored the research.
"Online consumers and merchants are in dialogue as never before, and consumers are counting on each other for insights in making purchase decisions," Meugniot says. "Recommendations have become the new currency of online commerce, along with their corollary, the opportunity to give feedback to the e-commerce site."
While consumers place a high value on peer input to help steer their shopping decisions, that sense of community must be organic, not contrived. Just 6 percent of survey respondents said they're most likely to return if the site makes them feel part of a community with other visitors.
The survey was conducted in March by Synovate on behalf of Guidance, and compiled responses from 1,000 online shoppers.
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Auctiva staff writers constantly monitor trends and best practices of those selling on eBay and elsewhere online. They attend relevant training seminars and trade shows and regularly discuss the market with PowerSellers and other market experts.