Most consumers research online before they buy

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Two-thirds of online shoppers carry out internet-based research about retailers before making a purchase, yet only half of retailers actually monitor their own reputation, according to new research by 1&1 Internet.

The hosting firm surveyed over 1,500 consumers and over 400 companies and found that nearly half of UK shoppers read online reviews or recommendations about specific products before buying them.

One in three consumers are willing to publish a review online, 44 per cent of men and 34 per cent of women frequently rely on independent star ratings and rankings, and one in four actively seek customer service commitments on retailers' web sites.

Yet online retailers seem to be ignoring the increasing importance to customers of online reviews, blogs and other information. Some 48 per cent of retailers said that they have no means to help influence or control their online reputation.

Half admitted to having never monitored the internet for comments or customer reviews posted online, and just 30 per cent said that they actively and regularly search the internet for customer comments and reviews published on consumer websites, social networks and blogs.

"At a time of advertising overload, consumers clearly see great value in sharing their knowledge. This is perhaps contributing to a growing confidence to experiment with smaller online retailers," said 1&1 Internet chief executive Oliver Mauss.

"Businesses must monitor such material if they are to protect their revenues and build their brand online."
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