Every year, we see continual growth in the online shopping world. Customers are continually looking to the web more and more for product research before making buying decisions.
Data from "The 2011 Social Shopping Study" (a recent study by the e-tailing group and PowerReviews) indicates that 50% of consumers spend 75% or more of their total shopping time conducting online product research, with 15% spending 90% or more of their shopping time in this manner.
In 2010, only 21% of consumers spent 75% or more of their shopping time conducting online product research, meaning this percentage has more than doubled in one year.
I think the real challenge for businesses going forward will be learning how to provide the right answers to their customers questions. Brands that can adapt early, and become a trusted source of value-based content for their customers, will take the lead in the online research wars.
Social media has become the perfect tool for connecting customers to the content that they are looking for. Companies that don't blog, or provide visitors with free white-papers or ebooks, will continually become less and less relevant in their respective markets.
This study only provides more proof that when it comes to customers - content is king.
Need proof? Take a look at Amazon. Why are they the biggest and best online retailer? Well, for one thing, look at their product pages. Not only do they have abundant amounts of product information, but they offer more product reviews than any other site. Customers come back because Amazon.com makes it easy to do the research that they desire.
Connecting your brand to your customers means connecting them to the things that they want. They want content. They want research. The big question is, are you providing it?