September 9th, 2009

Retail Shopping Communities Attract Shoppers, Influence Purchasing, and Retain Consumers

New Research: 83 percent of online shoppers express interest in sharing information about their purchases with people they know

NEW YORK – September 9, 2009 – As social networks proliferate and consumers report spending more of their time online, e-commerce is ripe to weave community into the customer experience. On average, two-thirds of consumers spend at least one hour per week social networking, with almost half spending three hours or more on the sites. In August 2009, the e-tailing group and Ripple6, a leading provider of social media services to e-tailers, brand marketers and publishers, launched the Social Commerce: Conversations Among Consumers survey to 1,000 frequent online shoppers.

For more information on this survey, visit

“The research objective was to explore consumer perceptions regarding social media relative to connecting customers to one another, to merchants, and the subsequent influence on purchasing,” explains Lauren Freedman, president of the e-tailing group. “We are pleased to report that our findings bode well for the online merchant community.”

The survey results confirm that consumers are social with 83 percent of online shoppers very or somewhat interested in sharing information about their purchases with people they know. In addition, 41 percent would be inclined to join and be active participants in online communities that share information about their favorite products.

Sharing/Community influences purchasing
This information sharing impacts commerce as pre-purchase opinions from others influence buying decisions for 74 percent of online shoppers. Additionally, 73 percent agreed that “people like me” are the most trusted sources when making a shopping purchase. In fact, product recommendations from friends are almost twice as valuable as product recommendations from merchants (46 percent versus 24 percent) for their ability to influence purchases.

“This research confirms that most of the things consumers find valuable are those delivered by community,” concludes Sang Kim        , CEO of Ripple6. “Our social platform applied to commerce fosters strong connections with consumers to deliver more robust shopping experiences that generate incremental online sales and keep valued customers returning more frequently.”

Consumers want to connect via community
The next logical step in this social commerce evolution is to create online communities that focus on connecting shoppers directly with others who have purchased similar products. Survey results indicate that two out of three consumers would be likely to join such a community if invited via email. The primary reason for wanting to be part of such a retail community is sharing information to help make smarter buying decisions. Equally as important is the participant’s desire to reach out and help others by recommending products and sharing their expertise.

Merchants benefit from social commerce
These shopping-focused communities can noticeably increase Average Order Value (AOV) and aid customer retention. Sixty seven percent of users are more likely to purchase more based on recommendations from people in a community in which they participate and 62 percent are more likely to frequent a retailer they have shopped before if they can be part of a community within that site.

About the e-tailing group

The e-tailing group, inc. serves as the multi-channel merchant’s eye, bringing a merchant’s sensibility to evolving the multi-channel shopping experience. A Chicago-based consultancy, they provide practical strategic perspectives and actionable merchandising solutions to merchants selling online as well as to enabling technology firms. For more background about this research study or additional information on the e-tailing group, inc. please contact Lauren Freedman at or visit the e-tailing group website

About Ripple6, Inc.

Ripple6™ helps marketers, publishers and e-tailers implement their business strategy through social media. The company provides an enterprise white label social media platform to create consumer engagements and relationships, enhance social marketing, generate consumer insights, and facilitate commerce and collaboration. It is easily customized to incorporate a brand’s look and feel for integration into an existing web site or to create an entirely new site. Ripple6, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Gannett Co., Inc. (NYSE: GCI), is based in New York and its list of clients and partners includes P&G, Meredith Corporation, and Unilever. For more information, go to

Media Contact:

Julie Nicholson

Weber Shandwick for Ripple6