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Two thirds of online shoppers judge online reputation of retailers before making a purchase

December 18
17:00 2008

Web Hosting NewsLondon – Online reputation matters for the majority of British consumers, according to research released today by 1&1 Internet Ltd., the world’s largest web host by known servers. A survey of 1600 UK consumers(1) found that almost two thirds (65 per cent) of Britons regularly check the Internet for material about an online retailer before committing to a purchase. It appears that consumer-created content, such as online reviews or blog posts, has never been so highly valued, with 46 per cent of Britons wishing to read online reviews or recommendations on a specific product before buying it. The research also found that today British consumers are likely to share their online shopping experiences on the Internet, with 1 in 3 (32 per cent) of us willing and able to publish a review online.

In today’s economic climate, it is perhaps unsurprising that shoppers are seeking more reliable and value-conscious experiences from online retailers.

However, it appears that the average UK consumer has now become acutely sensitive to the online image of the online retailers available to them. The survey shows that 65 per cent of online shoppers admit to searching the Internet for material relating to an online retailer in order to judge their ‘online reputation’ or reputability before they click ‘Order’. Significantly, the issue increases in importance with age, with 70 per cent of over 55 year olds regularly researching in this way, as compared to only 53 per cent of 16-24 year olds.

Customer review material is seen as the most important component of online credibility for consumers. Some 44 per cent of men and 34 per cent of women routinely rely upon independent star ratings and rankings, and 1 in 4 (27 per cent) actively seek customer service commitments on retailers’ websites. The study suggests that UK consumers source and critique a range of online material before making many of their online purchases.

Oliver Mauss, CEO 1&1 Internet Ltd, said “Britons have clearly learned to do their homework before they buy online. It is significant that the average online shopper will now invest time in appraising a retailer’s online reputation as an integral part of their buying decision”.

Interestingly, British shoppers appear to be just as keen to collaborate and share their shopping experiences as they are to leverage those of others’. The proliferation of social networking and growth of consumer review and advice websites, has perhaps given consumers greater confidence to share their knowledge. For example, the survey found that 1 in 3 British consumers (32 per cent) are willing to publish an online review or opinion of an online retailer, whilst only 19 per cent would consider writing a letter to the retailer in question. In 2008, the most popular method of sharing online shopping experiences remains word-of-mouth with over half of consumers (52 per cent) regularly sharing experiences with friends and family.

1&1’s survey also reveals that Britons are confident in opting for the web for their Christmas shopping. Some two thirds (68 per cent) are confident that they receive the same standard of service online as they do ‘over the counter’. This trust in online shopping does vary across geographical region, with 80 per cent of respondents from Belfast as confident, compared to only 59 per cent in Sheffield. Interestingly, Londoners expressed the second least level of confidence in online shopping (60 per cent) as compared with regular offline shops.

Consumers are also surprisingly open-minded these days about traditional retail aspects such as the size of the retailer, with only 13 per cent influenced by this, or its location, with 21 per cent giving this consideration. It may be that tougher economic conditions are leading Britons to become increasingly receptive to offerings from lesser-known, smaller online retailers.

Mauss added, “At a time of advertising-overload, consumers clearly see great value in sharing their knowledge. This is perhaps contributing to their growing confidence to experiment with smaller online retailers. It is impressive that Britons are as keen to contribute as they are to consume market intelligence”.

1&1 Internet, the world’s largest web host by known servers, is well placed to provide a high quality web hosting service to online businesses. 1&1 currently holds over 7.7 million customer contracts worldwide and manages over 10 million domain names. For more information on 1&1 Internet Ltd visit the website at www.1and1.co.uk

(1) 1,636 UK adults interviewed by Tickbox.Net in November 2008 via electronic feedback form

About 1&1 Internet Ltd:
1&1 Internet Ltd based in Slough, west of London, is Europe’s No.1 web hosting and domain name registration company. 1&1 Internet Ltd is the UK arm of 1&1 Internet AG based in Germany (a subsidiary of United Internet Group, a public company with a market cap of more than 2 Billion GBP). 1&1 was established in 1988 and holds some 7.7 million British, German, French, Spanish, Romanian, Austrian and US customer contracts and serves some 10 million domain names at its 55,000 server strong Data Centres. 1&1 prides itself on being the one-stop-shop for web solutions.

1&1 Internet Ltd entered the UK domain registration and web hosting market in June 2000. As a well funded profitable company, it is in a strong position to deliver a high quality service at low cost. 1&1 is an accredited Registrar with ICANN (.com), Nominet (.co.uk), Afilias (.info) and NeuLevel (.biz).

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