Sometime back Forrester concluded that Social networks will have very little influence on ecommerce.
Here is one more recent survey from Cone Trend Tracker, which tends to confirm this hypothesis. Before deciding whether to purchase, consumers go online but only 12% solicit opinions from their social network(s).
What impacts a purchase decision?
Here are some interesting tidbits from the survey:
89% – will check online for medium to high value purchase
87% – gets reinforced by positive information
85% – additional recommendation online helps decision making
81% – ubiquity of internet as a reason for doing online research before purchase
80% – may change their mind based on negative feedback
69% – will give more weightage if the reviewer has actually used the product
68% – will go online to verify a product/service recommendation when they will own it for many years
64% – will check online for new / unfamiliar product
Multi-factor knowledge acquisition
What do these stats indicate?
We have entered an era where we can take in disparate and often contradictory pieces of information and arrive at a decision. We can build our understanding or find an accurate answer to a question we are asking. The beauty of this process is that the individual pieces of information may be partial and may even me erroneous.
Our brain is able to resolve the contradiction and make sense and learn from this cacophony. This is the best way to combine what computers can do well (index and search) with what human can do well (make sense from multiple, incomplete and even contradictory set of information).
This process is like multifactor authentication where more than one piece of information about user identity is used to get more secure authentication.