With the internet penetrating all levels of a consumer’s life, many businesses are asking the same question – how does it affect their consumer’s decision making? The internet is a narrow way to describe the vastness it encompasses. The internet includes an enormous number of social media sites, search engines, blogs, websites and more. Each of these mediums plays a role in influencing a consumer’s decision to make a purchase.

Blogs and website constantly provide reviews which furnish opinions and information on various products and services. Social media sites present plenty of discussions when a new product is launched.

Here are a few things you should be aware of.

Word of Mouth

Social media is not devoid of word of mouth. Through Facebook posts and Twitter tweets, consumers constantly come across information which makes them aware of the product and its good and bad points. The product’s social status is carried along with that word of mouth.

Often, through social media, a person’s online activities are tracked and shared with their friends. All those in his social media circle will become aware of his purchase if it is online. Even if it is not online, consumers usual announce their purchase through a video, picture or posts.

Studies have shown that 81% of consumer’s buying decisions are influenced by the posts of their friends.

Information to the Consumer

The internet has assured that billions of gigabyte of information is at the tips of your consumer. He not only can explore the products you offer, but those which your competitors offer too.  The consumer will not be restricted to your brand. He can set a budget on his own and make the decision for himself on which product is best for his budget.

54% of shoppers who visit retail stores have smart phones and 50% of those shoppers make use of their smart phone to find out prices, promotions, product review and information on the product.

Online Reviews

The online community does not want reviews that just give plain information, they want one’s that make a judgement call on the product. When a product comes out, there are video and written reviews. Some of them are quick reads and some are extensive reviews. These reviews break down every aspect of a product, not only giving the consumer information, but telling them the importance of that information. Almost 70% of consumers are known to watch online reviews.

This co-relation between information coupled with opinions also gives the consumer a chance to decide for himself.

Online Purchase

The web has removed the need for a consumer to step out of his house and make a purchase. Instead, at the click of a few buttons he can make the purchase and the product can be delivered to his house. The age of smart phones also changes how a consumer makes a purchase. With a smart phone a consumer is able to make a purchase anywhere and anytime.

It is a matter of convenience. However, online purchases have not really taken the world by storm. In the US itself, only 8% of retail purchases come from the internet. Yet, that is a big number. 2012 saw $ 25 billion being made through phones and tablets.

In Store Decision

Though the consumer has so much of information and review available to them through the net, most still don’t make pre-store decisions. In fact, 76% of decision are in-store ones.