Top line findings from a social commerce survey of 1,000 frequent US online shoppers in August 2009 by the e-tailing group and Ripple6, a provider of social media services to online retailers.

Key Findings – Social Commerce: Conversations Among Consumers Survey

1. Shoppers are Social

– 67% spend at least 1 hour per week on social networking sites
– 41% are inclined to join and be active participants in online communities that share information about favorite products and brands
– 83% of online shoppers expressed interest in sharing information about their purchases with people they know

2. Sharing Influences Purchasing

– 43% make purchases as a result of time spent on social networking sites
– 73% agree that “people like me” are the most trusted sources when making a shopping purchase
– Pre-purchase opinions from others influence buying decisions for 74% of these online shoppers
– Product recommendations from friends (46%) are almost twice as valuable as those from merchants (24%)

3. Shoppers Want to Connect

– 65% see value in connecting directly with other shoppers who bought similar products –2 out of 3 would be likely to join a community of likeminded shoppers if invited via email
– The #1 reason for joining would be to share information that will help make smarter buying decisions
– 67% are likely to purchase more based on recommendations from people in a community in which they are a participant
– 62% would be inclined to frequent a retailer they have shopped before if they could be part of a community

Commentary: It’s always nice to have survey results such as this to complement hard social commerce data on conversion rates, repurchase-rates, and AOV (average order value).  Not convinced though that the results necessarily point to a need for shopping “communities” (community n. social group organized around common values, norms and interests) or even cloud-communities of shoppers (distributed communities with fingers in various different social network pies) – the speciality of Ripple6.  Personally, as a believer in the “you-can’t-create-communities-only-help-them” school of thought, I think the future of social commerce lies in creating social shopping tools not communities – information and communication tools that help people choose and get great deals.

For more information on Ripple6, check out this Scoble interview with Sang Kim, Ripple6 CEO.