Recommendations from friends are the most influential driver for UK shopping habits followed closely by consumer reviews, according to a new survey by Reevoo.

More than half of respondents (52%) said friends’ recommendations were influential, followed by consumer reviews (48%), advertising (24%) and advice from sales assistants (22%).

The survey also found that a massive 88% of consumers ‘sometimes or always’ consult a review when making a purchase, and 60% were more likely to purchase from a site that has customer reviews on.

Reevoo’s report is supported by a study from iPerceptions which found that 63% of customers are more likely to make a purchase from a site that has user reviews.

In fact the value of consumer reviews on e-commerce sites cannot be understated – a previous study by Reevoo showed that 50 or more reviews per product can mean a 4.6% increase in conversion rates.

Similarly, site visitors who interact with reviews and customer Q&As are 105% more likely to make a purchase. However, the use of consumer reviews isn’t the same across the board. 

Reevoo’s survey found that travel and automotive sectors rely on user reviews most heavily, with almost a third of respondents always reading reviews when booking travel and nearly 30% always reading reviews when choosing a car.

Can reviews be trusted?

Two-thirds of respondents (67%) said they had concerns about the trustworthiness of consumer reviews. In fact, “more people than ever suspect positive reviews might be paid for and bad reviews hidden”.

This fear appears to be well founded, as Qype recently announced that it cut 2,000 fake reviews in January in an effort to clean up its listings.

The move came after TripAdvisor was banned from claiming all its hotel and restaurant reviews could be trusted, following complaints that hoteliers were posting fake comments to promote their own business and undermine the competition.

The findings in Reevoo’s report came from a nationally representative survey of 1,000 UK consumers.