Online shoppers are being more cautious about their purchases and spending more time researching products and finding the best deal before buying, according to a new survey.

Channel Advisor’s white paper (pdf) looks at the shopping habits of US consumers, finding that while they are online as much as before, but spending less.

Some highlights from the survey:

Free shipping works

We’ve talked about free delivery as a sales driver before on this blog, and the survey results show the effect it can have on consumer’s purchase decisions. It had the biggest influence on web shoppers when deciding to buy, followed by product reviews and free returns policies:

Search is crucial in product research

81% of product searches start with Google, with Yahoo dropping slightly to 11% compared to the last survey in Q1 2009. Bing already has a 2% share, and can also claim the highest click-through rates according to the survey:

Amazon and eBay dominate consumers’ minds

Amazon is the first online retailer that 30% of shoppers think of when shopping online, followed by eBay on 14%. Both sites were also regular shopping destinations for 70% of consumers.