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Shannon Glass, associate VP of Internet strategy and operations at Bath & Body Works
Shannon Glass, associate VP of Internet strategy and operations at Bath & Body Works
Not every review will be relevant, so Bazaarvoice actively monitors and manages the reviews and rankings for clients, making sure that complaints about shipping, for instance, aren't included in the reviews and rankings — though those are often sent on to customer service for follow-up.

Customer reviews and rankings are proving to be so valuable for boosting conversion rates and customer satis­faction levels that many e-commerce sites are now looking to integrate them into their traditional marketing outreach. “We're now marketing a lot of products with the reviews, espe­cially in new categories, to help the customers grasp that it's OK to buy that product from us,” says Glass.

Some companies are also using reviews outside of their product pages. “We're seeing customers using reviews in catalogs and cir­culars,” notes Barton, citing Best Buy and Wal-Mart as major retail­ers experimenting with this kind of campaign creative.

Negative reviews not so bad

Bath & Body Works makes it a policy to post all relevant reviews, adding that even some product criticism has its place. “Negative reviews help authenticate the process,” Glass says. “A five-star product is only good if a consumer knows there are one-star products out there.”

Kim Gnatt, VP of Internet for FootSmart, a multichannel retailer that sells foot and lower-body healthcare products, says the com­pany added Bazaarvoice's reviews and ratings platforms only a few months ago, but has already seen a 2% increase in conversion rates for products with reviews as opposed to products without.

She adds that reviews are also help­ing to cut down on returns. “We do a lot of our own product development and the reviews allow us to get spe­cific feedback about the improvements consumer want to see in our shoes,” she explains. “We're able to take that information to our own manufactur­ing, as well as to some of our vendor partners, to help them make decisions on their merchandise mix.”

Though Bazaarvoice completely manages the reviews and rankings, Glass stresses that it is important for marketing, sales and customer service to regularly access as least the sum­maries of the reviews and ratings that come in. She says that she looks at Bazaarvoice's dashboard “weekly,” with a customer service team looking at the reviews every day.

The online reviews also help the bricks-and-mortar business, because many shoppers first go to Web sites to look at what other customers are saying before heading to a store.

“There are many insights you can glean from reviews and ratings,” she concludes. “Bazaarvoice does a great job in ensuring they are authentic, so it would be shameful for us not to leverage those reviews as a way to stay in contact with our customers.”

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