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Shannon Glass, associate VP of Internet strategy and operations at Bath & Body Works
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.”