Petco and QVC find online video and user-generated reviews engage customers

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WASHINGTON - As Web 2.0 has been the hot topic for over a year now, this year's eTail has given more voice to the tech side of things, since good site design is all about the technology.

In a panel called, "Examining e-commerce Tools that Set You Apart from the Competition," QVC and Petco executives discussed the technology on their sites that have led to higher sales. Mike Madaio, chief Internet architect at QVC sees a lot of power in the growth of online video.

"We are a broadcaster, so it is only natural to get into video," he said. "But we believe that people that do not watch our channel on TV are more likely to start watching our videos online if they are fun and entertaining. We have also found that if someone is in the market for a particular product, then they are more likely to watch a video about it."

QVC is featuring video clips on its site including product demos and information-based content. The retailer has also partnered with AOL to feature videos within its site. But this is only the beginning; it plans to grow the potential business in coming years.

Not only does QVC offer video, it is one of many companies to host Bazaarvoice-powered user-generated product reviews. According to Madaio, it has a simple approach to user-generated content by offering it on its site and seeing if customers will respond. So far, QVC is seeing good results.

Petco, another Bazaarvoice client, found that user-generated reviews really increased ROI, because it has found that pet owners really listen to other pet owners.

"When we launched user reviews, we wanted to enhance customer trust and the Web site experience; ROI was not the main objective," said John Lazarchic, vice president of e-commerce of Petco. "But it has proved tremendously profitable."

While online video and user-generated reviews have increased customer engagement, both retailers still hope to better their recommendation software. People who buy dog food don't necessarily want to buy fish food; nor do people who buy cheesecakes necessarily need big shirts, despite what the program says.

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