Online car reviews on CarMax drive business offline

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Online car retailer CarMax has tapped reviews firm Bazaarvoice to add user-generated reviews to its e-commerce site.

With the Bazaarvoice technology, CarMax users will now be able to add reviews of cars that they have purchased. Shoppers in the market for a user car can also share in the reviews of fellow buyers.

"The strategy is that by having it on the site, we are more likely to convert them to come into the dealer or to call," said Sam Decker, vice president at Bazaarvoice, Austin, TX. "With user-generated reviews, shoppers can get an authentic opinion from real consumers."

CarMax, Richmond, VA, is an online network of car dealerships nationwide. Car dealers can list both new and used cars for sale and shoppers can search based on model, features and location. The site then has a call to action that directs shoppers to a local dealership that carries the desired car.

In addition to the new user-generated review functionality, customers can also use the site to read editorial reviews, check safety reports and calculate insurance costs, fuel economy and payments.

The site aims to help consumers who are purchasing cars online from non-local dealer locations. With Bazaarvoice, site users can create profiles and add comments, which can be shared across the entire network of car dealers. This lets customers connect with dealers nationwide.

Reviews are not just aimed at helping customers, but dealers as well. Dealers can learn from customer reviews which cars to carry and how to market these vehicles to consumers.

Eighty percent of the reviews are positive, and the details on these, as well as the negative feedback, can help dealers manage their business.

"Having the user reviews will also help sellers determine which cars are hot," Mr. Decker said.

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