Cabela's user-generated content will appear offline

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Cabela's user-generated content will appear offline
Cabela's user-generated content will appear offline

Cabela's is taking its social media ini­tiatives to a new level, by bringing user-generated content, such as customer reviews and ratings, to other channels.

Working with its social media partner, Bazaarvoice, the outdoors products mer­chant has begun testing signs that feature quotes from customer reviews in some stores, building on its earlier success apply­ing user-generated content to its catalogs, e-mails and in-store kiosks.

“Customers are all about information,” said Mark Thompson, director of e-com­merce at Cabela's Inc. By taking customer reviews and ratings that have been gener­ated online and leveraging them offline, it gives Cabela's “more of a systematic way to share this information,” he continued.

The strategy also enables Cabela's to have a more consistent look across all of its sales channels, an important goal for the multichannel merchant. Its success so far guarantees that Cabela's “will continue to use ratings and reviews through all three of our channels,” Thompson said.

Inside some catalogs, Cabela's is calling out actual reviews and ratings on specific products. There's also a section in the front of the books explaining what the ratings and reviews are, how they're used and how customers can go online to read more reviews or write their own.

Late last summer, Cabela's extended the effort to e-mail and now e-mail subscrib­ers periodically receive communications listing the top ranked gift ideas around certain holidays or the top rated items around a specific seasonal sport. Custom­ers can also find and submit reviews and ratings at Cabela's in-store kiosks.

E-mails featuring product rankings tend to have a higher click-through rate and lower return rate, according to Thomp­son. “The more information customers have, the more apt they are not to return a product,” he said.

Cabela's isn't alone in looking for new ways to apply customer-generated content. “Retailers have lacked this type of content before,” said Sam Decker, chief marketing officer at Bazaarvoice Inc. Now that they have it and they're seeing the impact that it has, they're starting to experiment with it, he continued.

Canadian grocery store Loblaw, for example, used customer reviews in its weekly circulars to promote its private label products, and Petco is testing the content in its online advertising.

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