Nailed It: DMNews talks to Mike Tran, Sierra Trading Post

Mike Tran, web technology specialist for Sierra Trading Post, discusses how the retailer worked with PowerReviews to answer questions, while increasing sales conversions and clickthroughs.

Q What prompted Sierra Trading Post to adopt PowerReviews’ AnswerBox technology platform?

A We’ve been using PowerReviews’ products for about three years. When they came out with the new solutions for customer Q&As, which is the AnswerBox, we quickly adopted it. We wanted to give the customers a way to interact with our customer service and give them a way to ask questions that they might have about a certain product before making a purchase decision. It launched at the end of November 2009.

Q Who answers customer questions?

A Mostly, they’re answered by the staff. Sarah Glatfelder, our AnswerBox specialist, manages this. She’ll go through all the questions and answer them. If she can’t answer a question, she’ll forward it to one of the product experts, who’ll research it and come up with the best answer.

Q How does AnswerBox fit with Sierra Trading Post’s overall marketing strategy?

A It helps improve conversion on an item that has a Q&A about it. When a customer asks a question, they enter an e-mail address. Then when we answer that question, an e-mail gets sent out to the person who sent the original e-mail. When the customer clicks to purchase that item, that item gets converted. In these e-mails, Sierra Trading Post has had a 300% higher click-through rate and a 50% increase in conversion over traditional e-mails.

Q What were some of the initiative’s challenges, and how did you solve them?

A We were worried that the amount of volume would be too much for us to handle. We hired Sarah to be our full-time person to answer all the questions. There wasn’t much of an integration challenge because we did not need to do any internal programming code to get the AnswerBox going.

Q What are some of the results you saw after implementing AnswerBox?

A It has also allowed us to [flesh out] the type of information missing from our product descriptions. From these questions, [we see that our] product descriptions were not thorough in terms of sizing or whatever else the customer is asking. We can see a common thread related to the product. We then add the additional information to the production descriptions based on the questions people are asking. l

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