This blog post was guest-written by Bazaarvoice Community Manager Anna Skaya and Business Development Director Adam Salamon.

By now, we all know that customers trust other consumers when making purchase decisions. In the world of apparel, this is just as critical, as the same clothes may fit one person completely different than another. To help customers take advantage of all the tools at their disposal, one of UK’s most personal brands, Boden, has combined the power of search with the power of their customer community to power what we are calling Social Navigation – the ability to discover and buy products based on what other customers have said.

A bit about Boden – Founded in 1991, Boden is a premier provider of stylish fashion in the UK, US, and Germany. Their brand features clothing for men, women, and mini, and they ship more than 3,000 orders every day from their warehouse in Leicester. The quirky and lively voice of the brand makes them a standout in the sometimes-monotone retail space.

Bazaarvoice Ratings & Reviews went live in early January 2009 on Bodenusa.com, and customers reacted positively, and fast! Within just four months, almost 650,000 reviews were being served daily, and more than 90% of their products were reviewed. Because of the success of the US implementation, Ratings & Reviews were added to Boden.co.uk in May 2008.

Boden, with the help of Bazaarvoice and their search provider, SLI, has now taken personal search to a new level – SLI has now integrated Bazaarvoice social tags into their faceted navigation. Specifically, a customer can now refine their search by specific dimensions or tags (seeing products that are for an age group or social occasion for instance). We are now soliciting this data on the submission page, thus a customer can search for a product and refine that search by saying they only want to see products that are “Top Rated by Age” or “Number of Reviews.” This essentially takes the ability of social search or social navigation to the next level by allowing visitors to refine results based upon attributes that are most relevant to their own buying profile. Try it for yourself – type in ‘shirt dress’ in the search bar and see the search results on the left-nav outlining reviews.

In addition, Boden will soon launch a new navigation attribute where users will be able to search by body type (pear-shaped, apple-shaped, etc), giving social search a whole new parameter. We will be adding these questions onto the submission page and launching the feature in the spring.
Boden is now a great example of what we can do by combining reviews and search, and one of a few UK companies that has embraced social navigation (look for another great example soon from a major UK retailer – Comet). At the end of the day, this should help customers make the right product decisions, align their expectations, and make them more confident when making purchases.

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