The holiday season is approaching, is your business ready?It’s a fact: shoppers who can’t find the information they need will leave your site and buy elsewhere.  In the past year, we’ve seen a 2.5x surge in the number of questions and answers served through Bazaarvoice Ask & Answer clients during the holiday season – and 40,000 questions were served up in December 2008 alone. What’s more, from December 2008 to December 2009, we will double the number of retailers and manufacturers that let consumers ask and answer questions on their sites.

Is your website “stocked” with plenty of information for the holidays?

Sure, you can plan now to buy massive quantities of merchandise for the holiday shopping season, but have you thought about how to beef up your site with the right answers for holiday shoppers? You can add in-store sales associates as the holidays get closer, but they can’t have all the answers, at any time, for every customer.

And while you may have a stellar customer support line, you want those folks helping customers place orders – not answering product questions. With Ask & Answer, customers ask their question once, then you and/or the community answers it. The answers remain directly in the purchase path, where others can use this information to make purchasing decisions quickly. Customer service actually improves while the overall cost dramatically decreases. Retailer Canadian Tire decreased its support costs by up to 81% with Ask & Answer.

Manufacturers should get involved, too

According to research from Channel Intelligence and Forrester, 58% of online researchers start at the manufacturer’s site – more than any other source. And research across our client base has shown that questions about products answered by manufacturers are more helpful than any other type of answers, so it’s important for manufacturers to be proactive in answering customers’ questions. Bazaarvoice enables manufacturers to answer questions both on their own sites and on top retailer sites.

Add more answers in time for the holidays

We can help you get Ask & Answer up and running on your site quickly, and your Community Manager can help you maximize consumer, manufacturer, and your own staff’s involvement to increase sales (up to 22% for one retailer), reduce returns (a 23% decrease for JCWhitney), and give your customers a great shopping experience this holiday season.

The holiday shopping season could be make-or-break this year, and it’s coming up fast. User-generated content like customer reviews and community Q&A can help make your brand the preferred source for holiday research and shopping. Stay tuned to this blog for ideas about how to get customers engaged, and read our other holiday-ready blog: “It’s 100 degrees. Are you ready for Christmas?

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