Bazaarvoice not only has the best solutions in the social commerce industry – it presents them in style.

A couple of weeks ago, Bazaarvoice hosted a business luncheon for 40 attendees from companies such as M and M DirectHamleys, and Lands’ End at the Century Club, an exclusive central London media club in the Soho district. Opening speaker Justin Crandall, Managing Director of Bazaarvoice, emphasized the importance of optimizing user-generated content through four phases of maturity:

  • Content Generation
  • Online Amplification
  • Multi-Channel Diversification
  • Business Transformation

Ashley Friedlein, CEO and co-founder of Econsultancy, elaborated further on multi-channel marketing and business structure transformation in his keynote presentation. 

“The battle [for credibility] has already been won,” Friedlein said. Consumer feedback has become the norm, not a novelty. Seventy-eight percent of consumers believe that customer recommendations – whether in review, Q&A, or story form – are the most credible form of advertising, according to a 2007 study conducted by Nielsen Media Research. Products with 20+ reviews lead to nearly 84 percent higher conversion rates, on average. Bazaarvoice Ask & Answer clients saw a 22 percent increase in conversion for products with more than two answered questions, as well as a 28-81 percent decrease in call center volume. 

Yet with 92 percent of the UK’s Top 25 online retailers implementing ratings and reviews for their products, forward-thinking companies must set their content apart by innovative means. 

“Most interactions with your brand online aren’t on your main site,” Friedlein said. “Can you take your shop to them?” After retailers have maximized their online usage of their consumers’ feedback, the next step is to take that content offline and into stores to deliver further value. The implications for marketing, positioning, and packaging are endless. Friedlein cited Sephora’s sales spikes in its most reviewed beauty products as an example; other companies are using reviews in direct advertising, call centers, public relations, catalogues, in-store displays and mobile media. 

Some brands have gone one step further to collaborate with other companies for user-generated designs. H&M allowed Sims 2 players to design their own H&M-inspired outfits; the winner’s creation was made available for purchase in nearly 1,000 H&M retail locations for $14.90. Other retail sites have implemented federated commerce, linking up products to social networks, allowing customers access to their products from anywhere – Facebook to Paypal, eBay to widgets customizable for different Web sites, Dell to Twitter. 

The key to the final phase of social commerce lies in brands utilizing their content for business insight —what’s known as “operationalizing user-generated content.” Smart companies use their product feedback not only to drive sales, but also to make merchandising decisions, improve product functionality, and drive business intelligence. 

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