January 5, 2007, 12:00 AM

Customer reviews spike conversion rates at Overstock, Bass Pro

Customer reviews of products have improved conversion rates and customer relationships at e-retailers Overstock.com, Bass Pro Shops and Evogear.com. In some cases, “we’re averaging conversion rates 20% higher,” says Overstock’s Jacob Hawkins.

Kurt Peters

Executive Editor

 

Offering consumer reviews of products has pushed up conversion rates and strengthened customer relationships at e-retailers Overstock.com, Bass Pro Shops and Evogear.com. “On products with a broad set of reviews, we’re averaging conversion rates that are 20% higher than products without reviews,” Jacob Hawkins, senior vice president of online marketing at Overstock.com Inc., tells Internet Retailer.

Overstock, No. 18 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide to Retail Web Sites, switched last year from a home-grown consumer-reviews system to one hosted by Bazaarvoice Inc., which has enabled the retailer to offer a more comprehensive reviews system, Hawkins says. “We sell a wide variety of products and we wanted more pertinent reviews,” he says. “We needed to ask a different question for digital cameras-Is the optical zoom as good as you thought?-than for bed sheets-Is the 1,000-count sheet as smooth as expected?”

At Bass Pro Shops, No. 107 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide to Retail Web Sites, reviews are driving up conversion rates by 20-30% says David Seifert, director of operations and direct marketing. “Customers really have an affinity with this, because they would rather believe other customers than the retailer any day of the week,” he says. “There are very few things like this that we can implement this easily and quickly, and get this kind of response from customers and make this kind of money off of it.”

Retailers are also beginning to dress up their review applications with video files uploaded by the customers who write them. “It’s a way for consumers to get more attached to our brand, when their own personality and image is on our web site,” says Bryce Phillips, founder and CEO of ski equipment and apparel retailer Evogear.com, where customer-generated product reviews are a key part of the retailer’s growth to about $6 million in sales in its current fiscal year.

Since launching its customer reviews application last fall on the PowerReviews platform, Evogear’s customers have uploaded more than 200 images along with their reviews.

Overstock’s Geoff Atkinson, director of e-mail and web site marketing, will speak at the Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition, June 4-7 in San Jose in a session entitled E-mail Marketing: Being Persuasive, Not Offensive.

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