September 1, 2009, 12:00 AM

Sprinkler Warehouse’s new customer reviews are growing more sales

Customer reviews on site and in e-mail to customers boost sales 30% year over year at Sprinklerwarehouse.com.

Since mid-July, sales at Sprinkler Warehouse have risen by 29.6% over the same period last year following its launch of online customer product reviews, president and founder Steve Okelberry tells Internet Retailer.

The retailer of lawn irrigation systems and products launched product reviews on Sprinklerwarehouse.com July 22, powered by vendor RatePoint Inc.’s hosted system. The 29.6% lift represents the increase in total sales from that date through August 19 over the same period last year, Okelberry says. This year, average daily sales for the online-only company during that time were $20,600, compared with $15,864 last year, he says. The use of reviews on the site as well as in e-mail campaigns to customers both contributed to the sales lift, according to the retailer.

Okelberry points out the sales increase occurred during what is for the lawn sprinkler industry the closing part of the season. “We are a small, family-owned business,” he adds. “It shows that you don’t have to have a million-dollar budget to be successful with your web site.”

Sprinklerwarehouse.com has about 700 reviews so far, including multiple reviews of some popular products. That covers an estimated 20% to 30% of the 1,700 products on the site. To populate the site with reviews when the feature launched, the retailer created a list of everyone who’d made a purchase within the last two years, representing about 70,000 of its total list of 130,000, and e-mailed them in advance asking them to submit a review of their earlier purchase. The e-mail offered customers a coupon for $3 off a future purchase as a thank-you for writing a review.

To encourage reviews going forward, Sprinkerwarehouse.com is creating a list segment of customers who have purchased during the previous week. That will form the basis of a weekly campaign to customers who’ve made a purchase to ask them to contribute a review.

Okelberry notes that while the site also has made other improvements, nothing has produced the immediate, measurable lift that adding customer reviews has. “For example, we’ve been adding multiple product views gradually for almost a year. But that is a long process and we have not seen anything like this until product reviews hit,” he says.

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