June 30, 2011, 10:18 AM

Backcountry.com adds customer-generated content to product pages

Consumers who click on user-posted photos are three times more likely to convert.

Lead Photo

Outdoor apparel retailer Backcountry.com Inc. was looking for a unique way to connect to customers—something that went beyond the product reviews that are common among its high-end competitors. So it implemented a very visual and community-based strategy, which got shoppers interacting more with the retailer, boosting its conversion rates and building customer loyalty, according to new case study by Forrester Research Inc.

Backcountry.com built a platform in-house that allowed customers to add their own photos and videos to product pages. The Black Diamond AvaLung II, for example, is a skiing device designed to separate oxygen from carbon dioxide, allowing a skier trapped in an avalanche to survive long enough to be found. And the AvaLung page on Backcountry.com shows the product in action—a first-person helmet cam video posted by a customer, trapped and then rescued. 

These efforts paid off, says Clint Gordon-Carroll, Backcountry.com’s community product manager. “Those who click on user-generated photos are three times more likely to convert,” he says. “Those who watch videos posted by users on product pages are twice as likely to convert.”

Additionally, the retailer added a question-and-answer format to its product reviews to drive interaction. In the review section of each product page, staff experts and brand representatives from The North Face, Marmot and other brands that Backcountry sells online can respond to shoppers’ questions, comment on shoppers’ opinions, and suggest particular products. This also has been a boon to the site as the average order value of shoppers who pose a question is $43, which is $25 more than those who don’t. Backcountry’s active user community exceeds 100,000 members, the retailer says.

Backcountry.com’s success is easy to replicate if retailers focus on creating community and interacting openly with customers, according to the Forrester report.

Along with QVC and ProFlowers.com, Backcountry.com is a unit of Liberty Media Corp., No. 8 in Internet Retailer’s Top 500 Guide.

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