Q&A with Dave VanderKloot, Manager of Software Engineering

According to the Greater Chicago Food Depository, each day, one in six Chicago families (including one in five children) don’t know where their next meal will come from. In order to approach the issue from a different angle, the Greater Chicago Food Depository hosted its first all-day hackathon, inviting technologists and engineers from around the city to compete to develop software and technology solutions to help solve the growing problem of childhood hunger.

PowerReviews is proud to support our local community and was a sponsor of the event. In addition, seven PowerReviews team members participated in the Hackathon.

This week, we sat down with Dave VanderKloot, Manager of Software Engineering, to hear more about the hackathon and the innovative technology solutions the team developed to help solve childhood hunger in Chicago.

vanderkloot

PowerReviews: Why did you decide to participate in the Hackathon to End Hunger?

Dave: Hunger is an important issue in our city (and beyond), and technology can help make a dent in solving this issue. According to the Greater Chicago Food Depository, childhood hunger is a largely preventable problem — there are enough food and resources available. Being able to use technology to help make a difference sounded like a great opportunity.

PowerReviews: Tell us about the projects the PowerReviews team worked on to hack hunger.

Dave: Seven PowerReviews participants were part of two different teams — in conjunction with employees from Jellyvision and Sprout Social.

One of the teams (also selected the winner) proposed gamifying the experience of receiving meals with a location-based mobile app, a la Pokémon Go. The idea is to encourage participation and remove some of the stigma associated with using these meal programs. The app could also collect meal feedback from users, and provide game-based rewards. The team proposed partnering with Niantic Pokémon Go (and/or future popular location-based games).

The other team built a RESTful API that allows a user to search for locations that provide free meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks) for children during the summer. The API delivers location-based results as well as details on meal times and hours. A mobile-friendly front-end was built to showcase the API, and a clean data model was designed for storing the location/provider data, as well as a service for keeping the data updated.

Are you a talented technologist who also enjoys giving back to the community? Check out our career opportunities.

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How ratings and reviews impact ecommerce conversion for Hammacher Schlemmer

PowerReviews once again partnered with Northwestern University’s Spiegel Digital and Database Research Center to conduct the third part of our continuing research on the value of reviews. For this analysis, Northwestern focused on the data of one PowerReviews customer: Hammacher Schlemmer, America’s longest running catalog, offering the Best, the Only and the Unexpected since 1848.

Download this study to understand:

  • How reviews impact ecommerce conversion for Hammacher Schlemmer
  • How this impact fluctuates based on different factors including review volume and product price
  • Practical recommendations to drive impact by collecting, displaying and distributing ratings and reviews

User Generated Photos and Video are Increasing at a Faster Rate than Ever Before

CHICAGO – September 26, 2016 – PowerReviews, a leading provider of ratings, reviews and question-and-answer technology to more than 1,000 global brands and retailers, today released a new whitepaper titled “Snapshot for ecommerce: The role of visual content in earning consumer trust and influencing purchase behavior,” which details the rise and influence of user-generated photos and videos. Within the PowerReviews network, reviews submitted with images have increased 49% year over year, and reviews submitted with videos have increased 140% year over year.

Visual content, including photos and videos, has become an expected part of the path to purchase and plays a big role in building trust and influencing customer behavior. There is no question that visual content is changing the way consumers research, browse and make purchases,” said Matt Moog, chief executive officer, PowerReviews. “By better understanding how consumers want to interact with visual content while shopping, retailers and brands can develop strategies and tactics to better attract and convert shoppers by leveraging photos and videos.”

PowerReviews conducted a survey of more than 1,000 American consumers. Key findings include:

  • There is Growing Demand for Visual Content – Shoppers want all available information prior to making a purchase. PowerReviews found that 72 percent of consumers say they regularly or always seek out visual content prior to purchase. This trend is even more apparent with Millennials, with more than 81 percent of consumers age 18-29 seeking out visual content.
  • The Influence of User-Generated Visual ContentConsumers are seeking visual content submitted by other consumers. Sixty-five percent of shoppers are more likely to trust products that have user-generated photos or videos in their reviews.  Nearly three quarters (72 percent) of shoppers say they are more likely to buy a product that has reviews that feature photos and video in addition to text. This trend is more prominent in millennials, with 84 percent of consumers age 18-29 reporting that they’re more likely to buy a product that has reviews that feature photos and videos.
  • Searching for Visual ContentMost consumers start looking for visual content on Google (50 percent) followed by Amazon (26 percent), and finally a brand or retailer’s website (13 percent). However, 40 percent of consumers prefer to see visual content on the retailer or brand site, compared with 29 percent on Amazon and 26 percent on a third-party review site. So while it is clear that consumers are starting their search on Google or Amazon, they prefer to find photos and video directly on a brand or retailer’s site.

 

As consumers share more photos and videos than ever before, visual content is becoming an expected part of the path to purchase. Retailers and brands must seek innovative ways to collect and display more user-generated images and videos in order to capture shopper interest and increase purchase likelihood.

Click here to read the entire whitepaper on leveraging visual content!

About PowerReviews
PowerReviews works with more than 1,000 global brands and retailers to increase conversion and improve products and the customer experience with ratings and reviews and Q&A software. PowerReviews unifies and amplifies the voice of the consumer throughout their journey, across all channels to help consumers make better purchase decisions and to help businesses drive conversion and improve products and services. Ratings and reviews solutions from PowerReviews are essential for consumers as they search and shop online and in-store, driving traffic on more than 5,000 websites, creating actionable insights to improve products and services, increasing conversion, and growing online site-wide sales up to 17 percent. The PowerReviews Syndication Network reaches 1,200 retailers and more than 700 million in-market shoppers every month, giving retailers and brands the power to reach shoppers wherever they are. For more information, visit www.powerreviews.com.

Contact:
Jenna Nichols
312-763-6404
jenna.nichols@powerreviews.com

The Role of Visual Content in Earning Consumer Trust & Influencing Purchase Behavior

Visual content, such as photos and videos, changed the way consumers shop. PowerReviews conducted a survey of more than 1,000 U.S. consumers to better understand the role visual content plays in the path to purchase.

Download this study to understand:

  • What kind of visual content consumers want
  • How the preferences of shoppers vary by age
  • The ways visual content builds trust and influences purchase behavior
  • Where shoppers want to consume visual content

When customers come to your site, you want them to have all the information available about a product and remove any roadblocks to purchase. We know that both reviews and Q&A give customers valuable content, and allow them to get answers to their questions. PowerReviews builds on your customers’ need for easy access to answers — and minimizes the number of customers who might ask duplicate questions — by adding search functionality to our Q&A solution.

Search Makes it Easy to Find Answers
Now when customers land on your product pages, they can consume your Q&A content, and quickly find the information they’re looking for. Customers can search to see if anyone else had the same question before asking a new one, which amplifies the positive impact of having the living and breathing FAQ section on your site.

Over time popular products may have dozens of questions displayed, which can get a bit unwieldy for customers to read through. When a customer types into the search box, their search words will be highlighted in both the question content and the answer content, putting the information front and center. If a customer is getting close to being ready to buy and comes to your site to ask a question but instead finds the answer they’re looking for, this can help close the gap to conversion.

Q&A search helps convert customers

Take the Legwork Off Your Teams
PowerReviews wants to help you win internally, and we know how valuable your time is. Adding search capability to our Q&A solution reduces the number of duplicate questions your Subject Matter Experts — your team members who are answering questions for customers — might need to answer. If customers are able to find what they’re looking for with a quick search, they won’t need to ask for additional information, meaning your internal teams can focus on other things.

Improving on an Already Valuable Solution
Search is a new feature added to an already robust product that significantly improves conversion rate. In fact, for Room & Board, the conversion rate from consumers who either read reviews or Q&A was 95% higher than the site average in 2015.

Remember, it’s always an option to leverage customers who have previously purchased the product to answer questions for potential buyers with our ‘Ask a Product Owner’ feature. And it works: nearly 20% of customers who receive an email asking them to help another shopper respond with an answer, and our customers have seen up to a 50% conversion rate when a consumer receives an email answering their question.

With the Q&A update, we’ve also given badges a facelift and rearranged the way the questions and answers display, making the customer experience more engaging. Plus, the new display is ADA/WCAG compliant.

More Information
Search functionality for Q&A is available now. If you’re a brand or retailer that’s interested in increasing conversion rates, boosting sales, and making it easy for your customers to find answers to purchase blocking questions, contact us so that we can help you reach your goals.

 

Arit Nsemo

Arit Nsemo

Arit has a background in client success in the online space. Currently, Arit is based in London, England where she is responsible for the success of PowerReviews clients in EMEA, taking a consultative approach to relationship management.

It’s been a big year for the PowerReviews moderation team, and we’re excited to officially announce the newest level of support we’ve added to the team! While our best practice moderation processes support more traditional eCommerce brands and retailers, PowerReviews has quickly learned to adapt to a distinctive segment in the ratings and reviews world – highly regulated pharmaceuticals. These brands are governed not only by standard commerce practices, but have an added layer of policies to abide by in the hands of the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

With the complex nature of handling UGC from a highly regulated perspective, PowerReviews is proud to be the first ratings and reviews provider to employ a Pharmacist Consultant, who leads efforts to properly manage reviews generated for pharmaceutical grade products. Savannah, our Pharmacist Consultant, joined our team in early 2016. She holds a Doctorate of Pharmacy, works on staff at a hospital, and serves on the PowerReviews team as the lead for pharmaceutical UGC. With her extensive knowledge and background with pharmaceutical products, she expertly moderates content to ensure that our clients are quickly notified of any and all adverse events, and she also serves as the product expert for all the pharmaceutical brands that are live on the PowerReviews platform.

For each pharmaceutical brand that launches with PowerReviews, Savannah and team take a deep dive to learn all the regulations for the proper use of the product. From off-label use, to mis-dosage, Savannah leads the team in becoming experts on the products themselves, to ensure we are able to maintain the content just as the pharmaceutical brands would do internally. Not only do our team members become experts, but we also maintain a 0-24 hr service level agreement (SLA) for these brands, to ensure we are compliant in reporting adverse events to the FDA per their requirements.

More Information
Looking for a vendor to support user generated content in a highly regulated industry? PowerReviews is the most trusted team in the industry to properly care for your company, as well as your customers. Contact us to learn more.

It’s no secret that the holiday season is a busy time for retailers. This year will be no exception, as brands and retailers are again tasked with standing out among the nearly endless shopping options today’s consumers have.

Gift givers are increasingly turning to user-generated content such as ratings and reviews to inform their holiday purchases. That’s why it’s key to generate fast feedback on purchases to drive sales online and in-store during the busiest time of the year — and set yourself up for success in the new year, too.

Join Erik Skurka, VP of Product at PowerReviews, for a 30-minute webinar that will explore best practices to help brands and retailers generate more user-generated content to drive traffic and sales during the holiday season and beyond. Erik will discuss how to:

    • Quickly provide UGC on products that have a short shelf life
    • Increase content collection rates up to 400% by streamlining the review collection process for multi-item transactions 
    • Collect more content on purchases immediately after checkout 
    • Generate authentic consumer feedback on new products or specific products that need more reviews 
    • Amplify your review coverage through content syndication 
    • Create memorable experiences across all channels, especially mobile 

<strong>Two Takeaways from our Apparel Webinar</strong>

<span style=”font-weight: 400;”>Today, according to </span><a href=”http://www.wsj.com/articles/amazon-struts-its-fashion-sense-challenging-traditional-stores-1459965440″><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>Forrester Research</span></a><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>, only 15% of apparel is purchased online. But as more and more consumers crave the convenience of browsing and shopping for just about everything online, the number of people shopping for apparel online is expected to grow. Amazon’s expansion into the online retail space will likely accelerate this growth. According to a Morgan Stanley report, Amazon currently has a 7% market share of the apparel industry, but by 2020 that number is predicted to climb to 19%. </span>

<span style=”font-weight: 400;”>During our recent monthly webinar, I shared five recommendations for apparel brands and retailers looking to leverage reviews in order to provide a differentiated experience to today’s information-hungry shoppers and avoid losing market share to Amazon. Read on for two of those recommendations. </span>

<b>Allow Consumers to Submit Photos and Video
</b><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>According to a survey from </span><a href=”https://www.bodylabs.com/resources/white-papers/2016-apparel-footwear-retail-survey-report/”><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>Body Labs</span></a><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>, 23% of all clothing gets returned, and 64% of consumers say “incorrect fit” is the major reason for the return. In addition to collecting text reviews, encourage your shoppers to submit photos and videos of the products they’ve recently purchased. Seeing images and videos of a product on a real person will allow future shoppers to understand how an apparel item fits on different body types, so they know what to expect when the item arrives. In addition, user-submitted photos and videos can also spark ideas for different ways to accessorize a piece of clothing, leading to more multi-item transactions. </span>

<img class=”alignnone size-full wp-image-7620″ src=”https://www.powerreviews.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/VisualContentDisplay.png” alt=”visualcontentdisplay” width=”809″ height=”494″ />

<span style=”font-weight: 400;”>If you don’t provide shoppers access to user-submitted photos and videos, they’re less likely to convert. <a href=”https://www.powerreviews.com/event/centennial-shopper-study/” target=”_blank”>A recent PowerReviews study</a> found that 40% of Centennials (age 13-18) won’t purchase a product if there are no photos of people using the product. And if they do convert, there’s a good chance they’ll return the item once it arrives on their doorstep.</span>
<pre>[bctt tweet=”40% of Centennials won’t purchase a product if there are no photos of people using it.”]</pre>
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<b>Generate Content Quickly
</b><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>Apparel merchandise often moves on and off the shelves quickly, due to seasons changing or styles going in and out of fashion. For example, in most parts of the country, heavy winter jackets are only sold a few months of the year. Since reviews play a powerful role in driving traffic and conversion, it’s key for apparel brands and retailers to generate quality reviews as quickly as possible. </span>

<span style=”font-weight: 400;”>PowerReviews data has found that around 60% of reviews are written as a result of a </span><a href=”https://www.powerreviews.com/blog/post-purchase-email-content/”><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>post purchase email</span></a><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>, which asks customers to review items they’ve recently purchased. So be sure to send a mobile-friendly post purchase email to all consumers who make a purchase. </span>

<span style=”font-weight: 400;”>In addition, while longer reviews provide valuable insights for shoppers and businesses alike, there’s great value in shorter reviews too, especially for products with a short shelf live. Simply asking a shopper “</span><a href=”https://www.powerreviews.com/blog/generate-customer-feedback-faster/”><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>Why Did You Buy</span></a><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>?” immediately after purchase will provide you with additional content to drive traffic, sales, and insights. </span>

<b>Missed Our Apparel Webinar?
</b><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>Did you miss our recent webinar on the importance of reviews for apparel brands and retailers? Hear all the tips I shared by </span><a href=”https://www.powerreviews.com/event/webinar-the-guide-to-reviews-for-apparel-brands-and-retailers/”><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>watching the on-demand session</span></a><span style=”font-weight: 400;”>. </span>

Arit Nsemo

Arit Nsemo

Arit has a background in client success in the online space. Currently, Arit is based in London, England where she is responsible for the success of PowerReviews clients in EMEA, taking a consultative approach to relationship management.

Featured Presenter

Erik_Skurka_2

Erik Skurka, VP Product

As Vice President of Product Management, Erik leads the Product, Design, Analytics and Data Science teams at PowerReviews. The teams work closely with our customers and internal cross-functional teams to define, create, and build tools and experiences that are used to drive value for thousands of PowerReviews brands and retailers in over 30 languages.

Prior to PowerReviews, Erik was part of multiple product teams building, iterating, and innovating the online and mobile experiences for Cars.com, a leading automotive research website that was sold to Gannett Media in 2014 for $2.4B.

He started his career at PricewaterhouseCoopers, helping private companies navigate complicated regulatory and capital markets environments after the 2008 recession. Erik is a graduate of the University of Colorado, holding a B.S. in Business and an M.S. in Taxation.

In case you missed it, Google has changed the minimum number of Seller Ratings needed in order for a star rating to appear in your Google AdWords Campaign. Read on to learn more about the change, how it affects you, and how you can capitalize on this opportunity.

What Are Seller Ratings?
Seller Ratings are a way to collect feedback from consumers about their overall shopping experience with a brand or a retailer. Google partners, such as PowerReviews, then share these ratings to Google, allowing star ratings to appear in your Google AdWords campaigns like the example below.

Get Google Star Ratings example

Seller Ratings help consumers make smart purchasing decisions, and they also help brands and retailers increase traffic to their ecommerce websites. In fact, at PowerReviews, we’ve found that it’s possible to achieve a 100% increase in click-through rates on AdWords with Seller Ratings.

What Has Changed?
Previously, Google required that a brand or retailer have at least 30 Seller Ratings from the past 12 months and an average star rating of 3.5 or higher in order for the star rating to appear in Google AdWords campaigns. Now, businesses must have 150 Seller Ratings from the past 12 months, with an average star rating of 3.5 or higher, in order for the star rating to appear in AdWord campaigns.

What Do You Need to Do?
If you have 150 Seller Ratings from the past 12 months with an average star rating of 3.5 or higher, you won’t notice any changes. If you have fewer reviews, however, you’ll notice that the star ratings will disappear from your AdWords campaigns within the next couple weeks until you’ve collected the required 150 Seller Ratings. But don’t be discouraged! Instead, think of this change as an opportunity to engage with your customers to collect even more Seller Ratings.

At PowerReviews, we’ve found that the following best practices help brands and retailers collect the required 150 Seller Ratings needed in order for stars to appear in AdWords campaigns.

  • Ask for Feedback at the Right Time: There are three main components to a comprehensive Seller Rating — shopping experience, shipping, and service. Capture your shoppers’ attention and ask them questions when they’re in the context of each of these three components. For example, ask for feedback about the buying experience right after a purchase has been made, while the experience is still fresh in the mind of your consumer. Ask about shipping after the product has arrived, via a post purchase email. And ask for feedback about service after every experience over the phone or online.
    Example of a Google Star Rating
  • Keep the Collection Process Simple: If you make the process of leaving Seller Ratings too complicated, your shoppers will likely abandon it all together. Rather than asking for lots of data, boil down each Seller Rating component to a simple star rating and open, qualitative feedback.

More Information About Seller Ratings
Already a customer? If you’re an existing PowerReviews customer looking for ways to generate and leverage Seller Ratings, contact your Client Success Director or Community Manager.

Not yet a customer? If you’re not a current PowerReviews customer but are interested in learning more about how Seller Ratings can help you build consumer trust and increase conversion, contact us today.

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