Meet the Team is a recurring series on the PowerReviews blog, allowing you to get to know the people behind our success.

We recently sat down with Francis Okonkwo, Sr. Front-End Engineer, to chat about what it’s like to be on the PowerReviews engineering team and why he doesn’t eat food that requires the use of more than one hand.

Francis Okonkwo, Sr. Front-End Engineer at PowerReviews

What did you do before working with PowerReviews?
I worked for a small trading firm for about five years, on a really small team of about three developers. After that, I worked for Bank of America doing front-end work.

What does a day in the life of a Sr. Front End Engineer at PowerReviews look like?
No two days are exactly the same, since our days vary based on how close we are to our sprints or if we’re we’re releasing a new product. If it’s at the start of a sprint, there’s a lot of heads-down work, focusing on getting features completed. On those days, I’ll get to the office, go to my desk, get my headphones on and try to do as much work as possible. When I want to take a break, I’ll go talk with the Client Success Directors to get their feedback on the new features we roll out.

When did you first know you wanted to be a software engineer?
There really wasn’t one moment, but I’m creative and have always been comfortable with computers. I used to draw a lot of comics, and front-end engineering does bring some of those designing skills — working with colors and shadows and things like that.

I grew up in Nigeria so I was done with high school at 16. And in between finishing high school and moving to the U.S., my mom made me take this course on how to make websites, and I really liked it. Then while studying electrical engineering in college, I took a computer science class that I ended up really enjoying. So I changed my major to computer science and ended up getting my Master’s Degree in that.

What’s your favorite part about working on the technology team?
First of all, the people are great. I did interview quite a lot before taking this position, because I wanted to get my next role right. And I like the energy here, and I really like my team and my manager.

But also, the impact you can make as an individual engineer here is really impressive. You have engineers taking ownership of really core functionalities or offerings. The work I’ve done at PowerReviews in the year that I’ve been here has easily been the most challenging work, as well as the most rewarding.

Do you have any quirks?
I don’t like eating foods that require more than one hand because I like to keep one hand clean when I eat. I just feel vulnerable when both of my hands are dirty — I can’t answer the phone, I can’t stop my kids from doing something they’re not supposed to. So I do my best to keep one hand clean, no matter what I eat.

What’s one thing that people in the office might not know about you?
My brother was born on my third birthday, so we have the same birthday even though we’re three years apart.

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How consumers navigate the grocery shopping experience online and in-store

Today, consumers have a growing number of online grocery shopping options, including meal boxes, online services, and “click and collect” options — just to name a few. With the news of Amazon acquiring Whole Foods for $13.7 billion, the trend of shopping online for groceries will only accelerate. But at the same time, a majority of consumers continue to do at least a portion of their grocery shopping within the four ways of a brick and mortar store.

In the midst of the growing number of shopping options, how are today’s consumers navigating the grocery shopping experience both online and in-store? And what information are they seeking out to help them make better purchase decisions?

To help answer these questions, PowerReviews surveyed more than 1,000 American consumers to better understand their grocery shopping habits. During this webinar, Theresa O’Neil, SVP of Marketing, will explore key findings from this research and share tips for better serving the needs of today’s grocery shoppers. She’ll cover:

  • Where consumers are shopping for groceries today
  • What types of information they’re using to make purchase decisions
  • Where they want to find key product information
  • How retailers can better attract, convert and retain grocery shoppers across channels

9 ways to get your user-generated content in front of more shoppers in more places

By now you’ve probably heard the stats about how collecting and displaying user-generated content — such as ratings and reviews, photos, and videos — can improve your business’ bottom line. But it’s worth repeating. On average, when a product adds one or more reviews, that product experiences a 108% lift in traffic, a 65% lift in conversion and a 92% lift in sales.

How can you amplify the voice of the consumer and the reach of your user-generated content? Download this guide to learn nine things you can do, to break through the noise and reach more shoppers in more places.

Brick and Mortar Still Rules

It’s no secret that ecommerce continues to grow at a rapid pace. According to data from the U.S. Department of Commerce, ecommerce accounted for nearly 12% of total retail sales in 2016. But while a growing number of transactions happen online, grocery is an area that has traditionally lagged behind — especially in the U.S.

Today, the majority of consumers are still visiting a brick and mortar store to purchase groceries — at least part of the time. PowerReviews recently surveyed more than 1,000 U.S. consumers to learn more about their grocery habits and found that 90% have made an in-store grocery purchase within the last three months. And even shoppers who opt to purchase groceries online are still visiting physical store locations — 92% of online grocery shoppers have also made an in-store grocery purchase within the last three months.

[bctt tweet=”90% of consumers have made an in-store grocery purchase within the last three months.” username=”powerofreviews”]

But online grocery will continue to grow, driven by the growing number of shopping options available to consumers. And consumers’ desire for information is resulting in a change to their in-store shopping habits, too. Read on to find out what we learned about how today’s consumers are using technology and information to navigate the grocery store aisles.

Consumers Use Their Phones as a Grocery Shopping Tool

A majority of consumers continue to purchase their groceries in a brick-and-mortar store. However, these in-store shoppers certainly aren’t steering clear of technology altogether. In fact, our most recent research found that the majority of grocery shoppers (59%) are using their phones as a shopping tool while browsing the grocery store aisles.

[bctt tweet=”59% of grocery shoppers use their phones as an in-store shopping tool.” username=”powerofreviews”]

How exactly are in-store grocery shoppers using their phones while shopping? The most popular activities are finding or redeeming coupons (32%) and reviewing shopping lists (30%). Grocery shoppers are also using their phones in-store to find product information prior to purchase, including recipes (20%), ratings and reviews (17%) and competitor prices (16%).

In-Store Grocery Shoppers Want Reviews for Products that are New (or New to Them)

A consumer may not ordinarily seek out reviews for a grocery item that she purchases each week—such as cereal. But if she’s considering a cereal she’s never purchased before, there’s a certain amount of risk involved. Reviews can help mitigate this risk.

It makes sense, then, that the majority (68%) of in-store grocery shoppers are interested in accessing product ratings and reviews while shopping for new products in a grocery store. Be sure to incorporate review generation into product launches — consumers want to find this content.

[bctt tweet=”68% of in-store grocery shoppers are interested in finding reviews for new products.” username=”powerofreviews”]

Reviews Sway In-Store Grocery Shoppers

We know that 72% of online grocery shoppers are more likely to purchase a grocery item they’ve never purchased before if there are customer reviews for that product. And our latest research found that reviews also have the power to sway in-store shoppers: more than half (52%) of in-store shoppers are more likely to purchase a grocery item they’ve never purchased before if there are reviews for that product. Again, this points to the importance of generating plenty of reviews, especially for new products.

Shoppers Want Reviews on Store Signage

Our survey found that while in-store grocery shoppers are using their phones for various shopping related tasks, 41% admit they don’t use their phone to help them shop. It makes sense, then, that more than half (56%) of in-store grocery shoppers prefer to find reviews on store signage.

Shopper marketing professionals, take note: now’s the time to start providing your shoppers with review content in-store. Featuring this content in your stores can be as simple as displaying star ratings and customer reviews on cardboard signs alongside your products, similar to what Amazon does in their bookstore locations.

In-Store Shoppers Also Seek Reviews Online

As mentioned previously, a majority of grocery shoppers are using their phones as a grocery shopping tool. So, understandably, in addition to the 56% of shoppers who want to find reviews on store signage, 25% prefer to find reviews on the store’s mobile app, and the remaining 19% want to find reviews using the store’s website via a mobile phone.

Be sure you’re appealing to your mobile-savvy, in-store shoppers by ensuring you have plenty of reviews on your website and mobile app, too. As an added bonus, this content helps ensure your product pages are showing up in search engine results, too.

Wrapping Things Up

The way consumers shop for groceries is evolving, driven by the growing number of shopping options and the desire to easily access product information, regardless of the shopping channel. Leading grocery brands and retailers are adapting their strategies to more effectively meet the expectations of today’s grocery shoppers. If you’re a grocery brand or retailer, now’s the time to rethink your strategy to better connect with shoppers across channels.

Beyond the supermarket shelves resource download.

Best Practices for Product Sampling

By now, most businesses understand that ratings and reviews are a powerful tool to increase traffic, conversion and insights. One effective way to quickly collect more of this powerful content is product sampling.

Product sampling campaigns are a quick and simple way for brands and retailers to increase product review content for both new and existing products. They allow brands and retailers to collect a large amount of review content in a short amount of time and are practical for products of any size — even products as large as luggage and mattresses.

At PowerReviews, we’ve found that brands and retailers using product sampling campaigns see an 85% review completion rate, on average, with some clients seeing completion rates as high as 97%. Read on to learn six tips that can help you get the most from your product sampling campaign.

1. Know what you’re trying to accomplish

Maybe you’re looking to generate a high volume of reviews for one particular product, or perhaps you’re hoping to generate reviews across multiple items in your product catalog. Either way, it’s important to understand your end goal in order to run a successful product sampling campaign.

Some brands and retailers opt to send out a low volume of samples for a wide range of products in order to achieve high coverage — the number of products that have reviews. This is important because on average, when PowerReviews customers go from displaying 0 reviews to at least 1 review for a given product, they see a 108% lift in traffic, a 65% lift in conversion and a 92% lift in sales.

Some businesses set out to generate a high volume of reviews for one particular product. This strategy can be used to generate a high volume of content prior to product launches. The resulting reviews give customers the confidence to convert and provide insights to help brands and retailers identify and fix any product flaws before the launch.

2. Know your target audience

Make sure the people who receive your samples are part of your ideal audience. This will ensure you’re sending to more engaged recipients, and in turn, you’ll see higher review collection rates. Here are a couple ways to do this:

Send surveys
Always send surveys to your potential sampling recipients with targeted questions about your products. For example, if you’re running a sampling program for a toy train, you might ask if the recipient has any children between the ages of five and 10. And make sure you send new surveys for each campaign. This ensures you’re sending your samples to people who are engaged and active, leading to higher collection rates.

Cultivate your database
It’s beneficial to work with a sampling provider that has a database of customers with many different backgrounds. For example, the PowerReviews sampling database has been cultivated over the last 10 years to ensure that all potential demographics can be targeted by our customers. As a result, PowerReviews can target specific client personas for different campaigns. For each campaign, we screen our database with qualifying questions and then only distribute the samples to the respondents who meet our client’s specific criteria. We also pull live data points and verify contact information for every campaign.

3. Understand which products lend themselves to the most successful campaigns

At PowerReviews, we’ve found that product sampling campaigns are especially effective for these three types of products:

Product launches
Shoppers are much less likely to purchase a product that doesn’t have reviews. In fact, a recent PowerReviews study found that 45% of shoppers will turn to a search engine if there aren’t reviews (or aren’t enough reviews) for a product on a brand or retailer site. Prior to launching new products, execute a sampling campaign to ensure you have plenty of reviews available.

Seasonal promotions
For products with a short shelf life, such as holiday-themed items, it’s key to generate reviews quickly. A pre-season sampling program will make sure your seasonal product has plenty of reviews available when consumers start actively shopping for it.

Targeted products
Most likely, there are other products in your catalog that are in need of additional review content. One good example is products that have high traffic but low conversion. Run a sampling campaign for that targeted product to generate reviews — and in turn, give customers that are coming to your product pages the confidence to convert.

4. Time your sampling campaign right

A common misconception is that you need to wait for a product to be live on your site before running a sampling campaign– but that’s not the case. Instead, run these campaigns before the product is live in order to launch with plenty of reviews.

On average, sampling campaigns last 6-8 weeks, and we start seeing reviews generated at the end of the third week. At PowerReviews, we recommend that brands and retailers complete a sampling campaign prior to the product being live on your site or on a retailer’s site. This gives you time to collect all reviews, syndicate them and fix any product issues mentioned in reviews.

5. Send post purchase emails after consumers receive their samples

Send Collect Emails to the recipients once they’ve gotten their samples, encouraging them to write a review for your product. And make it easy for them to write a review — don’t make them log into a portal to write content about your products. Instead, make sure that the collect email you send has a direct link to the write a review form.

With PowerReviews, we send an initial email telling the participants the product has been shipped (with a tracking number when available). We also include the write a review form in this email. Then, we send a series of follow-up emails to maximize collection rates.

PowerReviews clients can customize when post purchase emails are sent. For example, a toy retailer might want to collect reviews within the first week after sending a children’s toy, but a mattress company would want to wait a couple months to give the recipient time to experience the new mattress.

6. Badge reviews appropriately

When it comes to product sampling, transparency is key. In order to preserve trust and transparency, be sure to indicate which reviews were written as a result of the sampling campaign.

A 5 star rating for a lip balm, written as a result of a product sampling campaign

Product Sampling Experts

To see what a company that’s running successful product sampling campaigns looks like, see what’s new with our friends at Vornado. The company’s first sampling campaign resulted in an 83% completion rate, and their most recent sampling campaign had a 97% completion rate. Plus, the reviews collected from sampling campaigns are 44% longer than those collected organically. This is important since recent PowerReviews research found that the longer a review, the more likely it is to garner helpful votes.

Ready to start collecting more reviews with product sampling? Get in touch with PowerReviews to learn more!

Filling your product pages with fresh, rich content helps drive more traffic to your site and helps your customers learn more about the products they’re perusing. One way to ensure your product pages are updated frequently with fresh content that’s relevant to your consumers is by implementing question and answer (Q&A) software on your website.

Q&A software allows your prospective customers to, you guessed it, ask questions about the products they’re interested in. In turn, quickly answering your customers’ purchase-blocking questions increases conversion and drives traffic to your product pages. On average, when a product goes from displaying 0 answers to at least one answer, brands and retailers see an 88% lift in traffic, and an 82% lift in conversion for that product.

q&a software statistics

Giving shoppers access to this information at the point of purchase can — and will — impact whether or not they convert. In fact, the leading furniture retailer Room & Board noted that the conversion rate for consumers who either read reviews or questions and answers was 95% higher than the site average.

This complete guide to question and answer technology will explore everything you need to know about Q&A software. Learn how to leverage this software to increase conversion, generate more insights and bring more traffic to your product pages. If you’re looking for answers to specific questions, use the jump links below to navigate to that section, or simply read on.

  1. Why is Q&A Software Important
  2. Who Should Answer Customer Questions
  3. Question and Answer Best Practices
  4. How Do You Get Q&A Software On Your Site

Why is Q&A Software Important?

When consumers are shopping, they’re likely to have questions about the items they’re considering. This is why the content generated from Q&A is extremely valuable– 55% of U.S. online adults are likely to abandon their online purchase if they cannot find a quick answer to their question, according to Forrester. Question and answer technology allows your shoppers to find answers to the questions that stand in the way of them making a purchase.

Increasing Conversion by Answering Purchase-Blocking Questions

Q&A increases conversion by enabling you to provide fast answers to questions from online shoppers. No matter how detailed the product description, some shoppers may still have additional questions they need answered before they’re comfortable enough to convert. Giving them the option to ask questions is vital, as 45% of Centennials said they wouldn’t buy a product if they couldn’t ask a question about it.

quote on the importance of q&a software

The way our friends at Skechers describe it is simple. “Because a customer who submits a question is already engaged, if we can give them the answer they want in a timely fashion they usually buy the shoe.”

Increase Organic Traffic to Product Pages

It’s important to optimize your product pages for search, since 35% of shoppers start their purchase journey on Google or another search engine. The good news is, search engines prize fresh, relevant content. Having Q&A software on your website allows for a steady stream of fresh, relevant content, which helps improve your placement on search engines which, in turn, increases your site traffic. As previously mentioned, PowerReviews customers see, on average, an 88% lift in traffic when products go from displaying 0 answers to at least 1 answer.

impact of Q&A software

Generate Better Insights for Products

Businesses with Q&A software can analyze the questions that are frequently asked by visitors to determine if there’s a need to enhance product descriptions. Let’s say you’re a furniture retailer and notice consumers frequently post questions about products in your bedroom category. You can take this opportunity to add more detailed product descriptions on your site, to reduce the amount of questions being submitted.

2. Who Should Answer Customer Questions?

OK, so you know answering customers’ questions increases your conversion rate. But you’re worried about burdening your team with all those questions. Good news — customer questions can be answered by a number of different people. In fact, using multiple answer sources will help alleviate some of the burden on your customer service representatives. Leverage internal subject matter experts and previous buyers, or gain access to the PowerReviews on-demand answer community.

Internal Subject Matter Experts

Subject matter experts are your brand education and customer service teams. They’re best suited to respond to questions from consumers since they deal with similar questions on a daily basis. Set them up with access to your Q&A dashboard and they can start answering customer questions. If you’re a PowerReviews customer, these answers will be badged as ‘customer care,’ to verify their authenticity.

example of answered product question

Product Owners
Who knows your product better than someone who’s already purchased and used it? Asking a product owner helps speed up response time and allows consumers to hear from others like them. Plus, nearly two thirds of Centennials (consumers between the ages of 13-18) prefer having their questions answered by previous customers rather than a retailer.

When a potential buyer asks a question, your product owners are notified through an email and invited to answer the inquiry in order to help the shoppers make the right buying decision. In addition to speeding up the response time, allowing your product owners to answer questions gives you the opportunity to re-engage your customer base and turn your product owners into brand advocates and regular content contributors.

example of answer question

PowerReviews On-Demand Answer Community
PowerReviews customers can send unanswered questions to a vetted group of online researchers. If a product owner doesn’t answer a customer’s question fast enough, it will then be sent to the on-demand answer community where the answers then filter through our moderation process.

3. Q&A Best Practices

Now that you understand the impact of question and answer technology and you’ve implemented a Q&A solution on your website, read on for five tips for making the most of this solution.

Take It Slow
If you’re not sure about the volume of questions your team will be equipped to handle, take it slow. Launch Q&A on a few product pages, or on a specific category, to get a sense for the volume and types of questions you’ll be receiving. At PowerReviews, we recommend launching on your most popular products so you get a good baseline expectation and can adjust bandwidth accordingly.

Intelligently Route Questions
Questions asked on your site can go to different question queues based on the type of question. You can keep it simple and route all questions to a general queue, or you can route specific questions to different kinds of people. For example, maybe you want questions about shipping to go to a subject matter expert, but you want any questions having to do with a product and its use to go to a product owner.

You can also route questions in the case of answers not being generated in a given period of time. For example, a customer asks a question and first it’s sent to your product owners, if after 48 hours it’s not answered, it’ll be routed to your internal subject matter experts. If after 48 hours it’s not answered by them, it will be routed to the PowerReviews on-demand answer community.

Pre-Seed Questions
Your customer service team is likely already logging product questions as they receive and answer them. Take note of commonly asked questions and use this information to seed questions and answers into your Q&A platform so you can proactively answer frequently asked questions.

Leverage Q&A Search
With Q&A Search, customers have the ability to filter through previously asked questions, to see if similar questions have already been submitted by other shoppers. This function helps to minimize repeat questions and get answers to customers even quicker.

Quickly Answer Questions
As stated above, 55% of U.S. online adults are likely to abandon their online purchase if they cannot find a quick answer to their question, according to Forrester. This is why quickly answering your shoppers’ questions is a key way to increase conversion. The PowerReviews recommendation is to answer questions in 24 hours or less for the best customer experience.

4. How to get Q&A Software On Your Site

Q&A increases both traffic to product pages and conversion rates, and generates actionable  insights to improve your products and the customer experience. Here’s how to start collecting Q&A content on your site today.

Choosing a Q&A Software Provider

Choosing the best Q&A software provider for your business doesn’t have to be a tedious process. Here are some questions you’ll want to ask that will help you choose from the providers you’re considering.

  • How easy is the implementation process?
  • Are product updates easy to add?
  • What does the interface look like? Is it easy to use?
  • Does the platform offer multiple ways to answer questions as quickly as possible?
  • Are there proven customer case studies that prove the value of the software?
  • What data and reporting tools are available to help me analyze my company’s performance?
  • Will my client success director provide best practices and push me to make the most of my Q&A software?

q&a software checklist

Implementing Product Q&A Software

If you’re a current PowerReviews customer and already have ratings and reviews on your site, you can add Q&A to your site with minimal effort — simply contact your Client Success Director to get started. If you are not yet using PowerReviews, reach out today to learn how you can start collecting questions from your customers.