In the Spring of 2020, home improvement retail outlets – while deemed “essential retailers” – were not immune from COVID constraints. Manufacturing shortages, supply chain disruptions, and shipping delays all made finding raw materials for home renovation projects challenging. Store shopper capacity limitations further complicated matters.
Fortunately, Home Outlet had made a series of smart moves to put a solid ecommerce foundation in place to respond to these challenges digitally. Its ecommerce operation enabled shoppers to research products, check inventory, make purchases, and even reserve inventory for pick up weeks later in the store – enabling customers to continue to obtain all the tools and materials they needed for their home projects even in the midst of a global pandemic.
As part of this transition, the company had made an investment in a ratings and reviews program (powered by PowerReviews), with the goal of enhancing the customer experience through the display of authentic customer feedback and images on its online building supply product pages.
Best Practice Recommendations Lead to More Reviews
Home Outlet went live with PowerReviews in January 2020. Following launch, the company was able to collect 195 reviews in the first 7 months with an average rating of 4.47 stars. By proactively sending customers emails post-purchase to solicit reviews, Home Outlet was able to add 151 reviews to the tally.
“PowerReviews reporting shows us exactly the level of interactions with user-generated reviews and imagery, so we can see it absolutely is having a positive impact. I appreciate how the PowerReviews’ customer success team is always passing along best practices and recommendations to improve – almost always at no additional cost,” said Chastain. “We saw an immediate increase in the number of reviews coming in as a result of these recommendations, which has continued to enhance our return on investment.”
One of the recommendations was to offer reviewers entry into a sweepstakes to generate more review content in a cost-effective way. Sweepstakes are proven to improve review generation by up to 100% and PowerReviews makes the process of sweepstakes implementation easy; all PowerReviews customers are able to use the $1,000 PowerReviews Sweepstakes program to incentivize customers (i.e. one prize for all participants from all brands and retailers). The cost is covered by PowerReviews and the prize is refreshed every six weeks. “We gave the sweepstakes a go and we love it,” said Chastain.
User-Generated Content Helping Propel Company Growth
At Home Outlet, user generated content is driving the entire business forward. All 1-star and 5-star reviews are passed along to the company’s Marketing, Customer Service, and Purchasing teams. Highly-rated products are promoted in marketing communications, while poor reviews are evaluated to determine the root cause of dissatisfaction with the experience – such as a lack of consumer understanding about proper implementation, which may offer an opportunity to educate a frustrated customer or to have them return the product for a refund. If multiple reviews indicate a product doesn’t meet customers’ standards or expectations, the company’s Purchasing department investigates and/or may opt to drop the product from the purchasing schedule.
By leveraging insights from user-generated content, the company can safeguard customer and product satisfaction – key to supporting revenue growth. The combination of COVID influencing shifting buying behaviors and the addition of ratings and reviews is helping build the company’s online business; this year the company expects to achieve a major milestone – the doubling of its online business year-over-year.
Working in Lockstep with Home Outlet to Bolster Success
Moving forward, Home Outlet will work to implement SMS review collection. This was a PowerReviews recommendation since the company’s data shows that 63% of Home Outlet shoppers have used a mobile device to write a review. SMS is a powerful review collection method industry-wide, with PowerReviews best-practice methods resulting in a 98% open rate and a 45% conversion rate. PowerReviews has validated review collection via text message results in an 87% opt-in rate – or a four-fold response rate.
As well, the company plans to implement PowerReviews’ Q&A software, which enables brands to showcase consumers’ frequently asked questions and answers right at the point of purchase. This function has been found to significantly increase conversion and drive traffic to 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.
“We chose wisely. The relationship we have with PowerReviews feels very personal. I have a team I can rely on and this empowers us to allocate our internal resources to other areas of the business. We will be customers for a very long time.”