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Homebase to use customer reviews in evolving multi-channel strategy

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Homebase has revealed it intends to use online customer opinions to develop a better understanding of the popularity of its product ranges and create new promotional opportunities. Homebase will also implement new online customer experience initiatives in 2009 based on its customer opinions.

The initiative forms part of a broader multi-channel development strategy that, over the last year, has also seen the introduction of a new website and an online Check & Reserve service.

Social commerce technology company Bazaarvoice has been appointed by Homebase and sibling Argos to implement its hosted Ratings & Reviews solution.

Customers who make a purchase online are now sent an email inviting them to return to the site to leave a product review, and a good response to these invitations has given Homebase an initial pool of several thousand reviews.

Within the next three months the service is to be opened up, allowing customers to post reviews directly online rather than having to wait for an invitation — meaning that customers buying in store or by phone will also have the opportunity to share their views on products.

"Left alone on the website they do a job, but the far-reaching benefits of customer reviews can be deployed elsewhere," said Scott Fraser, ecommerce proposition manager at Homebase. "We're investigating where, and how, we are going to use the content, with potential applications being customer brochures and in-store POS. Another area that will see an impact is our natural search position because of the inherent benefit of featuring customer-created content on our site. Customer reviews can, and will, help us improve almost every area of our online business."

The DIY retailer says it has already carried out successful email campaigns promoting 'Best Buy' products and ranges as chosen by customers.

"Homebase is a great example of a nationwide name allowing its brand to become customer-centric through the use of reviews," says Brett Hurt, founder and CEO of Bazaarvoice. "Homebase has some exciting plans for leveraging the customer voice and allowing these opinions to influence and drive its online business."
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