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WEBINAR REVIEW Staying relevant: Creating a personal shopping experience that drives sales

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In a recent Internet Retailing webinar, Bazaarvoice and Stibo Systems joined forces to talk about ways of creating rich shopping experiences using product information and social feedback.

The speakers in the half-hour event were Aurelien Dubot, product marketing manager, EMEA at Bazaarvoice, and Simon Walker, director, ecommerce innovation at Stibo Systems.

Research shows that a quarter of shoppers have researched a product over their mobile phone while standing in a shop, with more than half going on to buy from a competitor. When having a store is expensive, what’s the best approach to showrooming – aside from charging people to enter the shop, as one Australian retailer did? That was the subject tackled by Aurelien Dubot, product marketing maanger, EMEA at Bazaarvoice, the opening speaker in a recent Internet Retailing webinar. He explained how disconnected shopping experiences can see shoppers move elsewhere to buy.

Connected shopping experiences

A connected experience, he suggested, might start online with a search engine that pointed a shopper towards a site that had strong user-generated content in the form of ratings and reviews. That would give them social validation of the product they were looking at alongside the marketing descriptions. That makes it easier for consumers to narrow down their choices.

The shopper might then move to the store. In the US, said Dubot, Bazaarvoice is working with an app that shop assistants can use to help shoppers decide by comparing reviews from ‘people like them’. Reviews can also be placed on price tags in store in a “simple yet effective” move.

Shoppers are still likely to use mobile in the store, but enabling free wi-fi in store will take those who log in direct to the retailer’s home page, where in-store offers and discounts might be posted. “When I go to the till and use it, my purchase is linked to my email and the retailer has then a legitimate opportunity to reconnect with me later to ask for a review,” said Dubot. Argos estimates that each post-purchase email it sends out is worth £4 of retail sales. Over 10,000 sales, that adds up.

Competing on price is “tough” said Dubot, since being the cheapest hits the bottom line. But user experience enables another kind of competition. Allowing customers to comment and suppliers to answer their questions and reviews improves the shopping experience, he said. Dubot argues that a proactive approach is required when it comes to leveraging comments from suppliers and consumers. “This is a big data goldmine that you can start using for purposes from marketing to product assortment.”

Using Big Data to improve the experience

Simon Walker, director, ecommerce innovations, at Stibo Systems, continued the webinar with a look at how retailers can use Big Data to improve the customer experience. He started by considering the volumes of data that retailers now need in order to display their products across a wide variety of sales channels. Before Toys R Us, for example, implemented its own product information management (PIM) system (PIM), it found each product was described by 418 data attributes across its supply chain and ecommerce systems. Across the whole product range that meant more than 77,000 data attributes to be dealt with. But PIM systems can be used to connect data from suppliers and partners for use by consumers across sales channels, allowing retailers to manage that data more effectively. “PIM-powered commerce puts product data flexibility at the heart of multichannel selling, across all devices, all channels, all segments and markets,” said Walker.

PIM systems can also provide a home for data that comes from ratings, reviews and other areas. This can be used to improve the way products are displayed when merchandisers and copywriters analyse product performance to improve product descriptions. “For example poor product reviews may be due to product information not addressing customers’ questions or concerns, resulting in poor satisfaction,” said Walker. Two UK high street retailers are integrating Bazaarvoice with the Stibo Systems STEP PIM system in order to show social feedback alongside product information.

Reliable and consistent data, from product information, purchasing and sales measurements, to sales history and social comment, also ultimately improves personalisation and customer experience, said Walker. “By blending the structured data with controlled workflow and flexible usage, a PIM brings data alive for effective selling in a dynamic changing crosschannel world,” he said.

The half-hour webinar ended with a question and answer session covered questions ranging from examples of retailers who do ratings and reviews well to how PIM systems can help retailers improve their retail sales, to the importance of localising information for international markets, and integration with legacy systems.

To hear the webinar for yourself, to view the accompanying slides and hear the question and answer session in full, visit the Bazaarvoice/Stibo Systems webinar page. For details of our other webinars visit our webinars page.

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