Online businesses can add new community features that help customers connect with each other to get the answers they need to influence purchase decisions

Bazaarvoice, the market and technology leader in hosted social commerce applications that drive sales, has extended its product line with the launch of Ask & Answer. Ask & Answer taps the power of online communities to address the unanswered questions that can stop a purchase and send a shopper to a competing site.

The new service is built on Bazaarvoice’s flagship Ratings & Reviews platform, which has enabled over 130 leading online businesses in the US and UK, including Dell, HP, QVC, figleaves.com and Early Learning Centre, to achieve word of mouth marketing success.

Launched in February 2006, the Ratings & Reviews solution offers an easy way for businesses to facilitate and listen to online customer-to-customer conversations. Bazaarvoice currently handles more than 250 million reviews per month and is used by eight out of ten of the top US retailers who outsource ratings and reviews. *1
Industry-wide, Bazaarvoice has been instrumental in building a new market, resulting in the launch of ratings and reviews on 46 percent of US eCommerce sites; double the 23 percent of sites that offered the functionality in 2005. *2

Ask & Answer draws on the advantages of Bazaarvoice’s ratings and reviews solution – outsourced technology, community management services, analytics and open syndication – to ensure maximum business impact from consumer-generated content.

“With average conversion rates under three percent, there is a huge information gap to fill to help customers make purchase decisions,” said Sam Decker, Chief Marketing Officer at Bazaarvoice. “Ask & Answer keeps customers on the product, category or service page. Any visitor can ask a question, answer a question, and read the answers right where they are to accelerate a purchase decision.”

*1 Internet Retailer Top 100, May 2007
*2 MarketingSherpa, February 2007

Ask & Answer: how it works

The hosted and fully managed Ask & Answer service integrates seamlessly with a brand’s site to allow customers to share product information with other customers online. Key features include:

• Hosted Technology: Ask & Answer is offered as a software-as-service solution that seamlessly integrates with Bazaarvoice Ratings & Reviews functionality, and can integrate with email, web analytics and existing discussion forum software. Product page and category-level implementation can be completed in approximately 20 IT hours with no software or hardware to buy, install, upgrade, or maintain. Ask & Answer is a fully customisable white-label solution that blends seamlessly with the retailer’s brand, customer authentication and user experience. Custom integration is available with over thirty eCommerce leaders in site search and navigation, email marketing, web analytics, and personalisation and recommendations.

• Moderation & Management: Bazaarvoice specialises in professional content moderation. Human review and best-practice policies work together to ensure accuracy and relevancy of answers. Questions and answers are screened for profanity, racial slurs, and inappropriate comments. Bazaarvoice’s community managers also work closely with each client to execute a proven community and content-development strategy that maximizes the benefits of consumer-generated content. Clients can also choose to moderate content and manage their community on their own.

• Analytics: Ask & Answer incorporates analysis of answer content and trends to derive greater impact from word of mouth. In-depth insights and content-management capabilities are available via the Bazaarvoice Workbench and the Bazaarvoice Answer Management tools. Each Bazaarvoice client is also assigned a dedicated community manager to develop recurring insights, reports and executive presentations to drive business improvements. Community managers provide tactical and strategic recommendations across multiple product categories to improve product merchandising, product management, customer service and marketing.

• Open Syndication: Bazaarvoice clients are also able to amplify the business impact of customer-to-customer conversations by extending answer content beyond their Web sites to attract new customers. Ask & Answer search engine optimised (SEO) landing pages effectively attract natural search traffic from Google, Yahoo!, and other leading search engines.

About Bazaarvoice
Bazaarvoice (www.bazaarvoice.co.uk) offers outsourced technology, hosting services, analytics and expertise to help brands enhance the online shopping experience with social commerce applications that drive sales. Launched by web analytics pioneer and Coremetrics founder Brett Hurt in the US in 2005, Bazaarvoice’s stable of 130 clients include Hewlett Packard, Dell, Early Learning Centre and figleaves.com. Bazaarvoice Ratings & Reviews and Ask & Answer™ products help brands to maximize the impact of user-generated review content through customisation, deep integration, community management, advanced analytics, search engine optimisation and syndication across the Web. Bazaarvoice’s services empower consumers to share honest opinions and influence each other to make more informed and rewarding purchase decisions. Bazaarvoice was named Marketing Innovation of the Year in the 2006 US ClickZ Marketing Excellence Awards and received a “Red Herring 100 North America” award from Red Herring magazine.

For further information please contact:
Claire Armitt
flannel communications
claire.armitt@no-flannel.com
020 7754 5507

Published on: 12:00AM on 29th October 2007