User-generated content to influence nationwide home improvement retailer’s online business; supporting marketing activity and informing on future online enhancements.

Homebase is developing plans to utilise online customer product reviews across multiple channels in 2009; allowing user-generated content to influence many aspects of its business.

The nationwide home improvement retailer, which has over 300 stores and trades online, intends to use its 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 authentic customer opinions.

This initiative forms part of the broader multi-channel development strategy that has seen, in the last 12 months, a new website to improve online commercial sales and support commencement of online marketing programmes. In addition, new functionality such as Stock Check and the ability for customers to book appointments online support Homebase stores to drive footfall and sales.

Social commerce technology company Bazaarvoice has been appointed by Homebase, alongside sister company Argos, to implement its hosted Ratings & Reviews solution. Currently, customers who make a purchase online are sent an email from the retailer inviting them to return to the site to leave a product review.

A high response rate to the email invitation 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 wait for an invite – meaning that customers buying in store, or by phone, also have the opportunity to share their views on the products purchased.

“Left alone on the website they do a job, but the far-reaching benefits of customer reviews can be deployed elsewhere,” said Scott Fraser, E-commerce 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 retailer 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; Homebase has some exciting plans for leveraging the customer voice and allowing these opinions to influence and drive its online business,” said Brett Hurt, Founder and CEO of Bazaarvoice.

About Homebase
Homebase is the UK’s second largest home improvement retailer and is recognised for choice, style and customer service across the wider home enhancement market. It has more than 300 large, out-of-town stores throughout the UK and Republic of Ireland. In the last financial year, Homebase sales were £1.6 billion and it employed some 20,000 people across the business.

Homebase sells over 30,000 products across its home enhancement ranges, and has a growing Internet offering. Homebase serves 70 million customers per year through its stores and offers customers the convenience of home delivery for bulky, high-value items.
In November 2007, Homebase won Britain’s Best Superstore Manager of the Year for the second year running (awarded by DIY Week). Homebase was the first UK DIY retailer to achieve Forest Stewardship Council Chain of Custody certification and the first national DIY retailer to be recognised with a Government TrustMark Award, achieved for its kitchen installation service.

Homebase is part of Home Retail Group, the UK’s leading home and general merchandise retailer.

For further information on Homebase please contact:
Media Relations
media.relations@homebase.co.uk
0845 1204365 / 0771 3064079

About Bazaarvoice
Bazaarvoice (www.bazaarvoice.co.uk) is a social commerce technology company. It helps over 350 brands globally including Boots, Thomas Cook, QVC and Boden to harness and amplify customer online word of mouth.

Bazaarvoice’s products - Ratings & Reviews™, Ask & Answer™ and Stories™ - are social commerce applications that drive sales. They enable customers to review products, ask and answer questions and share stories online; enhancing the online shopping experience and allowing them to make more informed and rewarding purchase decisions. Benefits for the retailer include content ownership, seamless customisation, increased search engine optimisation impact, advanced analytics and syndication across the web. Retailers can also leverage the content generated across on and offline marketing channels.

Founded in 2005, Bazaarvoice has offices in the UK, US, France and Singapore. The company was named in 2007’s Red Herring Global 100. The blog is at www.bazaarblog.com.

For further information on Bazaarvoice please contact:
Claire Armitt
flannel
claire.armitt@no-flannel.com
01273 779449 / 07985 297842

Published on: 8:11AM on 23rd March 2009