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Latest Issue: Nov/Dec 17

How consumer-generated content powers business growth

If you’re wondering how a leading UK digital retailer uses consumer-generated content (CGC) to empower customers and fuel growth, look no further than Argos. Argos is a leading UK digital retailer selling more than 60,000 products through its website, mobile channels, 850+ stores and over the telephone. Argos is the UK’s number one toy retailer and a market leader in homeware and electrical products.

Argos operates the UK’s third most visited website, with around a billion hits a year. More than half of Argos sales originate online and around 120 million customer transactions take place in stores each year. Its market-leading same-day Fast Track delivery service is available across more than 90per cent of UK postcodes, seven days a week, and Fast Track Collection offers free-of-charge pick up from any store in as little as 60 seconds. 

With a huge base of online customers and more than 850 stores, Argos recognised that consumers seek social reassurance from likeminded audiences, and that taking in the consolidated views and feedback is important to develop customer buy-in all year round. Partnering up with Bazaarvoice since 2008, Argos has developed a best-in-class CGC programme, gathering feedback and insights to sustain growth and help other shoppers make smart buying decisions for all its brands.

Getting all stakeholders to share their experience and feedback through CGC is hugely impactful; providing a platform to do so will build brand advocates and increase sales. In fact, research studies show theimportance of ratings and reviews on the path to purchase – accordingtoBazaarvoice’s recent CGC Index, when customers interact with CGC, retailers saw a 106per cent increase in conversion, while brands saw an increase of 90per cent.

Argos chose to work with Bazaarvoice to implement its CGC strategy, as it offers unparalleled reach, with more than 700 million people viewing and sharing authentic opinions, questions, and experiences about tens of millions of products in the Bazaarvoice network each month.

The solution: Customer-centric trading – CGC 2.0

Working closely with Argos, Bazaarvoice recommended a three-pronged, multichannel CGC strategy including Ratings & Reviews, Questions & Answers and Sampling aimed at increasing CGC volume and drive actionable insight for the business. Through this approach, Argos was able to enhance customer engagement, and use feedback to refine product offerings and improve the shopping experience.

Argos began by implementing Ratings and Reviews in 2008, followed by the Q&A solution in 2009. The implementation of Q&A was designed to increase and maintain brand participation all year round, and not just during peak trading periods. The insight gleaned from Q&As was exceptionally beneficial, and has subsequently been used by Argos to improve product information. The approach also helped to strengthen relationships between Argos’ brands and their customers, with the volume of answers from brands increasing by 31% YoY, looking at data from March to May 2017.

Argos easily resolves any questions around product usage and specifications, so that people buy the right product the first time and stay satisfied post-purchase. By answering questions live on the website for future shoppers, companies can eliminate the need for multiple one-off customer service calls. Questions also reveal ways to improve product copy.

Rob Jones, product reviews manager at Argos, noted that: “We use social data from our CGC platform for customer insight to improve products and services. More recently, there were a number of product reviews suggesting that the assembly instructions needed to be improved on our Camborne furniture range. Our Quality Assurance team then held build days to investigate the reasons why customers were finding assembly difficult. This resulted in the re-launch of brand new instructions with overall build quality improved too. By being proactive with CGC data we have vastly improved this product range and re-launched it in Summer 2017, we expect to see ratings increase too.”

Using Q&A to become a one-stop resource for customers In addition, Argos utilises Q&A to help customers make more informed purchase decisions. According to Jones, Q&A helped them discover meaningful insights about customer behaviour: “Questions and answers let your consumers, staff, and product experts fill in those missing details and unanticipated individual use cases. This way you can become a one-stop resource for your customers. As the community host, you become the preferred source for real answers, setting your site apart from competitors, boosting natural search traffic. Search engines elevate sites with fresh content. And the questions and answers on your site use the same natural language people use in searches.”

Using Sampling to accelerate CGC collection and reward loyal advocates

As part of its wider CGC strategy, Argos is also using the Bazaarvoice Sampling solution, which accelerates review collection and allows it to reward loyal advocates with its own branded product-sampling programme and community.

Joanna Steele, senior reviews & CGC manager at Argos, says “As we don’t display products in store, it can be a challenge to achieve high volumes of CGC on some of our larger ticket items as we do on others. In order to get those reviews, we are considering other ways to collect that content including inviting customers to events to touch, test and trial products and give their feedback.”

The retailer tries to build-up as much CGC volume as possible by expanding the Argos community. “We invite customers to join based on spend and the number of reviews they’ve written previously. We find out as much about them and their lifestyle as possible to ensure relevant products get into the right hands and offer guidelines advising on which features and benefits to focus on when reviewing, encouraging them to submit rich valuable content that will benefit other customers. We collect 30% more imagery this route compared to native review submission”, Steele added.

As Argos works with thousands of brands, across a wide range of categories and with different resources and budgets, this approach enabled the retailer to tailor activity to suit both the brands’ and the customers’ needs. The sampling solution accelerates content collection, and drives consumer engagement, which is proven to increase sales, further benefitting both Argos and its customer base.

Syndicating content to boost sales

In order to drive further CGC volume gathered through all of Bazaarvoice’s solutions, Argos syndicates content to distribute feedback from brand sites to its own website, improving product coverage and SEO, decreasing return and bounce rates, and boosting sales. The overall syndicated content represents 8% of Argos’ total volume of ratings and reviews. However, looking at some specific brands, syndicated content represents up to 50-60 per cent of the total content. This two-way syndication allows brands to capitalise on the review volume generated by Argos, significantly extend the reach of each individual piece beyond the consumers who visit their site, and access useful insight from a host of industries and regions, as well as consumer and market trends. In addition, it provides product feed optimisation for a better matching of products. A syndication strategy has driven significant business value for Argos; the retailer has collected over 4 million reviews, with one million collected last year alone. They have seen +20 per cent YoY syndicated review volume and +108 per cent questions submitted by customers in 2017 vs 2016.\

Fuelling business growth

Each of these three tactics drove dramatic results for Argos, and CGC overall has enabled the retailer to enhance its business, engage with customers and increase sales. Rob Jones, product reviews manager at Argos explains how its Buying team have benefited from Bazaarvoice Intelligence to improve their existing product offering by taking into account the customer feedback per segment: “We collect and leverage ratings and reviews, questions and answers, from our customers. It’s proven to increase sales and build brand loyalty. And it’s the heart of the Bazaarvoice platform.”