Customers sharing experiences bring 250% higher conversion rate for specialty website

Summary

Hong Kong Import’s program with Bazaarvoice gives customers an easy way to ask for advice, comment on products and find what they’re looking for.

Fishing is easy. Catching a fish is hard. People often rely on the expertise and experience of others to help them succeed.

That’s the simple yet brilliant premise behind Hong Kong Import Ltd’s decision to open an online shop targeting people who like to fish. The company’s desire was to create an online community that would foster recommendations from experts to beginners and in turn encourage buying decisions. The only missing elements were a social platform to capture these conversations on the website and a sufficient amount of reviews to ensure the goal would be reached.

The program Hong-Kong Ltd implemented with Bazaarvoice now gives customers an easy way to ask for advice, comment on products and find what they were looking for.

Turning experts into advocates online

“People who really know how to fish know a lot of things you can do to catch fish, such as using a certain type of lure when it’s sunny,” explains Miika Malinen, eCommerce Director, Hong Kong Import Ltd. “The idea is that those good fishermen could tell the others how to fish and help them catch more fish.”

What does that mean for Malinen’s business? He says that when people become successful at fishing, they become more passionate about it. And that ultimately can lead to more spending on the website.

“People like me who enjoy fishing but catch something only one time in a hundred are going to spend maybe 20 euros a year on fishing products,” he says. “But for someone with a passion, 500 or even 1,000 euros is small change.”

Converting more visitors to customers

The company’s results bear out the influence on buying behavior when consumers are able to share information with each other online. In the first three months of the programme, the company saw a 250% increase in conversion for site visitors who interacted with product reviews or who participated in asking questions online.

Malinen attributes some of that success to the fact that the website launched with 3,000 product reviews ready to publish, thanks to an initiative in which hard-core fishermen were invited to try various products and review them ahead of the launch.

“Our success with user-generated content has also had a positive effect on our brand,” notes Malinen. “It’s really raised our profile, because other people and companies want to know how we did it.”

Next: Generating more content and going more mobile

To generate even more online content, the company has two new initiatives planned – sending out post-interaction email, and expanding the Bazaarvoice program to include customer stories.

They asked customers on Facebook for topic ideas and have settled on three: most memorable catch, biggest fishing disaster and, of course, the one that got away. They’ll be choosing a winning story and doing a promotion around it.

The other area where the company plans to expand the use of customer content is in mobile ecommerce in order to provide rich content and guidance to their customers wherever they are, even on a boat.

The bottom line

Hong Kong Import Ltd. made Bazaarvoice Conversations an integral part of a new online store targeting people who like to fish, in recognition of the importance of peer influence in this area. As a result, the company saw a 250% increase in conversion among website visitors who interacted with user-generated content. Now, they are planning initiatives to generate more content and to reach through mobile applications.

About Hong Kong Import Ltd

Founded in 1989, Hong Kong Import Ltd owns and operates 22 Hong Kong Department Stores, located mainly in the southern part of Finland, and a highly developed eCommerce webstore with different shops focused on fishing, doit- yourself and toys. The group currently employs over 650 employees, and its total annual sales are estimated at €120 million.

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