Even a single review increases conversions for Officeworks
To measure the impact of user-generated content (UGC) on the customer decision-making process, Officeworks recently conducted testing across thousands of product pages.
The data showed that when products on Officeworks’ website received their first review, the conversion rate increased, demonstrating the role ratings and reviews plays in helping customers choose the best products.
What is one review worth?
The supplier of office products first launched its study with one question in mind—what is one review worth?
“We wanted to know the conversion uplift of products after they get their first reviews from customers,” said Steve Healy, E-Commerce Manager at Officeworks. “We looked at the sales and conversion rate when a product didn’t have any reviews for three months compared to the three-month period after getting its first review.”
This approach helped isolate the impact of reviews and ensure other factors weren’t influencing the results, such as product popularity or quality of the visitors.
“You could say that products that get reviews might actually just be popular products, or that people who look at reviews convert higher because they’re more engaged customers and the ones looking for every bit of information. That’s why we captured the before-and-after view. We were keen to understand the causation that a review has on conversion versus correlation,” said Karen Martins, eCommerce Merchandise Lead at Officeworks.
The uplift in conversion attributed to a product receiving its first review is especially significant when taking into account the number of products with at least one review, which is expected to increase as Officeworks builds upon its current volume of 250,000 reviews.
“We currently have a 12% review coverage rate, so you can imagine how positive the sales impact will be as we get more reviews across more products. And regardless of volume, we see a higher conversion rate among visitors who read reviews, and they spent more,” said Martins.
Syndication from brands in the Bazaarvoice Network currently accounts for a majority of all of Officeworks’ reviews. In fact, many of the most popular brands that sell on the site would have little-to-no review volume on the key retail partner’s site if they weren’t collecting reviews on their own and distributing them to Officeworks.
Star ratings drives measurable success beyond the product page
After the initial study, Officeworks wanted to test the hypothesis that a product’s star rating could have a positive impact.
The retailer conducted A/B testing on category pages and found that displaying a product’s rating on those pages boosted purchase intent and conversions. Officeworks saw an increase in cart additions and lift in orders among products that displayed star ratings on category pages.
Further testing looked into the value in using a product’s ratings as a factor in the site’s search results algorithm to see what would happen if the retailer ranked products based on insight from customers and according to what they thought was best.
“For the control group, we used our traditional search algorithm that mainly takes into account a product’s sales over a four-month period to define the popularity and relevance, which determines the default rankings. We compared this to an algorithm that included star ratings as a data point and saw a conversion lift,” said Healy.
The tests proved that using star ratings in creative ways made it easier for shoppers to find the perfect product while increasing sales for the business.
“We now know that a small change, like showing a star rating in search aisles and adding more weight to a product’s rating when ordering results, has a positive result for the business and for the customer,” said Healy.
Leveraging UGC across the entire customer journey
The content benefits the business and customers during other phases of the customer journey beyond the point of conversion.
It supports awareness by driving organic traffic. It provides product pages with fresh, SEO-friendly content, boosts long-tail keyword traffic, and allows for star ratings on Google results pages. It supports discovery by giving consumers useful information that directs them to the products that best address their needs. Finally, asking customers for feedback gives Officeworks insights to inform site optimizations, which fuels customer retention.
“Our reviews program ultimately supports our strategy of making things easy and engaging for our customers during their shopping journey,” said Healy.
About the company
Established 26 years ago, Officeworks offers customers a wide range of office supplies, technology, furniture, art supplies, education resources and helpful services – delivering an experience that is easy and engaging, no matter how customers choose to shop. It operates 167 stores across Australia, a website that is home to more than 40,000 products, a national call centre, and a business team that helps micro, small and medium-sized businesses start, run and grow.
We now know that a small change, like showing a star rating in search aisles and adding more weight to a product’s rating when ordering results, has a positive result for the business and for the customer.