A few years ago, my wife and I visited Hell’s Kitchen Flea Market in New York City. Hundreds of people were milling about, multiple conversations among customers were taking place all around us, and prospective buyers were dickering over price with the dozens of vendors lined up in the marketplace. Needless to say, it was quite a different shopping experience than one would find in a traditional retail setting.
What’s taking place within social media is not so different. As a result, there is a need for brands to not only engage in the dialogue, but make sense of the data that exists, as well.
Founded in 2005, Bazaarvoice helps over 30% of the world’s leading global brands do just that — bring order to social commerce chaos. Through its products suite, the company provides customer intelligence and social data to aid brands in gathering, analyzing, filtering and taking action upon information gleaned from consumer interactions.
Its clients cross four sectors – retail, manufacturing, financial services and travel – and include such notable brands as: Macy’s, Panasonic, Infiniti, Timex, Avon, Bath & Body Works, Costco, Dell, L.L. Bean, Lowes, Office Depot, P&G and TicketMaster.
Bazaarvoice offers a suite of seven products:
Rating and Reviews – Bazaarvoice ratings and review platform enables brands to capture customer conversations on the brand’s own site, retailers’ sites and within social networks through social sharing. Further, the product helps brands better understand how consumers buy, what they value most and how the brand can fulfill their needs.
Ask & Answer – This product allows customers to ask questions and get the information needed while still early in the purchase process. Questions can be answered by other customers, brand staff members and manufacturers. Customers are automatically notified when a topic they addressed is being discussed.
Stories – Stories allow customers to share their brand experiences with others.
Customer Intelligence – Bazaarvoice Customer Intelligence is an analytics application that surfaces insights from customer data and conversations enabling brand to better understand customer segments and how they experience the brand’s products.
SocialConnect™ – According to a May 2011 Pew Internet survey, 65% of online adults use social networks — 43% used a social network “yesterday.” SocialConnect allows customers to connect with their social network of preference and share information with friends and followers.
Brand Answers – This product lets manufacturers and brands see shopper questions across their entire Bazaarvoice-powered retail and distribution network through a single portal. They can then answer the questions for every shopper’s benefit, and let consumers know their questions have been answered via automated alerts.
Smart SEO – On many retailer’s site, the majority of the content comes from ratings and reviews. BazaarVoice has designed its products with SEO in mind.
Relationship to Social Commerce
Social commerce is centered around the idea that customers talk to each other about brands and products, the net effect being that those conversations influence purchase decisions.
Bazaarvoice considers itself to be the “voice” of the marketplace (hence the name). Through its product lineup, the company seeks to give voice to the consumer and, at the same time, enable brands to listen to those conversations, understand what’s on the mind of the consumer, and engage with them on a more level playing field. In so doing, Bazaarvoice has put itself in the center of this sphere and is considered across the industry to be a leading proponent of the trend toward social shopping. The company even sponsors an annual conference on the topic called Social Commerce Summit.
Bazaarvoice has just one main competitor, Power Reviews (see our recent review). These two companies are the major players in the social commerce rating and review space and the market is pretty evenly split between the them. A number of other such companies exist, but are significantly smaller in terms of market share.
The main difference between Bazaarvoice and Power Reviews is that the latter got its start as an SMB solution and still retains that appeal, whereas Bazaarvoice has always been focused on the enterprise.
While Power Reviews certainly has an attractive offering, the fact that it spans the marketplace from SMB to Enterprise may give some large brands pause (As in “you can’t be all things to all people,” so to speak.).
In the review on Power Reviews, I noted that the enterprise version starts at around $1,500. Bazaarvoice choses not to disclose pricing, so I’m unable to draw a comparison in that case.
Benefits to Using Bazaarvoice
Thanks to an ample number of case studies contained on its website, the benefits to using the Bazaarvoice platform becomes self-evident. Here are just a few examples:
eSpares is the UK’s leading spare parts retailer. In October 2008, they partnered with Bazaarvoice to launch customer reviews and Ask & Answer. The result was that Q&A readers converted 45% more often than those who do not read Q&A. Those who read answers also had a higher average order value – and average lift of 3% as compared to those who did not read answers.
Adobe knew that it had strong brand advocates and wanted to encourage this audience to share its love of Adobe products and provide real-time feedback on new versions of the software.
Adobe implemented Bazaarvoice’s customer reviews program in April 2010. Prior to releasing new versions of its flagship products, Photoshop® and Photoshop® Extended, Adobe reached out to its prerelease community, offering early trials of the software. Once the community engaged with and tested the products, Adobe invited community members to provide their feedback by writing a review on the website, which could also be shared with friends via Facebook.
For the test group that saw reviews, Adobe experienced a 21% lift in conversion on the Photoshop® product description page, and a 54% lift in conversion on the Photoshop® Extended product description page, compared to the page without reviews. Adobe also realized increases in trials of both products when visitors saw reviews – 13% and 35%, respectively.
Jewelry Television, the nation’s fastest growing home shopping network, has relied on Bazaarvoice Ratings & Reviews since 2007 to help improve customer satisfaction, retention and conversion, first on television and online, and now as part of the company’s mobile presence. After integrating Ratings & Reviews with its mobile website, the fine-jewelry retailer experienced a 30.55% lift in conversion rate.
Bazaarvoice drives consumer engagement for more than 900 brands in 104 countries.
- Brett Hurt – Founder & CEO
- Brant Barton – Co-founder & Chief Innovation Officer
- Heather Brunner – Chief Operating Officer
- Mike Svatek – Chief Product Officer
- Mark Riggs – Chief Client Officer
- Michael Osborne – Chief Revenue Officer
- Erin Mulligan Nelson – Chief Marketing Officer
- Stephen Collins – Chief Financial Officer
- Bryan Barksdale – General Counsel
- Kumar Srinivasan – Chief Technology Officer
Venture Capital Funding
Totaling over $19 million, BazaarVoice has experienced three rounds of funding from a variety of venture partners – Austin Ventures, Battery Ventures, Constantin Partners, and First Round Capital.
According to Techcrunch, the company has filed documentation for an IPO and is aiming to raise as much as $86 million in its initial offering.
Headquartered in Austin, TX, but with offices in seven countries spanning three continents, BazaarVoice has established itself as an international brand. Here is a list of office locations along with contact information:
3900 N. Capital of TX Hwy.
Austin, TX 78746
Toll-Free: (866) 522-9227
Phone: (512) 551-6000
Fax: (512) 551-6001
One Lyric Square
London, W6 0NB
Phone: +44 (0)208 080 1100
Fax: +44 (0)207 681 2610
54/56 Avenue Hoche
Phone: +33 1 56 60 54 45
Fax: +33 1 56 60 56 00
Phone: +49 89 24218508
Fax: +49 32 211 0899 0062
Phone: +31 20 301 2169
Fax: +31 20 524 8809
Bazaarvoice Pty Limited
Suite 2, 2A Mona Road
Sydney, NSW 2027
Phone: +61 2 9362 2200
Fax: +61 2 9238 2098
Stureplan 4C, 4th Floor
114 35 Stockholm
Phone: +46 8 463 1083
Fax: +46 8 463 1010