We are dealing with an insurgency among consumers. No longer do they trust marketing or advertising messages, but, instead, turn to others like themselves for advice and opinion on product purchases. In today’s socially-infused marketplace, to suggest that control rests with the consumer is an understatement.
According to a research report (PDF) from the e-tailing group, when asked which social media tools have the greatest impact on buying behavior, customer reviews topped the list. The report went on to say that, when compared to 2007, shoppers are “reading more customer reviews to be confident judging a product, with people reading 8 or more up 77% over 2007.”
Enter Power Reviews, a social commerce platform that offers retailers the opportunity to place a product review solution directly on their website. With over 1000 clients – including such major brands as Staples, Drugstore.com, Room & Board, REI, ESPN, Neutrogena, Quicksilver, and Jockey – it the most widely used customer ratings platform in the world. Founded in 2005, the company has deployed its SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) platform on more than 5,500 websites across 13 languages in 21 countries. To date, more than 23 million customer reviews have been written.
Power Reviews’ Products
PowerReviews offers a number of social commerce solutions including: Customer Reviews, Customer Q&A (which feature SEO drivers), Facebook-powered social enhancements, Twitter/LinkedIn/Google+ Social Enhancements, and a Social Analytics/Reporting.
The company’s premier product is its customer review engine, which goes beyond stars and comments to include more detailed consumer insight. For example, customers can list pros, cons and best uses of the product, as well as make a determination about whether they would recommend it to a friend. A new feature enables reviewers to add images or video highlighting their use of the product. To increase relevance, the platform allows customers to cite lifestyle choices, as well.
With its In-Line SEO component, the platform uses customer reviews and optimizes them for Google search to draw shoppers directly to product pages, thereby increasing the likelihood of traffic from search. Not only that, Power Reviews Answerbox Q&A enables shoppers to get answers from like-minded buyers, resulting in reduced customer support costs to the retailer.
Relationship to Social Commerce
It can be argued that customer ratings and reviews epitomize what social commerce is all about – peer-to-peer sharing of information from one consumer to another. Power Reviews takes this “flat earth” philosophy seriously and has baked it into every aspect of the platform, including an extension of its presence into what many would say is the very epicenter of social commerce, Facebook.
Building on its core competency of ratings and reviews, Power Reviews launched two new products in September 2011 that tie directly into the social network, Facebook Discovery and Facebook Community:
Facebook Discovery includes the following features:
- Follow a Reviewer: Consumers can choose to follow a reviewer, having future reviews published to their Facebook newsfeed.
- Follow a Product: Consumers can follow a product of interest by having future reviews for that product published to their Facebook newsfeed.
- Follow a Category: Consumers opt in to hear about new and trending products in a particular category via a daily product review published to their Facebook newsfeed.
- Ask friends for advice: Consumers can ask their friends which product to buy by posting a question or poll to their Facebook wall.
Facebook Community include the following features:
- Facebook Profiles: Consumers can link their Facebook profile to their reviews creating a rich onsite profile. This increases the credibility of their reviews for other shoppers.
- Automated Badging: Allows brands and retailers to automatically reward their best reviewers with custom badges based on the company’s own criteria such as total number of reviews, helpful votes or duration as a customer.
- Leaderboard: Recognizes the Top 100 reviewers for a brand or retailer and allows shoppers considering a purchase to identify and ask questions of those reviewers, and opt in to follow their future reviews.
- Ask a Reviewer: Enables consumers to engage with reviewers by asking product-related questions.
In terms of ROI, Power Reviews estimates that each review from a company’s website that is shared on Facebook is worth $15.72 in sales value. 57% of reviews written by Facebook members are shared to their News Feed and 70% of all reviews shared to Facebook get a “Like” or a comment of some kind.
Power Reviews’ emphasis on social media engagement takes one more tangent — social sharing. Through the use of the Facebook “Like,”, Twitter, and Google +1 buttons, its Social Share component enables customers with the ability to push product endorsements to their friends and followers.
Power Reviews’ Competitors/UVP
Power Reviews most direct competitors are other rating and review platforms such as BazaarVoice, RateViews and Wize. However, since social commerce funding tends to all come out of the same bucket, it could be argued that other social commerce platforms, including those we have covered in previous reviews – Gilt Groupe, Groupon, Shopkick and others – are also competitors.
At the core of PowerReviews solution are the number #1 & 2 social tools with the greatest impact on sales – customer reviews and Q&A. Its primary goal is to get past the hoopla that surrounds much of social media by turning consumer-driven conversations into sales. With that in mind, the company cites several advantages to using its platform:
- Increased Conversion – Power Reviews client Netshop reported a 26% same-product sales increase after reaching 3-5 reviews per product.
- Increased Search Traffic and Sales – Diapers.com saw a 48.8% increase in search traffic and 33.2% increase in search-related sales by using the product.
- Increased Average Order Value – Mountain Gear experienced up to 85% higher AOV for products that contained customer reviews.
- Decreased Product Returns – GSI Partner saw 27% lower product return rates for products with two or more reviews.
Cost to Retailers
The company’s pricing model is tiered and is based upon the client’s annual revenue. Since its inception, Power Reviews has grown from a SME player to managing reviews for some of the world’s largest retail brands, and pricing has been adjusted accordingly. Enterprise solutions starts at $1500 per month, according to the company, though the average is typically around $3,000.
Power Reviews has received several rounds of funding totaling $37.3 million from such firms as Menlo Ventures, Draper Richards, Tenaya Capital and Lehman Brothers.
- Pehr Luedtke, CEO
- Andy Chen, Founder & VP, Strategic Partnerships
- Keith Adams, CFO
- Jim Morris, CTO
- Cathy Halligan, SVP, Sales & Marketing
- Nadim Hossain, VP, Marketing
- Matt Parsons, VP, Client Success
The company is headquartered in San Francisco, but has offices in London, as well.
22 4th Street, 6th Floor
San Francisco, CA 94103
4th Floor, Victoria Central
111 Buckingham Palace Road
London SW1W 0SR
+44 (0)207 653 8527