May 2, 2019 by Rahul Chadha
TurnTo Networks has announced the release of its new SpeedFlex™ widget architecture, supporting its full Customer-Generated Content suite of Ratings & Reviews, Community Q&A, Visual Reviews™, and Checkout Comments™. SpeedFlex™ combines the lightest, fastest-loading widget components with a server-side customization model that gives full control over layout and functionality as well as look and feel.
With SpeedFlex™, eCommerce sites no longer face a trade-off between a slow-loading but easy widget implementation, or a fast-loading but time consuming API project. Now, brands and retailers can have the best of both approaches: customer experiences that are uniquely tailored to their brand and product categories, a quick implementation with minimal effort, and fast page loads that improve conversion rates and deliver meaningful search engine optimization (SEO).
An architecture designed for speed
Page load speed is an important factor for conversion rates and for SEO. Making web pages load faster can reduce abandonment rates by 20%. And with its recent “Speed Update,” Google’s search ranking algorithm now privileges fast loading pages, especially on mobile.
Since product reviews, Q&A, and customer-generated photos are some of the heaviest components on eCommerce sites, the speed improvements provided by SpeedFlex™ can make a significant difference to overall site performance.
Unique customer experiences without API work
SpeedFlex™ enables online stores to easily tailor not only look-and-feel but also layout and even functionality without resorting to time-consuming API work. With TurnTo’s unique new architecture, configurations of all aspects of design and information architecture are composed server-side and dynamically loaded to the production environment. Configurable breakpoints ensure optimized display on all device types from a single theme definition. With this approach:
- Changes made to the configuration appear immediately on the site without the need to edit code on the page itself
- A single page type can support multiple design theme variants for A/B testing
- The functions and experience provided to the shopper can vary depending on the category of the product
Bliss sees dramatic performance improvements
When skincare brand Bliss switched to TurnTo and implemented SpeedFlex™ on www.blissworld.com, the file size and load time of their product reviews components decreased to less than half of what they were before.
“We’ve been highly satisfied with our switch to TurnTo,” said Karilyn Anderson, VP of Digital at Bliss. “With TurnTo’s SpeedFlex™ architecture, we were able to easily achieve a highly customized layout and look exactly tailored for our brand, while at the same time significantly improving our site performance.”
“SpeedFlex™ is not only the highest-performance widget platform for enterprise-scale eCommerce sites today, it’s the foundation for our vision of bespoke customer experiences, going forward,” said George Eberstadt, TurnTo’s Founder and CEO, said. “In today’s competitive world, one-size-fits-all is not a winning strategy; brands and stores have to differentiate and deliver unique, compelling experiences. SpeedFlex™ enables the rapid innovation that leads to real business advantage for our customers.”
Want to find out more about how TurnTo can help your business?
April 24, 2019 by Rahul Chadha
Bob’s Red Mill Natural Foods was founded in 1978 by Bob Moore and his wife Charlee, who turned their love of healthy foods and whole grains into a business with the goal of making high-quality natural and organic foods available to as many people as possible.
Today, Bob’s Red Mill is an employee-owned company with globally distributed products and a deeply passionate following—many of the company’s customers rely on it to provide quality gluten-free products due to their sensitivities or allergies.
We spoke with Kevin Irish, Digital Marketing Manager for Bob’s Red Mill, about how the company’s new Customer-Generated Content strategy helped to capture the passion of its most ardent customers for some powerful word-of-mouth marketing.
What was the problem Bob’s Red Mill faced before you revamped your Customer-Generated Content approach?
When I started, Bob’s Red Mill sent me to several food trade shows where thousands of attendees would come to our booth. At every single show a grown person would break down in tears while telling me their story. Bob’s Red Mill had made their life—or the life of someone they loved—manageable for the first time, mostly because they could finally deal with a food allergy.
Then I looked at our website, and none of that emotion was present. None. That was my guiding hypothesis for improving our Customer-Generated Content. If we gave our customers a platform to voice their love for us and our products, we would get lots of good content. And with TurnTo’s platform, I turned out to be right.
How did TurnTo’s products help the company?
Before TurnTo, all we had was a “write a review” button—and a poor user experience for those that clicked on it. There was no review solicitation. I crunched the numbers and found out we were getting about 1.3 pieces of Customer-Generated Content per day. After we implemented TurnTo’s Ratings & Reviews and other products, that jumped to more than 115 submissions per day.
Bob’s Red Mill almost didn’t turn on TurnTo’s Checkout Comments at launch, correct?
Yes, that’s true. One of TurnTo’s customer success reps highly recommended that we include Checkout Comments in our implementation, which was the right call. It’s been a huge success for us, and a feature we never would have thought of ourselves.
Basically, Checkout Comments pops up on an order confirmation page and asks, “Why did you choose this?” We’re getting content gold from that, so much so that we rebuilt part of our website around it to include a visual pinboard of products that get responses.
We use a slightly customized API from TurnTo that lets us only show comments we think are worth displaying. It’s just pages and pages of comments raving about our products, all based on that one simple question at checkout.
Recipes are also a huge draw for the Bob’s Red Mill website, right?
Yes, about one-third of our traffic is to our recipe section. About 18 months ago a bug in the recipe section of our website took our entire site down. When we brought the site back online we completely remade the recipe platform. A large part of that was to integrate TurnTo’s reviews and Community Q&A into the recipes.
On our old recipe platform users were leaving reviews for recipes that were actually questions. Things like, “Can I use almond milk instead of cow’s milk?” We weren’t really serving our customers’ needs.
With TurnTo’s Community Q&A customers didn’t need to leave a question in a review, they could just ask our recipe pros what would work. We soft-launched the feature without telling anybody and our first organic question came in 30 minutes later. We had 260 questions in the first month.
TurnTo even went back to the old questions that customers left in reviews and paired them with answers. Then they imported that content into the new Community Q&A feature so we wouldn’t lose all of that historical information.
Anything else to add?
I’ve worked with other “top players” for Customer-Generated Content collection in the past and was always really disappointed. They nickel and dimed us, lacked support and weren’t open to any changes to personalize or customize their platforms.
TurnTo met all of those basic needs and then offered us even more features. We love how much of the platform is open via API, and how well documented it is. It’s been a perfect partnership.
To learn more about how TurnTo helped Bob’s Red Mill improve their Customer-Generated Content strategy, see our recent case study with the company. You can also watch a presentation Kevin Irish gave on the benefits of TurnTo at Shop.org 2018.
Want to find out how TurnTo can help you?
April 4, 2019 by Rahul Chadha
Is your eCommerce site failing to give your shoppers all of the information they want? Some recent data from Salsify1 suggests that might be the case.
In a survey of 1,000 US adults, Salsify discovered that nearly 70% of respondents abandoned a product detail page (PDP) because it didn’t offer enough product detail or other information.
To put those survey results in context: more people left a product page because they wanted more information than those that left because prices were too high, or because they were concerned about potentially buying a fake product.
Nearly 70% of respondents abandoned a product detail page (PDP) because it didn’t offer enough product detail or other information.
eCommerce sites that fail to do the simple work of including enough product information on their PDPs are basically leaving money on the table.
But the problem is also easily fixable. Here are some key takeaways from the report that eCommerce companies should take to heart:
1. The More Reviews, the Better
112 is the magic number. No, that’s not a typo. It’s the average number of reviews that shoppers want to see when they’re looking at a product online, according to Salsify. And that figure was even higher among younger demographic groups.
On average, shoppers ages 25- to 34-years old wanted to see 159 reviews per product; that figure jumped to an average of 203 reviews per product among those ages 18 to 24.
In short, your customers want reviews. Lots of them. Why? Because a high review count is social proof that a product is good, and that can alleviate shoppers’ hesitation about pulling the trigger on a purchase.
On average, shoppers want to see 112 reviews for each product
“Consumers are really looking for that extra degree of validation, and it’s not even necessarily the star rating,” Andrew Weber, Data Insights Manager at Salsify, told Retail TouchPoints in an interview. “Those ratings are pretty similar between the top performers and poor performers. The difference is the average review count.” 2
2. Images Are Also in High Demand
The desire for more content extends beyond just five-star ratings and written reviews. Customers want to see more visual content like photos and videos on the product page than they did just a few years ago. In fact, Salsify found that shoppers expect a baseline of six images for each product. But even top-selling items in the image-focused grocery and electronics verticals only had an average of four.
The same went for videos; shoppers indicated they wanted, on average, a minimum of two per product page. And some age groups wanted as many as four to five videos for each product.
3. Customers Trust Each Other
It’s not just numbers that matter—customers also want to see highly relevant reviews on product pages. Salsify found that 30% of respondents said it was a good sign that a brand or retailer understood them when product reviews came from people similar to them.
Today’s shoppers place a tremendous amount of faith in one another to share authentic and honest feedback about online goods. Product ratings and reviews written in a conversational tone resonate better with shoppers, rather than marketing copy, which might read as inauthentic.
4. Shoppers Have Questions—Give Them Answers
Unfortunately for online shoppers, there’s usually no sales associate standing by to respond to questions. But your customers still want answers.
In fact, Salsify found that most shoppers wanted answers for anywhere from eight to 13 questions about a particular product to appear right on the product detail page.
“One option is to put in more textual descriptions that reveal what a specific product feature actually does, or have common Q&A questions literally right on the product page that can be interactively displayed,” Weber said in his interview with Retail TouchPoints.
Salsify also noted that commonly asked questions sometimes reveal shortcomings in product descriptions. Brands and retailers can respond to this valuable feedback by updating their product detail pages.
How TurnTo Can Help
Salsify’s research attests to the need for eCommerce sites to provide their customers with more written reviews, better visual content, and answers to their questions. TurnTo’s industry-leading innovations can help with that:
- More reviews – Our Ratings & Review product is designed to increase review collection rates right off the bat. We do that with features like Inbox Submission, which lets customers submit reviews directly from the body of an email, increasing content collection rates by as much as 200%. Our review solicitations are optimized for mobile, so it’s really easy for customers to submit content on their smartphones. All of that adds up to more Ratings & Reviews for your products.
- Better Visual Content –TurnTo’s Visual Reviews™ product is the easiest way for eCommerce sites to collect even more photos and videos. Our review collection flow is designed to collect photos and videos first from smartphone users—and submit reviews without any typing. These customer-created images can help improve sales at every step of the customer journey.
- Give Shoppers Answers – With our Community Q&A product you can supply answers to customer questions right on the product page. Believe it or not, most customers are happy to share their knowledge—we’ve found that about 90% of questions sent to previous shoppers get answers. But Community Q&A can also draw on information from places like existing product descriptions, previously asked questions, and even a frequently asked questions (FAQ) page to deliver near-instant responses to questions.
Want to learn more?
1 5 New Rules to Tackle Shoppers’ Rising Expectations of Your Brand; Salsify, March 2019
2 Study: 69% of Shoppers Leave a Site if Product Info is Subpar; Retail TouchPoints, March 2019
February 20, 2019 by Rahul Chadha
Imagine this: You see a friend with a pair of sweet-looking Yeezys, snap a pic with your phone and are seamlessly delivered to a product page featuring the exact same pair of shoes. Too pricey or not your size? The same page also shows visually similar items.
That’s the power of visual search. It can help shoppers zero in on a specific product amid a sea of SKUs. It requires no typing, streamlining the path to purchase. It can help bridge the customer experience gap between the physical and digital worlds. And it’s already here.
“A lot of the future of search is going to be about pictures, not keywords,” -Ben Silbermann, CEO, Pinterest1
Tech and ecommerce giants are already preparing for a sea change in how search queries will work as users migrate away from text-based searches and towards visual and voice. Amazon, Google, Alibaba, Microsoft, Facebook, eBay, Pinterest—all now have their own visual search engines.
The Inflection Point is Approaching
While the groundwork for visual search is currently being laid, it hasn’t reached mainstream adoption just yet. A recent eMarketer/Bizrate survey, for example, found that only 10% of shoppers had ever used visual search.2
But there are some serious signs that customer behavior is changing. One year after rolling out its visual search engine, Pinterest reported that users conducted about 600 million visual searches a month on its platform, a year-over-year increase of 140%.3 And personalization service provider RichRelevance found that 52% of shoppers wanted to see similar items after taking a picture of a product they liked.4
Other research underscores the trend of visual media displacing text among customers. A study from Intent Lab found that 59% of online shoppers thought visual information about products was more important than text.5
That figure was even higher among certain product verticals, with more than eight in 10 furniture and clothing shoppers placing more importance on visuals than the written word.
TurnTo Can Bolster Your Visual Content Strategy
Clearly, the importance of visual media is only set to grow, especially as visual search becomes more common. TurnTo’s Visual Reviews™ are designed to make gathering photos and videos for your product page simple and easy, and are fully indexable by search engines.
Our visual-first collection flow means that customers responding to a review submission request on a mobile device can be asked to share a photo of their purchase before doing anything else. And our use of advanced logic means we can nail the timing of the request, helping to drive up collection rates.
TurnTo’s highly configurable widgets also give brands and retailers granular control over how consumer-generated visual content is displayed. That means that for companies in verticals where photos and videos are especially important to shoppers, Visual Reviews™ can be prominently displayed on product detail pages.
Want to learn more about Visual Reviews™?
2Visual Search is Poised for Mainstream Adoption; eMarketer, January 2019
3Celebrating one year of Pinterest Lens; Pinterest, February 2018
4RichRelevance Study Shows Americans are Skeptical of Voice-Assisted Shopping; RichRelevance, June 2018
5Visual Search Wins Over Text as Consumers’ Most Trusted Information Source; Intent Lab, February 2019
March 9, 2016 by John Swords
The Risks of Image Harvesting
Recently the online retailing industry took some heat over the practice of harvesting images from social media. The New York Times highlighted some especially egregious cases in which retail brands re-published Instagram photos of children against the expectations of their parents.
A variety of experts chimed in with conflicting advice. Does using a brand’s hashtag in a photo caption count as giving consent for the brand to post the picture? The article portrays an industry still figuring out where the lines are, with best practices still unsettled.
What’s clear is that “image harvesting” is developing a risky reputation. When retailers pull pictures off social media and place them in a merchandising context, such as a product page or a gallery on a brand’s website, customers sometimes feel blindsided. Doing it right means getting each customer’s permission individually, and making sure customers understand what they’re consenting to.
That all adds up to a high-effort process. Retailers win when customers share pictures of products they love, but shouldn’t there be a better way to get them?
Enter Visual Reviews
TurnTo is leading the way in a new product that offers a clear-cut path to collect customer images that’s beneficial to both the customer and the retailer. Rather than pulling images from customers’ personal social media feeds, Visual Reviews gives the customers a way to submit product photos and videos directly to the store where they bought the item or to the brand that manufactured it.
TurnTo Visual Reviews adds a rich layer of visual information to fashion, beauty, and home brands, where a picture can say more than a written review ever could. It also works well for hobby and craft retailers, where buyers are eager to share things they’ve made with the products they’ve bought. Whatever the category, it provides a worry-free source of great content for TurnTo clients.
December 16, 2015 by George Eberstadt
Each year at this time, CIO Review Magazine picks 20 technology solutions for the retail business that stood out during the previous year. TurnTo was selected as one of them in their just-published 2015 list. Here’s a link to their official citation. Their explanation did a very nice job summarizing the changes that are taking place in shopper behavior and the resulting challenges and opportunities for online sellers. Reprinting it here:
Product ratings and reviews have been a staple of eCommerce since Amazon introduced them in the mid-90s. But the basic model hasn’t evolved much, while the online environment has changed dramatically. Phones have passed computers as the primary means through which many people access the internet. Visual content has become far more important in the online product discovery and selection process. Social media has trained people to value 2-way interactivity over passive content consumption. Messaging has taught people to prefer their text shorter and shorter.
Set against this backdrop is New York-based TurnTo Networks, the fastest-growing provider of so-called “customer- generated content” (CGC) tools for top eCommerce businesses and brands. TurnTo’s mission has been to update the basic ideas of traditional ratings and reviews to address the changes in the ways people shop online and how they create and use CGC in the process. To accomplish this, TurnTo has developed an innovative suite of customer-content applications for eCommerce built around this new environment: mobile-first, highly visual, 2-way interactive, and short-form text.
TurnTo’s line-up includes an up-to-date take on traditional Ratings and Reviews, a Community Q&A product that enables shoppers to get their product questions answered by peers who already own the items, a “micro-review” gathered at the point of purchase called a Checkout Comment, and a Visual Reviews product built around the reality that many people would rather use their phones to take pictures and video than to fill in forms and type. Together, these products fulfill the basic promise of customer ratings and reviews while taking the value delivered by customer content to a new level
Not only do these new and updated tools better meet the needs of today’s shopper, they also help online sellers address important challenges that traditional ratings and reviews don’t solve well. For example, stores with “fast-turn” catalogs, such as fashion, often have trouble building up customer reviews before items go out of stock or out of season. But TurnTo’s Checkout Comments start generating content from the first moment an item is available for sale. Or consider highly complex products like cameras and electronics. It’s impossible for reviews or standard product information to anticipate all the questions a shopper might have before purchasing. For that, Community Q&A is an effective way to quickly get prospective buyers the information they need. Or how about the whole category of do-it-yourself–from home improvement to cooking to crafts? Stores often want to call attention to the results of the products they sell–the projects made with their tools and supplies. Text reviews of product features can never highlight these outcomes the way proud photos taken by real customers can.
“Traditional ratings and reviews remain very important, and it’s crucial for stores and brands to use a platform that collects the greatest volume while ensuring authenticity,” says George Eberstadt, CEO, TurnTo Networks. “But it’s no longer enough to stop there. Customer behavior has moved on, which has created great opportunities for sellers to use these new types of customer-content to create better experiences for shoppers while addressing some of their most important merchandising challenges.”