Q&A: Lamps Plus exec sheds light on user-generated content

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Q&A: Lamps Plus exec sheds light on user-generated content

By Deena M. Amato-McCoy - 03/07/2018
Lamps Plus is putting a new spin on customer-generated content to give shoppers more transparency into its merchandise.

The specialty lamps retailer is always looking for new ways to step up the digital content that supports the 65,000 products it sells online. The efforts run the gamut from improving product descriptions to featuring more robust graphics and user interfaces. Its newest initiatives center on user-generated content (UGC).

Like many companies, Lamps Plus is no stranger to posting customer reviews. More recently, however the retailer has been engaging shoppers with questions and answers (Q&A), visual reviews, and a “checkout chatter” section to drive purchases.

Lamps Plus’ senior VP of Internet business and marketing, Angela Hsu, shared her thoughts about the initiative with Chain Store Age.

CSA: Why has UGC become so important for online customer engagement?
AH: Customers want authentic insight into merchandise. By using crowdsourced answers from existing customers, we can answer questions quickly, and provide a different perspective that we may not have considered. We also noticed that when a question is answered within 24 hours, customers are more likely to buy.

These factors pushed us to provide an easier method for customers to contribute content, but didn’t want to make UGC entries too complex or time-consuming.

We regularly run experiments on copy, graphics and user interfaces on our desktop and mobile sites. This process, in addition to refining our solicitation communications, has helped our UGC to dramatically grow.

CSA: What consumer-created content do you feature now?
AH: We have encouraged customer reviews for years, but these are just one small piece of a growing UGC library. During 2017, we focused more on expanding UGC to other areas of our site.

One new tool is our Q&A content. Every single product page on our site has a Q&A section where customers can submit questions about products or view previously asked questions. Incoming queries are answered by our customer support team or previous customers.

But the tool helps us in two ways. First, customers are more likely to purchase within 24 hours when their submitted questions are answered quickly, or when they review similar questions that other customers have previously asked.

Meanwhile, the high volume of questions reveal different patterns across categories. We use these patterns to enhance our product descriptions and create additional product images and videos.

Each month, our Q&A produces an average of 3,500 questions and 5,300 answers. Overall, we average a return of 1.5 answers per question.

CSA: You also added visual reviews. Tell us about them.
AH: We wanted more than just text reviews. Lighting creates a mood in a room and photos can capture that. Visual reviews enable customers to provide pictures of our products in their rooms and spaces within their reviews, a method that helps users better understand the fit and feel of our lighting and home furnishings.

CSA; What are checkout comments?
AH: When a customer purchases a product, we invite them to briefly share with us why they purchased the product on the order confirmation page. Then we position these comments for other customers to view.

They differ from reviews because customers are sharing their reasons for making a purchase before actually receiving the product. Customers also reveal different use cases they are considering for the products in their home. This often helps other customers feel more comfortable about the merchandise, and how it will look or work in a specific room.

CSA: What kind of results have the new UGC delivered?
AH: Our content volume has grown substantially. We feature an average of 1,500 reviews per month, all with an average of 4.5 out of 5 product ratings.

Customers now have a lot more information to better understand products they are researching, and as a result, we’re seeing conversion increases. As we continue using user feedback to enhance our product copy and images, the number of questions submitted per month is decreasing. Ultimately, with more information provided for product copy and customer reviews, customers can make more informed decisions, and hopefully there will be a reduction in the number of returns.

CSA: What is the next step in your UGC strategy?
AH: We plan to make it easier for customers to contribute UGC, in particular, when sharing merchandise images and videos. We also plan to promote #myLampsPlus online and in-store to encourage users to submit more visual content on our social media channels.

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