"Emplifi helps us leverage all sorts of community content to help customers at many stages of their journey." — Kevin Ertell, SVP Digital at Sur La Table
The gourmet kitchen retailer takes advantage of many different ways to collect and display helpful customer content.
"Emplifi helps us leverage all sorts of community content to help customers at many stages of their journey."
Online shoppers for gourmet cookware and kitchen items always encounter a uniquely helpful experience on Sur La Table. The retail chain’s website appeals to a culinary community of chefs and cooking enthusiasts with new and engaging social interactions, thanks to innovative products from Emplifi.
"Community is such a key part of the Sur La Table experience where passionate cooks connect with each other, and we knew there was so much more potential to engage our customers."
Here’s a look at how Sur La Table solved four key challenges:
1. Getting the most out of ratings and reviews
Getting more ratings and reviews while keeping content quality high
The solution: Emplifi Ratings & Reviews
At Sur La Table, getting the most out of community content started with increasing the volume and quality of reviews. Sur La Table set out to further optimize their tried-and-true product reviews through optimized collection methods.
With years of experience establishing effective practices for review collection, Emplifi proved to be a key partner.
It didn’t take long for Sur La Table to see the benefits after switching to Emplifi. Among the benefits, Emplifi is effective at soliciting responses from a wider sampling of customers, which resulted in star ratings for products increasing from 4.1 to 4.5 stars.
Emplifi's review solicitation emails to past customers include one-click automatic authentication, a streamlined collection path, an optimized design for mobile, and other touches that make it easy for customers to submit reviews.
"It’s pretty amazing that we’ve tripled the number of reviews we received, pretty much immediately, when we turned on the more scientific email that’s coming from Emplifi and all their research," Ertell says.
2. Engaging its community to answer shopper questions
Delivering fast answers to shopper questions right on the product pages
The solution: Community Q&A
Sur La Table shoppers naturally have questions about many of the products. At the same time, enthusiastic buyers were eager to share their knowledge.
Emplifi Community Q&A puts these advocates to use answering questions from their fellow shoppers. The introduction of customer questions and answers enabled Sur La Table to engage the community’s shoppers and advocates.
When a shopper asks a question, Emplifi's system emails the question to past owners of the product asking them to help a fellow shopper. The response rates are high because only owners of the product are asked, and the request comes from a peer.
"I’ve just been blown away by how willing so many of our customers are to help other customers and to answer the questions," Ertell says. "And they do it so quickly."
90% of questions receive an answer, and the median time from when a shopper submits a question to when they receive their first social answer is under an hour.
Sur La Table team members can provide their own answers and moderate community answers as needed. But it’s no surprise that fellow customers can answer questions with speed and breadth of knowledge that far exceeds staff answers alone. Now, shoppers researching a product can ask questions and, just as importantly, see questions asked by others and the answers provided by customers who already own the product, as well as answers provided by Sur La Table experts.
3. Gathering real-time feedback from buyers
Making sure new items get customer content quickly, rather than lingering with no reviews
The solution: Checkout Comments
For all their benefits, Ratings and Reviews can take weeks to begin accumulating after a product goes on sale. And there’s a demand for more "snackable" snippets of content that can be skimmed quickly
The answer is Emplifi Checkout Comments. This feature asks buyers for a short piece of feedback immediately after purchase. Buyers are prompted with a simple question, "Why did you choose this item?" Many of them are happy to leave a short answer, which is almost always a positive comment that validates the decision to buy the product. Response rates can exceed 30%, exceptionally high for a feedback solicitation.
"It keeps the site much more lively with lots of comments from customers," Ertell says.
On average, Checkout Comments accumulate three times faster than reviews, and begin accumulating the moment a new product goes on sale.
"We have all sorts of content on the site right out of the gate. It’s great for customers to get feedback from others customers so quickly and definitely shows the action different products are getting," Ertell says.
Sur La Table uses these short, positive responses on product pages and in other areas throughout its website. Sur La Table even uses Checkout Comments to produce a stand-alone page, branded as "CartTalk," that shows a pinboard-style feed of real-time comments as they come in. According to Ertell, "This is consistently one of the top converting pages that links of our home page." In addition, it gives the Sur La Table team valuable merchandising insights into the products they sell.
4. Harnessing the power of customer photos and videos
Engaging customers with more photo and video content.
The solution: Visual Reviews
It’s no secret that mobile users have overwhelmingly embraced photo and video content. For these shoppers, Emplifi offers a powerful new way to gather visual content.
Visual Reviews adds a set of user-friendly photo and video features to the customer content experience. On Sur La Table, customers love showing off photos and videos of products they’ve bought — and meals they’ve cooked with Sur La Table products—and shoppers can see the pictures and videos that a company reviews on the product pages, as well as on custom visual galleries and pinboards. It adds a personalized, authentic element that goes miles beyond regular brand photography. And it’s well suited for mobile shoppers, since visual review collection connects directly to smartphone cameras and photo libraries.
"Some people love to take pictures of their food," Ertell says. "It’s a great creative outlet for our cooks and a great way for other cooks and other people shopping with us to see the amazing things you can do with the products."
And finally, adding visual reviews actually increases the number of reviews on the site, because it offers another way for customers to share content. Emplifi’s unique visual-first submission flow can generate an increase in photo submissions of up to 400%.
The bottom line
With Emplifi, Sur La Table has been able to reach customers in even more ways, and deliver an even more engaging and illuminating shopping experience. With Ratings & Reviews, Community Q&A, Checkout Comments, and Visual Reviews all working together, Sur La Table was able to offer a far richer experience.
"We are developing an even deeper relationship with our community, and helping new shoppers learn more about what we have to offer," Ertell says. "It’s positive for everyone, from the repeat customer leaving reviews and answering questions about cooking, to the person visiting our site for the first time."