The BIG, commerce Podcast

Harnessing the power of Reviews and Loyalty programs in e-commerce, with Mike Berardo from Stamped

September 26, 2023 Calashock Commerce
The BIG, commerce Podcast
Harnessing the power of Reviews and Loyalty programs in e-commerce, with Mike Berardo from Stamped
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Have you ever stopped to ponder the power of reviews and customer loyalty in the world of e-commerce? Picture this episode as a golden ticket, unlocking the secrets of harnessing these factors, especially in a landscape where customer acquisition costs are spiralling upwards.

As our spotlight guest, Mike Barardo, CEO of Stamped.io, takes us through his journey of building the North American team and expanding their product catalogue, you'll experience firsthand the surprising benefits of negative reviews, the influence of Generative AI on customer trust, and the wealth of insights NPS campaigns can furnish.

Brace yourselves as we venture into the intriguing world of loyalty programs and VIP tiers, sifting through creative retention strategies. Imagine standing out as a brand, dazzling your customers with unique experiences, and striking that elusive balance between over-giving and just right.

With Stamped.io at the helm, enabling these customer experiences, you'll uncover how enticing loyalty programs can be a game-changer, and the role they play in convincing potential customers to take that leap of faith and make their first purchase.

Lastly, we navigate the intriguing landscape of user-generated content, unveiling its might to boost conversion rates on e-commerce sites. Feel the thrill as we share strategies for increasing review collection volume, like retouching email subject lines and copy, and employing multiple channels. Discover the potential pitfalls of merging reviews from diverse regions and how negative reviews can work in your favour, building trust. Prepare to be amazed as we reveal how data can amplify customer feedback, bolster customer loyalty, and escalate lifetime value. Join us for this enlightening journey and revolutionise your e-commerce game.


Speaker 2:

Hi, welcome to the Big Commerce Podcast. Hello, welcome to a brand new episode of the Big Commerce Podcast. I'm your co-host, luigi, and in today's episode I'm joined by Mike Barardo, ceo of Stampedio. Stamped is a reviews and loyalty platform and in the episode we learn about the suite of products stamped off as its customers. The importance of reviews and loyalty is retention programs due to the cost of acquiring customers increasing, how negative reviews and NPS campaigns can help improve your products and service, and the effect Generative AI will have on customers' trust of e-commerce websites. Enjoy the episode. Hi, mike, welcome to the podcast.

Speaker 1:

Awesome. Thanks for having me.

Speaker 2:

How are?

Speaker 1:

you Doing well thanks.

Speaker 2:

Good. So you're from Stamped, one of our partners based in New York.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, based in New York.

Speaker 2:

Why don't you tell us a little bit about yourself first and then a bit about Stamped?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, so a little bit about me. I've been with Stamped for about two years. Prior to that I spent most of my career in startups in the e-commerce space, was actually on the D2C side of things, previously at Travel Goods D2C brand called away for four years. It kind of got my exposure to, I would say, wave 1 or Wave 2 of the kind of D2C trend there and that was a big impetus for me wanting to switch over to more of the tech side of Stamped. In terms of Stamped itself, company was started in 2016,. Has a pretty typical founding story, I would say, of a merchant who was frustrated with what was available to him. He was based in Singapore and the reviews front in particular, I think just wasn't satisfied with what was out there or felt it was too expensive for the functionality and decided to kind of build his own. And then in the intervening years since that catalog has expanded to user-generated content, loyalty and we're kind of continuing to evolve it today.

Speaker 2:

So in some respects, if you've got a problem, try and solve it Totally, building out. Yeah, how are you enjoying your role as CEO of Stamped?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, it's been great it's been, I mean. So I mentioned there that the company was founded in Singapore, and so one of the most interesting parts of my two years here has been we've really built it was a kind of small team when I first joined. We've really built out the team in North America in particular Most of our teams in Canada between Toronto and Vancouver, and so it's just been really fun to build out a team and a really exciting time for the space, kind of coming out of the tail end of COVID and now kind of into, I guess sort of back to normal. I would say so it's been a ton of fun and really excited about kind of the product opportunity in front of us too. So yeah, it's been a blast.

Speaker 2:

I think timing-wise it's worked quite well as well, because the cost of acquisition for new clients is going up. So everyone's kind of talking about retention strategies and how do we keep customers coming back? And obviously your product just slots right in.

Speaker 1:

Totally. Yeah, I hinted at this before, but one of the things that I took from my experience on the DTC side of things out of way was I think those early waves of direct consumer were like a lot of brands whether it be away or Casper, others you'd be familiar with, who were really predicated on leveraging at the time was a somewhat new form of targeted advertising for building these DTC businesses and I think it's become clearer over time that focusing further down funnel not at the expense of advertising, but I think focusing further down funnel on the conversion, repeat, purchase, lifetime value stages of things is really really important and that's kind of the key thing we're trying to do at Stamps. So to your point, I think one of our best value props to merchants is you need these pieces to complement what you're doing on the advertising side to build a more sustainable, more profitable business, and that's really resonated at both that conversion and that repeat stage. I would say.

Speaker 2:

Yeah.

Speaker 1:

I mean there's.

Speaker 2:

Obviously, your product has kind of evolved over time and added in some additional functionality from where it started. But, like you said, it's all about that trust and I think, as the sector has become more or each individual, I guess individual sector has become more competitive and there's a lot more merchants out there. It's the merchants that invest in building trust with their existing customers, but also in their image and their portrayal of trust and looking after their existing and rewarding the loyalty of their existing customers that really start to stand out. Because I see that kind of from my perspective when I'm shopping. You've got so much choice. Now how do you cut through that noise? How do you stand out from the competition? Because you've spoken about value proposition from your perspective and it's the same with merchants, especially when you're selling. D2c is slightly different, but if you look at like B2B or B2C predominantly commoditized products how do you stand out? And with costs going up, you can't always compete on price and some merchants don't want to because it's just a race to the bottom.

Speaker 1:

Totally yeah. Actually, on the point of competing on price, I think that the real selling point of the loyalty product that we pitched to a lot of merchants is that obviously many people think about that as a way to kind of juice the repeat part of your business, but we actually see really impressive results in terms of just convincing someone to purchase for the first time because you have that loyalty program, and in many cases I think merchants even feel that they don't have to offer as much on that first purchase discount If they're able to sell someone on all the benefits they're going to get as an ongoing customer, kind of post first purchase from that loyalty program. So to your point, like it's a great trust builder. I think a lot of brands have come to realize over the last few years with the choice that you were referring to, that you can't take for granted that getting someone in the door for the first time and then hitting them with those marketing emails or those sale emails over the course of the next couple of years is going to drive repeat when they have so many options and also are just busy as consumers, and so I think having some proposition for them to continue purchasing with your brand, whether that be rewards, whether that be something like status or what we call VIP tiers within our loyalty product.

Speaker 1:

It's extremely important and we almost always see that in the results, with increased repeat rates, increased repeat average order values and all of that.

Speaker 1:

And for a lot of these brands, when they think about like the key metric I hear most of them talk about is MER or marketing efficiency ratio, and when they're looking at just how much revenue are we driving versus the ad dollars we're putting in, I think the thing we always tell them is, yeah, you can continue to focus on making your ads or that acquisition funnel more attractive, but the real way to drive that number in the direction you why is to improve the back end of that, which is, what is your lifetime value, what is your repeat rate from these customers. And so I do think for us that, like I would say, in 2023, even in a world where maybe the consumer market has flattened out from where it was in COVID or gotten back to normal, demand for the loyalty products continues to look almost like the COVID period because of exactly what you were saying, which is like the acquisition market has still been kind of up and down to a degree, I would say.

Speaker 1:

So it's been a really interesting time to be in that space.

Speaker 2:

We're getting inquiries from B2C merchants that they're kind of very omnipresent, so they got offline and online to be able to consolidate that client retention strategy.

Speaker 2:

So if someone's buying online they can redeem their points offline and vice versa, offers that are online that they're offline. Because fundamentally that customer, if you've got an online and an offline presence, has one relationship with you. They don't differentiate between online, offline, app, whatever. They want to just know that if they're dealing with that brand they're going to get a unified service or same types of service, same types of benefits. It's not going to inconvenience them that they can only buy online to get that offer or they can only return online if they bought online and so on. And so it kind of makes sense that if you're trying to maintain or trying to kind of retain that customer, that you look at ways that, like you say, with the market efficiency, make those marketing ads go further. Because we've got merchants one recently who did free delivery, I think for four or six weeks, and basically the subsidies that they put within the subsidiser shipping came out of their marketing budget because it was a way of kind of retaining that client and trying to elevate the lifetime value.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I think the point you made actually on OmniChannel just to go back to that for a second is really really interesting To my experience.

Speaker 1:

In a way, we had, by the time I left, like 12 or 13 first party retail locations and we didn't have a loyalty program at the time, but we just had, like most brands, like a lot of difficulty managing those on two different systems and like you've got your retail POS, you've got your whatever e-commerce software you're using, it feels to the customer as a result like a totally disjointed experience, which is not what the customer expects to your point.

Speaker 1:

So this is, I think, one of the biggest, I would say one of the main areas that we've seen demand on the loyalty product. We've started to dip our toe into better supporting kind of point of sale systems on the retail side. But I think it's an area we want to go a lot deeper on because it is something that a lot of these brands are demanding and also, honestly, not even just their own channels. It's also like how do we retain one consistent relationship with the customer even if they buy our product on a non-owned channel like Amazon or Walmart or targetcom or whatever? So it's super interesting for us thinking about, like, how can we help bridge some of those channels for these brands and that's, honestly, loyalty and reviews?

Speaker 2:

actually, you spoke about VIP kind of programs, and that's something that I really advocate because it's a way of kind of tearing your customers, making them feel special.

Speaker 2:

It's a bit of a gated kind of community as well, because you've got to have achieved a certain type of status. We've seen it, obviously, with most visibly with like airlines the more times you fly, the higher up the tiers you go. But I think that's such a quick win because if you've got the ability to segment your customers and say, right, you've got to spend X amount to qualify for kind of VIP status. How does your platform then help a merchant to achieve that without them having to jump through so many hoops?

Speaker 1:

Totally yes. This is one of the areas I'm most excited about and I think there's the most opportunity in our product. The way that these tiers work today is pretty simple. A brand will typically have like the regular loyalty program, right? So they might have a few ways that you can earn points in that program. Maybe you get one point per dollar spent when you make a purchase. You might get additional points for following the brand on Instagram or subscribing to their newsletter or whatever it might be, and then they'll have a set of kind of open to everyone type redemption rules, which is, if you get 100 points, you can redeem that for a 10% discount on your next order, or you can redeem for a free product with your next order over $50. We've got a ton of flexibility in there.

Speaker 1:

What the VIP tiers do out of the box today is they allow you to offer special perks to people that enter that VIP tier. Right, so you might have a tier that someone has to spend $500 over the course of their time with the brand and then they would get into, like your bronze tier, let's say, and then you've got a silver and a gold tier Within that tier. Stamp would enable you to offer additional perks right. So now, maybe because you're in that tier, you get two points per dollar spent instead of one, so you're earning more as you go. You get access to special perks. You might even get access to certain types of products for free that are only available to that VIP tier.

Speaker 1:

But the thing that's actually been most interesting to me is the way we're seeing brands use VIP tiers in ways that we don't even really enable today, to be honest, and that I want us to better enable. So a good example would be, beyond those kind of advanced earning or redemption rules, as we would call them, we've seen brands do things as creative as like. We have one brand here in New York that's like a loose leaf tea brand, and one of the rewards they would offer to their top VIP tier was that you could book a free 30 minute tasting session with a tea sommelier, which I thought was like super cool. So we're only really enabling that today from the standpoint of, like you know, essentially they know to offer that perk to customers in that segment and they send them an email with, say, a booking link to set up that session if they want, we would like to get further into the process of actually enabling these experiences more out of the box, whether that be access to a custom WhatsApp or community WhatsApp or Slack group or whatever it might be and so I think there's a lot of opportunity there.

Speaker 1:

I think you've seen a lot of excitement in the DTC space around memberships and just these types of like status or VIP tiers that enable really specific benefits that go beyond the core product, and I think we can play a really important role in enabling that and helping brands stand out. So this is one of the areas of product I'm most excited about, and we've got some cool stuff coming in, like the next six to nine months.

Speaker 2:

Do you think that DTC brands are spearheading the way that kind of the retention strategies kick in? Do you think they do something different because obviously they've got that direct relationship, whereas they're not having to go through distributors or retail networks?

Speaker 1:

Totally. Yeah, I think it's. You know, when I think about DTC loyalty, I actually think it's really interesting because, on the one hand, there are some limitations to what I think works in the space. If you compare it to like let's just use a membership program like Amazon Prime or even like you know what some of the best loyalty programs out there, like a Sephora, for example, is one of the ones that you're quoted often. Those are, in Amazon's case, that's obviously the biggest third party marketplace. In Sephora's case, they've got crazy selection across. You know tons of products and it's such an everyday purchase.

Speaker 1:

And so one of the things we do caution brands on sometimes is like you need to think about the context of your own business and whether the things that work for those types of companies with massive selection and, in Amazon's case, even the logistics and infrastructure they can put behind a two day shipping promise on priming.

Speaker 1:

You need to really think about whether that actually makes sense for the use case that your brand plays in a customer's mind.

Speaker 1:

So I think that's one of the constraints, but on the flip side, I think like you actually have the ability to build much deeper loyalty than some of those kind of marketplace or multi brand type retailers are able to, and we see this all the time, whether it be combining loyalty with subscriptions for a consumable product like coffee, for example, or any of these things. So I think it's an interesting trade off and I think we've tried to strike that middle balance with brands, which is, like you know, not every brand needs the membership equivalent of Amazon Prime. It likely won't work for you with your 10 skew product set, but here's the things that you can do actually that really do build loyalty because you do have such a niche product offering and such kind of like a devoted following or customer base. So it's been interesting to kind of see that balance and look at what the big players are doing, but also make sure we're helping brands understand, like, what the right offering for them would be.

Speaker 2:

If we just kind of go through the stamped suite of products. So you've got two main channels, You've got reviews and you've got loyalty. Under loyalty we've spoken about kind of points and rewards, We've spoken at a VIP program and I think referral programs obviously are growing as people try to kind of have some passive income or, you know, or make the most of their influence in other areas. On the review side, because this is something that I don't think gets the attention it sometimes deserves, because, you know, e-con platforms have review systems out of the box, and then there's kind of there's the online independent review engines, which people either love or hate because they seem to be so rigid in the way that they manage things. But what I'm really interested in so you offer product reviews and ratings, UGC and then Net Promoter Score, which is something that I think is really really important and I again think is underutilized.

Speaker 2:

Because I think, if you want, if you want really actionable insights as to why your customers are or are not buying from you, that's probably where it should start, because whenever kind of I've been part of it, you know Net Promoter Score campaigns you then get the feedback saying I, you know why would you? I mean NPS for those that know we've all received those emails from zero to 10, how you know how likely I to recommend us to a friend.

Speaker 2:

And then obviously they're skewed, that they're not equal. Anyone that gives you a I think it's, a nine or 10 is a promoter. Zero to six I think is is a detractor and everyone else is passive. But it's great because it says you know well, your shipping costs are expensive or you took too long, or it is great that I ordered at 10pm and I got the parcel, you know, within two days or whatever, whatever information it is. So let's talk a little bit about kind of Net Promoter Score and kind of the update that you're seeing with your merchants, because I think that is a really, really important piece of understanding your customers.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I completely agree. I think it's actually it's important in combination, obviously, with the product reviews component, because I think what ends up happening is obviously the feedback that comes in on product reviews is, of course, product specific and I think that by combining that with Net Promoter Score, usually what you have from a brand's perspective is the ability to understand, first of all, to contextualize, what they're seeing on product reviews. If you have an amazing NPS score when you're sending that out to customers and you have a certain product that's performing pretty poorly from a reviews perspective, that actually makes that product look even worse in comparison because you clearly have such high brand affinity that I think that's a big piece of it. The other thing is that we really and I can talk a little bit about some of the specific features here in a bit if it's interesting but we do a lot to try to help brands understand, on both the product reviews and the NPS side, what are some of the common themes coming out of that so that they can kind of action those things as a brand.

Speaker 1:

I think that when you think about from a brand's perspective, their product is obviously really important, but probably as important in the consumer's mind is what is your delivery experience like and what is your customer support experience like? Those pieces really only come out on the NPS side of things when a brand is thinking about how do people evaluate our support experience and really people think of that honestly as part of the product. Nps is one of the best ways to uncover that, whereas your product feedback is going to be much more quality and product experience focused. I think they're two really important pieces and we're super focused on helping brands, particularly with an internal tool like NPS, really figure out how to leverage that into the decisions they make about how they do customer support, how they do shipping and delivery and all those different things.

Speaker 2:

I use reviews quite a lot when I'm buying different products, For example, whether it's something that I don't buy, it's not repeat purchases. Say, if I'm buying a pair of running shoes or a pair of running socks or whatever, I'll read the reviews just to get understanding of quality and fit. And user-generated content is even better because you can interpret a review. Somebody can say well, I bought this in a Fella Pa after it was tight or it wasn't comfortable. But sometimes if you've got user-generated content, especially visual ones, so where you've got photos or videos, you can then look at all those other elements that maybe someone hasn't touched on in terms of their review to actually maybe that fits fine, or the materials nice, or I don't like the material or it looks a bit tight or whatever.

Speaker 2:

Let's talk a bit about that, because I'm seeing more interest in the UGC requirement from a merchant. So people are actually saying the reviews again. We're talking about standing out. The reviews just aren't enough. Yeah, and partly maybe because we're becoming really impatient and we don't want to trawl through 16 reviews. Maybe if we see a widget of photos or videos or whatever it is then, we're going to be able to make a faster, quicker decision. But what do you see within UGC space?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, yeah, great question. So this is actually one of my favorite topics because I think that it touches on and you were saying this before, but it touches on one of the most confusing things to me about the review space and e-commerce and actually why I was even attracted to it in the first place, which is I just don't see enough discussion generally about conversion, and that's the whole reason that you are leveraging reviews on site in the first place. Often in our sales cycle with customers, they'll come back to us and say, hey, competitor XYZ said that they've got a 4% response rate on review requests. What's your response rate? And ours is strong and we have that number available. But I'm like this is the wrong question. The right question should be when the methods that you make available to us to deploy reviews on site whether it be on a landing page or a product page or in checkout what influence is that having on conversion on my site? Or if you share those reviews out to Facebook or Instagram shops, which is a feature we support how is it actually providing lift on those channels? That's the whole reason to actually collect reviews. So back to your question. I think the thing that we really focus on when it comes to how to maximize conversion.

Speaker 1:

Out of some of the ways we allow review display on site, there's two main things that I think we see as providing the biggest conversion lift when people interact with them. The first one is photo and video. To your point, it's typically like being able to see the product. Particularly, seeing the product on especially if it's like a parallel shoes on someone who looks like they're like a similar size or build to you is actually really important, and so it has a major conversion benefit. It also, by the way, is providing potential assets to that brand for ad and owned marketing channels, which is hugely valuable, and it's one of the reasons that brands who work with us on reviews and loyalty almost always incentivize photo and video upload through their loyalty program. So you get some extra benefit for that, because there is a little bit more friction to the consumer to leave that. But hugely valuable to the conversion experience.

Speaker 1:

And the other piece I was going to mention, which is UGC in a way, but less in a visual way, is that we also really encourage brands to collect more information at the point of the review request. So not just how did you like the product, but I'll use like a skincare example, also understand from the customer what is your skin type dry, oily, whatever what is your skin tone? Have you ever used a product in this category? And then we'll allow them to use those as kind of like display filters when they display their reviews on site. And to the point you were making, say about shopping for running shoes, the ability to quickly filter down for reviews that are relevant to the question you maybe still have in mind or are relevant to someone like you, be it size or whatever it is like.

Speaker 1:

That is where we see the biggest conversion, uplift the most engagement. So I think, and I also consider that a form of UGC. So UGC around reviews in general, I think is like the lynchpin to driving higher conversion and it's why we try to really encourage brands, whether it be combining with loyalty or just within the reviews product itself, to really incentivize that type of behavior from consumers.

Speaker 2:

One thing that's really touch on there was that you that the merchant can leverage another part of your product to actually incentivize for. So they haven't got to go and get a third party system or, you know, configure or build something custom just to get it done. It's out of the suite of products that you offer and so let's just stay on reviews. So obviously, kind of having reviews, having genuine reviews, can influence potential customers in terms of their buying decision. What tips or kind of strategies would you recommend merchants can undertake in order to increase the uplift of reviews being left on their website?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, so a few things that the actual like in terms of increasing kind of the volume. There's a few things we do. One is we enable collection via multiple channels, so not only email but collection via SMS, collection via like a form on site and a few of these different pieces, even collection through a third party integration with a marketing communication tool like Klavia or TENF. So that's one of the things that has really helped in terms of kind of collection rates. The other thing is we really try to share data with merchants to inform the way that they build their collection flow in our product. So examples of that are like you should always be iterating on your subject line and your copy in the review request email itself, trying different things. See what gets the best response rate. You should almost always be have a multi if you're doing email, let's say a multi email sequence. So don't just prod someone once but come back seven days later and ask them once again to leave a review. We usually see up to three or four emails in that sequence. You see a pretty consistent uplift in response rate. I don't remember the numbers exactly, but it's something like, I think, for brands that work with us and only use one email in that sequence, it's like a 4 percent response rate. By the time you look at brands using three emails in that sequence, it's up to five and a half or 6 percent. So it's pretty significant. So those are some really important pieces, I think.

Speaker 1:

And the one other thing I'll say at the collection stage is that it's not just volume that we focus on although that is important but in terms of how do you ensure that the quality and usefulness of those reviews is high? We talked about UGC and incentivizing UGC, so I'll leave that to the side. But one other thing we do is we actually have a feature that it's an AI-based feature that basically prompts the user to reference topics that have been referenced previously by other reviewers. So for my skincare example, it might be something like other reviewers have talked about texture or whatever the other pieces might be, and it goes green, as you mentioned it in your own review, and it's a cool feature. But what it does is it basically encourages longer, more useful reviews, and those are the ones that get more engagement on site and drive more conversion on site. So it's both a volume and quality thing and we try to focus on both sides of that.

Speaker 2:

And from a merchant perspective, because those reviews were left on the website, that's not necessarily where they're syndicated to you plug in with other systems as well. Totally.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, we think about the usefulness of reviews in three channels. One is on-site landing pages, product pages, checkout etc. And I just talked about the conversion left there. And then we think about two other channels. So the first one is what we call owned marketing channels, so that would be your email and wherever you're doing email and SMS from. So like Clavio, for example, two ways it's really useful in that channel. One is in the content itself, so you might feature a positive review for a product in a marketing campaign. But it's also the segmentation or the data side of things. So we work with a supplement brand who just launched a second version of their initial product. They're pretty early stage. They launched a V1 and then six months later they launched a V2. They really specifically targeted their V2 launch messaging to be different in targeting negative reviewers of that V1 launch. And hey, we addressed your feedback on X, y and Z and I think that's really powerful as a segmentation lever.

Speaker 1:

If you think about a lot of these D2C brands, they don't actually know a lot about you. You might have purchased from them twice. They know what you ordered and they know when you ordered it. They know whether you returned, but now, with our information. They know how you felt about the product, the sentiment of that review, which we'll also capture in some of those pieces. So that's really helpful in those own channels. And then, lastly, I think the point you were referencing there is many of these brands are increasingly going multi-channel. So that could be a retailer like Walmartcom, targetcom, and we'll kind of facilitate syndication to those channels. It could be some of the new social shopping opportunities, so Facebook and Instagram shops, or we're exploring something with TikTok shops, and so we syndicate reviews to those channels. And those platforms have been really keen to work together because they see the same data we do on merchant sites, which is that increasing review count on key products really drives conversion. So we think about those as kind of the three main ways to be able to leverage reviews.

Speaker 2:

And you mentioned briefly AI, so I don't think we can have a podcast episode without mentioning chatGPT. What kind of impact has AI engines like chatGPT had on customers' perception of trusting reviews?

Speaker 1:

Yeah.

Speaker 1:

So I think I wouldn't say we've heard a ton about it yet from brands directly, but what I expect will actually happen here is that it will significantly increase the value of reviews, and we like stamped and, to be clear, most of our competitors do this too, but we will specifically verify reviews for merchants.

Speaker 1:

So basically, we're confirming that that review came from an email address which also purchased that product from you, so we know that it is an actual purchaser of the product, right, and so those reviews can be guaranteed to be authentic. And that's already valuable today. But if you think about a world where the place that I expect GPT to have the biggest immediate impact in e-commerce is actually a super high volume of low value content that is mostly SEO focused, so brands are all of a sudden able to produce five times, 10 times, more content on a blog and they know which keywords they're supposed to be covering for, and I think, on a relative basis, that increases the value of authentic user feedback versus a proliferation of lower value content out there. So I actually think it works in favor of some of these more kind of like mechanisms where trust is baked in, like verified reviews.

Speaker 2:

I would 100% agree with you, because you do see those kind of genuine pieces of content coming through and if you've obviously verified reviews, that makes sure that you know the customer browsing the website or purchasing knows that it's come from somebody who has actually experienced that product. Just on a kind of side note, one thing that I do find a bit annoying from my perspective when I'm looking at reviews, whether they're verified or not. I mean, obviously having verified reviews is vital when you're making a decision, but what I find doesn't always work Well and I think this is for international merchants is where you've got consolidated reviews from different regions on that one product. So the example was I was buying some some socks yesterday from a large website and they had reviews that were in German and I'm young in the UK.

Speaker 2:

I was on the UK website, but what they're doing is they're consolidating all those reviews for that product. Yeah, and the problem that I think that that sometimes can create is that maybe the expectation or the or the needs and requirements of somebody in a different country, a different than somebody you know, for example, if you're selling a winter jacket to somebody in the UK, their standards are going to be much lower than you know.

Speaker 2:

Selling it to somebody in the Nordics where they need you know is they're going to be going out for three, four months of the year in minus 20 Celsius temperatures, whereas in the UK. So I think that's one of the dangers of trying to kind of just cram in the reviews is that different markets have different requirements, so the people buying those products will have different things. So you know, for example, it could receive a negative review from a customer in the Nordics, but actually for people in the UK it might be the best product around.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, yeah, and actually so that last point you know. So, first of all, I completely agree on the general point. It's one of the reasons that, like filtering both behind the scenes and then making filtering options available to the customer, I think are a really important part of reviews display. But the last point you made is actually one of my favorite things to talk about with brands, which is the importance of negative reviews generally. So, first of all, like when you're featuring first party reviews on your site, meaning you collected them from merchants and it's not like an Amazon or a third party marketplace where you know that the, the review collector is not the product seller, right, so you're already in a consumer's mind they're likely looking at your reviews with a bit more skepticism because they know this is like your first party channel and the bias we see from a lot of brands, which we've really tried to discourage, is like oh, I should only show positive stuff. Well, first of all, if somebody comes to your site and sees that you have a thousand reviews on a product and a five star rating, like a five point, oh, almost always and we've seen this reaction in customer research like almost always, they're like I don't believe this, it doesn't make any sense, right? And then the second thing and I think this is really important is where negative reviews can really help. So I've been making this point of like you need to find a way to display reviews that are relevant to the question the person's trying to answer, the type of person they are or where they live.

Speaker 1:

To your point, one of the real values you can provide with negative reviews is when customers see those. It builds trust and authenticity and oftentimes one of the best roles they can play is like, let's say, you're that exact situation you talked about. So you're shopping for a winter coat in the UK and you actually see a few negative reviews from people in like I don't know, like Northern Canada or like the Nordics, let's say, right, and you actually recognize, okay, they're showcasing honest content here, but this actually is not my concern. So I'm actually fine with this and everyone else I'm seeing seems to be saying it's warm enough. I see a few reviews from you know places that are more like where I live and it's warm enough, and that has a lot of value in pushing that person to trust what they're seeing and then get them over the hump from a conversion perspective.

Speaker 1:

So this is something we really highlight to brands is like you need to think about negative reviews, as your product is not going to be perfect for every customer. Negative reviews very often come from more edge case situations and showing that is actually really important because it actually reinforces the fit or the confidence in the product for, like your core target customer. So, anyway, I just thought that was a great example. We try to encourage exactly that scenario and I probably will use that example in a merchant conversation.

Speaker 2:

I mean, I've had a merchant say that they don't have, they're B2B but they don't have reviews on their website because they don't want to have the negative ones displayed. And having to educate somebody and say people see right through that that you're basically curating your reviews, I mean, when I'm kind of filtering, whether it's for hotels or it's for clothing or whatever it is, I think my benchmark is anything below a four is probably not ideal. But if those ratings are being skewed by people in another country with different expectations, that's going to have an impact on how approach that product. But at the same time, like to your point, the merchant is, you know, needs to do some work and say right, why am I getting 72 stars or three stars and it could be that you know the quality isn't there or the fit isn't there.

Speaker 2:

You do see some reviews that aren't necessarily about the product. I mean, when I was buying these products, one of the reviews was a one star because the parcel arrived late. So it wasn't actually a product review as a service review, but that's the channel that they use. But I would agree that you know kind of you can make a decision. Is the negative review an asset or a liability to my business? I can put my head in the sand and say it's a liability, so I'm just going to hide it.

Speaker 2:

Or actually you know, understand why you got the negative feedback and you know I'm sure you'd agree. You either address it. Or you know directly with the customer and say well, you know, we're really sorry that the products you know not to expectation and try and resolve it. Or you take that feedback on board, like the supplement brand that you spoke about, and I think that's a really good marketing case there as well, because it's kind of saying right, you know, we know we fell short here, but look, we've solved. You know we've addressed 60% of those points or whatever the number is. So that's a really interesting, interesting marketing case there.

Speaker 1:

Yeah.

Speaker 2:

Have you got any examples where customers have kind of been able to capitalize on negative reviews or maybe there's been like a positive outcome in the end that they've been able to leverage, apart from the supplement brand, I guess?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, yeah. So that was one and I think that was a good example of using it in customer segmentation. To go back to negative reviewers and we see a lot of that actually in like a customer support context. Probably the best example I saw that is less display focused. Since we just talked about that is we have one of our like five biggest brands working with standards and global apparel and beauty brand. They have described to us the way and they actually came to one of our internal sessions with our customer teams. They describe the way that they use it in their product development cycle and I was pretty blown away actually the degree to which reviews were deeply informing like a product development process with a pretty big team.

Speaker 1:

I think when I describe that's often the brand before.

Speaker 1:

That's a pretty early stage business.

Speaker 1:

It's one person and those are the ones that are often very receptive to feedback, because the person reading the reviews is the same as the product development person and the marketer and then they do everything right but, like when you with this brand that I'm talking about, you know they probably got 50 or 100 people and split across functions and the way that they talked about how it was informing every function by product development in particular, I think was really was really insightful, and it's it's made me, from a product direction perspective, it's made me want to find ways to help more brands move in that direction. I think one of the trickiest things is for some of the biggest brands that work with stamping. They might be collecting hundreds, in some cases even thousands of reviews per week, and so we've started to think about, like how do we, if they're not going to have someone review every single one of those manually, what can we do to help them better pull out some of the negative or kind of like constructive feedback, in particular to replicate that process I was just describing?

Speaker 2:

And one of your kind of within a system. One of the features there is that you've got the data suite as well, so customers can kind of leverage that to get the fee. To understand, I guess, the feedback that's coming in.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, totally yeah, we've said this is. If I could just talk about this for a second, we have one. I, despite maybe some skepticism I shared earlier on some of the different use cases of AI, I am really excited about a lot of the recent stuff, I think particularly in like the language space. So one feature we've been working on on the side for a few months here is, I mentioned before, like, I think, the kind of like topic filter feature we have where, like, we might pick out the 10 most common topics being referenced in reviews on a product and then make them available as filters on the actual review display on the page. And that feature for us traditionally has been keyword based, so it would just pick out like the top it filters out a lot of like junk words, but basically it'll pick out the top 10 keywords, let's say, and then feature them. We started running like a GPT enabled version of that feature, which is basically look at all of the reviews and come up with your own topic, like ask the system to come up with your own topics. That wouldn't necessarily be keyword based and you know we've got a long way to fully productize that, but I think in the brands that we've tested it with.

Speaker 1:

It's been awesome in terms of both like putting some real First of all, putting language behind a lot of the negative sentiments that customers have, but also on the positive side, we've seen a lot of interest in using this not only for displaying on site to drive higher engagement, but even for informing the way brands think about advertising or marketing copy.

Speaker 1:

I have one example I referenced before one of our big brands in New York. That's this loose leaf tea brand and we read it on their stuff and they had a holiday tea that this thing was spitting out. Instead of topics like sweet or tasty or whatever it might spit out, it was spitting out things like taste, like Christmas reminds me of childhood memories. It was just TBD on whether that would drive higher engagement on site, but A it's cool and B they were interested in it from a marketing perspective. I think there's a lot we can do there to also use that to do genuine, more valuable topic classification, which is one of the things I think we can do to help brands scale the way they look at both parts of that negative feedback.

Speaker 2:

Really interesting, I think, because if you're getting that data from the system saying it tastes like Christmas or those emotive elements are just going to be so good from a marketing perspective. Marketing seems like you say would be screaming out. Let's bring it back to how Stamped can help merchants selling online to increase the trust and the relationship and increase the lifetime value that they have with their customers. What would be your advice to a customer that's saying right, I want to build these long-term relationships, I want to increase the lifetime value. How can Stamped help them? How should I implement it? What are maybe the best ways that I could implement to start seeing some ROI?

Speaker 1:

Obviously, I would tell that brand that I think we have products across this whole suite that can really help, starting from that visitor shows up to the site. How do we drive better conversion all the way through? I think there's our whole product suite can contribute to that. I think the thing I would say on the loyalty side in particular because that's the piece that we always highlight as if you're not doing this, you're going to struggle to stand out on bringing someone back repeatedly to your product I think the big thing here is we don't give out generic advice in that space.

Speaker 1:

This is really important because, unlike reviews and there are some elements of the way that you display reviews and the way that you leverage reviews that can be pretty industry specific, say, whether you're in a parallel or a beauty and fitness brand Loyalty is even far more different in terms of the way you should design a loyalty program, in terms of what you should offer customers and in terms of what you can afford to offer customers based on the margin profile of your business, if you're a low-margin CPG brand versus a luxury brand of some sort.

Speaker 1:

What I would say is I think there are ways that we've found that we can benefit almost any brand in the DTC space, but particularly on the loyalty side it's highly, highly specific to industry. That's why we also put a really big emphasis on our customer success or account management team and our support team, because I do think that that expertise that we have in our team is really important to helping people get the most out of these tools. I guess the way I would answer that is we have tools that I think can help almost any brand in the DTC space on that conversion and lifetime value side, but we don't really advise a one-size-fits-all approach because that's not really where we've seen the best results.

Speaker 2:

Well, thank you very much for taking the time to speak with me. Like to ask all our guests what podcast or book podcast they're listening to, or what book they're either reading or listening to at the moment that they'd recommend to our listeners.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, on the left front, I love podcasts. I listened to a bunch of them. The most interesting one I listened to recently, I think, is this one called Land of the Giants, that catalogs like a big tech company every season and they just did Tesla, which I thought was a cool one in terms of company history. Obviously it's like a in some ways kind of a lightning-wrong company. That one was cool On the book side and maybe a little more relevant to this conversation.

Speaker 1:

I just finished everything store about kind of the early days of Amazon and I'm planning to read the follow-up to that book and that one was cool. I think the coolest thing about it to me was that it's very easy to look at a business like that and be like it's so obvious. Everything they've done in hindsight seems obvious, whether it be the original e-commerce business or even their cloud business. But to go back in a deeply researched book like that to what it was like in 1995 when you're making this decision of we're going to start selling books on the internet, I think it's really I don't know. I'm fascinated by the internet in general and so to have a book that kind of starts right at the early stages of that with one of obviously the biggest companies, which is really cool. So, yeah, I'd highly recommend that one.

Speaker 2:

The everything store about Amazon. We'll put a link in the show notes. So if people want to learn more about stamps, what should they do?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, so our website is stampio. We've got all of our information there. I also love talking about it. See if I'm on Twitter or LinkedIn, or you can just reach out to our support team or really any of our teams. You've got like one of the most friendly, passionate groups I've ever worked with, especially about e-commerce, so any of us are always happy to chat.

Speaker 2:

Cool. Well, again, we'll share those links. So again, mike, thank you very much for your time and insight. I've learned a lot and hope our listeners have as well. It's been really fun learning kind of how stamped has evolved over the years, that we've kind of worked with them as well, and how you benefit merchants. So yeah, thank you again.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, thanks so much for having me Appreciate it. Not at all.

Speaker 2:

Thank you for listening to the BigCommerce Podcast. If you've enjoyed today's episode, please leave us a review on your favorite podcast platform and make sure you're following us on social media, on Instagram and on LinkedIn. If you've got ideas or suggestions for future episodes, please send us an email info at the BigCommercePodcastcom or on our social media platform.

Reviews and Loyalty in E-Commerce
Importance of Loyalty Programs and Feedback
Leveraging User-Generated Content for Conversion Boost
Negative Reviews' Impact in E-Commerce
Data for Customer Feedback and Loyalty