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Okendo Announced as Gold Sponsors of Ecommerce Unlocked: South West

We’re excited to officially announce Okendo as one of the Gold Sponsors of Ecommerce Unlocked! And not without reason; Okendo is the reviews engine behind successful South West-based brand Finisterre, amongst others.

We checked in with Stephen Dundas, Head of Solutions-Engineering at Okendo, to find out more about what he thinks can drive merchant success in the South West.

Stephen Dundas, Head of Solutions-Engineering at Okendo.

What is Okendo and what are the main benefits the platform can offer ecommerce merchants?

Okendo is a customer marketing platform for high-growth consumer brands. The platform has everything merchants need to be able to capture and showcase customer-generated content such as product ratings & reviews, UGC and Q&A. Merchants then use this content to build shopper trust, drive conversions and maximize CLT.

Can you tell us about some of the big UK brands who are using Okendo on their ecommerce store (including any brands based in the South West)?

Sure, so in the South West we’ve got Finisterre. Other well-known UK brands using Okendo include Skinnydip London, Taylors of Harrogate, Boda Skins and Innermost.

Why are customer reviews so important in ecommerce?

Customer reviews create an incredible amount of value for merchants! The obvious and most easily understood value is the ‘social proof’ factor — the ability for authentic customer reviews to build trust in the minds of shoppers. Shoppers are eager to leverage the knowledge of past customers to inform their decision-making, and reviews is an ideal, if not expected, format for sourcing that knowledge.

Image: Okendo.io

Reviews that include customer-generated photos/videos and give shoppers a visual insight into product performance are particularly impactful. The best reviews, those that have the biggest impact on key ecommerce measures (such as conversion rate and average order value), are those that include insights into the customer themselves. This allows customers to align their purchase decisions with people who have similar characteristics and requirements as themselves. Skincare shoppers, for example, are often particularly interested in understanding the opinions of customers who have the same 'skin type' as they do. Reviews also add significant value earlier in the customer journey, during the discovery stage. Merchants can integrate review data to Google search to improve the rankings and click-through rates of their product pages in organic search results. They can also integrate review data into Product Listing Ads in Google Shopping — this reduces ad costs and enables merchants to capture more qualified shopper traffic.

Then there are several higher-order value drivers that start to become pronounced as merchants get bigger and more sophisticated. One such driver is the ability of reviews to provide merchants with a consistent measure of customer experience, both good and bad. When things go wrong — and let's face it, they do — then a review is often the first means by which a customer will let a merchant know. Merchants then have a great opportunity to jump in and assist that customer, and hopefully resolve their problem. Many of our merchants have integrated Okendo with a customer support system such as Zendesk or Gorgias so that a support ticket is automatically created when a low-rated review is submitted. This type of automation gives merchants a streamlined process for managing the customer experience.

Another key value driver for high-growth merchants is the ability to use reviews as a means to collect highly valuable first-party customer data. Merchants collecting customer insights such as 'age', 'skin type' or 'favourite sport' within reviews can then use this data to create more granular customer segments, which they can then target with more personalised communications. Layering this type of customer data with other data sources such as a loyalty program, or order history, enables merchants to significantly increase their marketing effectiveness.

Are there any hot topics you think will shape the ecommerce industry this year?

I think DTC (direct-to-consumer) merchants wanting to compete on intangible differentiators, such as experience and brand, are awakening to the importance and value of owning the customer relationship. By this, I mean the removal of dependencies on intermediaries such as Facebook, Instagram or Amazon to engage, communicate or transact with customers. Interacting directly with customers affords brands numerous advantages such as being able to more effectively collect and utilize customer data, reducing the costs of customer acquisition and ultimately, having more control over the overall customer experience. I think owning the customer relationship in this way is fast becoming a key trend among DTC and that this trend will accelerate in 2020.

Why should South West brands get excited about Ecommerce Unlocked coming to Exeter?

Ecommerce Unlocked is going to be an incredible day. I think the format of the event is super exciting in that it combines larger presentations from leading merchants, tech solutions and industry experts with smaller, hands-on masterclasses that really dive into the detail on specific topics and give merchants the opportunity to ‘get-to-grips’ with the strategies, tactics and technologies that are driving ecommerce success in 2020.

Thanks, Stephen! We look forward to hearing more about Okendo and relationship marketing on the Ecommerce Unlocked stage.

If you want to hear more about how you can generate excellent user reviews for your store, grab your ticket for Ecommerce Unlocked: South West now!