Small archery products retailer feels the power of reviews

Since 3Rivers Archery started using the PowerReviews platform to drive customer feedback, the volume of reviews has increased by 30 percent.

So, the first thing you'll notice about the company featured in this technology case study, 3Rivers, is that not only is it a small retailer but it focuses on a very niche market. Seriously, how many people in your neighborhood are in need of a longbow or recurve expert? That's the sort of thing that 3Rivers sells, appealing to hunters and sports archers.

That tight focus has been very well-served by the Ashley, Ind.-based company's chosen customer reviews platform, PowerReviews, according to Johnathan Karch, assistant director of sales and marketing.

PowerReviews is a service that makes it simple for visitors to the 3Rivers e-commerce site to write and submit product feedback or rate different products that the company is offering. When I spoke with Karch about two weeks ago, he estimated that there are 15,000-plus reviews associated with the site.

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Approximately 20 reviews are submitted per day during the week, with that number jumping up to 60 or 80 per day on the weekend, Karch said. He makes it a point to review submissions within one business day; if feedback contains a question or a question is submitted separately, the 3Rivers team's policy is to try to answer that query within 24 hours.

"We handle all the moderation, and we refuse to edit someone's opinion," Karch said.

Since the company began using PowerReviews, it has seen a 30 percent increase in customer feedback and more than one-quarter of the reviewers have also opted into the 3Rivers customer loyalty program.

The 3Rivers marketing team has begun using the information gathered in PowerReviews to help make product merchandising or manufacturing decisions.

For example, Karch said 3Rivers has begun publishing customer feedback in its 112-page paper catalog; it has seen sales of those products grow as a result. The company may also choose to feature a product that it might not otherwise have considered, he said. That's important because sales to the e-commerce site usually spike about 75 percent in the two weeks after a catalog is mailed, Karch said.

"We have gotten rid of products that don't work and repositioned those that were doing well a bit differently," Karch said.

3Rivers stops short of saying that using PowerReviews has resulted in a sales increase. "I can say that there are larger numbers of reviews on our higher transaction products," Karch said.