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January 27, 2009

The video revolution in eCommerce is finally underway

Over the past year, as I’ve spoken at various industry events and trade shows, I’ve felt very ‘lonely’ as I have evangelized the power (and potential) for video in eCommerce. There are two key things that have fueled this belief for me. First, as part of Adobe, I have seen the voracious consumer appetite for web video outside eCommerce - largely media and social networking sites. comScore has been tracking this growth throughout 2008 – noting that in July, 134 million Americans watched 11.4 billion videos… or more than 2 videos per user, per day. This represented 75% of the US Internet population watching video! 6.5 million Americans also watched mobile video in August. comScore’s data shows this isn’t a US-only phenomenon either – more than 25 million people in France watched more than 2 billion videos in September… 26 million Germans watched 219 million hours of web video in August (118 videos per viewer)… and 27 million people in the UK watched more than 3 billion videos in August. Consumers love web video – a lot. Second, through my Scene7 imaging experience, I’ve learned the old adage ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’ rings very true in eCommerce. So what is a moving picture (a.k.a. video) worth?

It is obvious how video benefits ‘hardgoods’ categories ala appliances and consumer electronics to demonstrate and review a product; but can video help in any category? I am starting to conclude that it can. One of my favorite videos is on the Littlewoods UK site – a major player in the apparel market. They are an early innovator in video and have gotten ahead of the pack in eCommerce – I think they have more than 1,500 videos at this point, maybe more, many of which they’ve invested to produce themselves. So, check out this video on Littlewoods.com.

Every time I watch this video, I go back to the product page and feel like it pales in comparison to the ‘selling’ that happens in the video. First, the spokesperson has a great personality to convey the ‘fun’ of the brand – and she is very crafty in conveying the utility of the dress, the types of occasions one would wear it, how it would fit, what body types would benefit, etc. It is nearly impossible to get all that information across – in a mere 30 seconds – in any other format. And, did I mention consumers prefer watching video to start off with…?

Not into dresses? If you are a skiing enthusiast – watch this Cloudveil video. The clip shows extreme skiing interspersed with demos of key product features (entertainment and selling). These videos were all internally produced, keeping the quality high but production costs low. I used to think you had to keep your clip under a minute – but when it comes to talking to a targeted audience – in this case, skiing enthusiasts – three minutes of content actually works quite nicely.

Clearly, our industry (eCommerce) has really lagged this consumer trend (opportunity). I’ve been a bit surprised not to see more progress sooner as leading etailers look for the next big conversion and customer experience opportunity. However, I picked up on a research study from eMarketer yesterday that made me think “perhaps the revolution is finally underway.” eMarketer surveyed retailer intentions on new innovations – and adding “video or streaming media” has flown to the top of the list – even ahead of some real stalwarts like reviews and improved search! It would appear those retailers who have been dabbling in video – now have religion – and a strong intention to really make this ‘the next big thing’ to better serve their customers. The link to the study: http://www.emarketer.com/Article.aspx?id=1006883

This move from "dabbling" to "top intended new capability" is exciting for the industry and the consumer. By no coincidence – with my strong belief in video – we at Adobe Scene7 will play a major role to enable (and ease the implementation of) the video revolution in eCommerce. Coincidental with the eMarketer release, we put out this announcement yesterday ourselves: http://www.scene7.com/news/2009/20090126.asp

As Adobe has established a great standard in web video with Flash video – delivering a very elegant and high quality experience for the consumer - and as Scene7 has similarly become the de facto platform for publishing and delivery of images to eCommerce sites, this very much felt like one of those ‘peanut butter meets chocolate’ moments when we became part of Adobe in 2007 and put together our joint product plans to add Flash video publishing. It is really something seeing it all come to reality with consumers, retailers and suppliers all converging on this great opportunity. I can’t wait to watch more moving pictures.

As you think about your video strategy, drop me questions in the comment box and I’ll either respond in the comments or email you back.

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January 20, 2009

Welcome to MackTalk

For more than a decade, I have been working on Internet-related things – and have spent time in a broad range of capacities. Most recently, I’ve focused on solutions that drive innovation and rich online experiences. Throughout these years I have found tremendous opportunities exist for eCommerce and multi-channel marketers to differentiate themselves online and enhance their customer experiences. As we enter 2009, facing an economic downturn and eCommerce growth rates that have slowed to single digits worldwide, customer experience is more important now than ever. Thus, I am initiating this interactive forum to share insights and best practices on the latest trends we are seeing in the marketplace - and “Quick Tips” to help you improve your customer experience, ultimately driving conversions and revenues.

I have been privileged to work with some of the industry’s best talent in rich media and customer experience from whom I have learned so much and been inspired along the way. Many of these experts have even obliged me and will contribute their insights and perspectives on this blog as well. So as you visit, let us know what you think - we’d love to hear from you – and please add to the dialogue.

So, here is the first of many Quick Tips to get started with some rich media “basics” (101 level) to drive your customer experience – over time, we’ll ladder up to more advance concepts.

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January 20, 2009

Zoom, zoom, zoom!

Whether shopping in person or online, people want to take a closer look before purchasing a product. For online retailers, the Zoom feature is critical. But what’s the best way to let your customers zoom? How do you provide the necessary level of detail while maximizing screen real estate and doing it all with an intuitive user interface?


Crate & Barrel

1. Pop-up window
Wine Enthusiast offers zoom in a pop-up viewer that allows shoppers to click for a larger view with even greater detail than what is initially shown in the product page.

2. Embedded viewer
Under Armour uses an embedded zoom view that fills the width of the product page, providing a much better experience than any printed catalog and most online stores.

3. Modal layer
Patagonia opts to open a modal layer in the same browser window, rather than opening a new popup window. With this approach, you don’t have to worry about popup blocking.

4. Fly over zoom
Levi Strauss & Co. uses a unique approach, allowing shoppers to drag a magnifier over the main image to display a corresponding zoomed view. This gives you the level of detail you need while still keeping the entire product in view.

5. Combo
Crate and Barrel gives shoppers a choice by providing a combination of the embedded zoom viewer with a larger modal layer zoom.

Whichever method you choose to implement on your site, remember to make sure your master image is large enough to provide the level of detail that shoppers need to make a decision. And if using a pop-up, make sure your popup view window is always significantly larger than your product view size. One thing I’ve learned that applies to nearly every company and every product – you can literally never make your image big enough for your customers… and you can never provide them too much detail.

Click here if you want to learn more about Adobe Scene7 and applying zoom to your site.

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  • ShopTalk is a blog featuring "Quick Tips", trends and more written by experts from the Adobe Scene7 team who live and breathe web, rich media and customer experience. This interactive forum offers insights and best practices on the latest trends we are seeing in the marketplace to help improve your customer experience, ultimately driving conversions and revenues.
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