Plasmas to Pacifiers...Does rich media apply?
In my blog last week, I included some of the findings from our recent survey – and improved customer experiences remains a key 2009 trend. The intention to invest is broad based, with both retailers and manufacturers upping their investments in visual merchandising - across content production, tools and technology. The intensified focus on the online retail experience reflects not just the desire of multi-channel retailers to increase online market share, but also their awareness that many of their consumers use their web sites for researching offline purchases. Philips is one of the best examples I’ve seen of a global manufacturer who is successfully offering an experience that supports the selling of product through both direct and in-direct selling channels. In talking to their executives, their major investments in a best-in-class online customer experience is also heavily driven by the fact that 45% of their customers’ offline purchases are now influenced by online searches conducted prior to entering any store, thereby making Philips’ web sites in 56 countries, critical to the success of its global multi-channel strategy. Philips was also able to prove that by enriching and simplifying the online shopping experience, page views per visit across all of their web properties jumped 15 percent, customer satisfaction and brand advocacy spiked and click through rocketed to an industry-leading 7%. This team is really executing on a great vision.
So, the question is, do all online products need rich media to make them successfully saleable? Do you need a dynamic zoom view of a baby bottle?
We believe that the customer experience should ideally be intuitive and visually relevant for different product categories on an e-commerce site. Not every product requires a video or alternative view or even 360-degree spin. Clearly Philips, a manufacturer of everything from shaving equipment to electronics would also agree - as depending on the product category, the site dynamically shows different visual merchandising techniques. At the baseline, however, a single high quality image – ideally with zoom – is typically core across all product lines, which then, based on the product type, can scale up to extra views, Flash animations, product finders, videos and the like. There is obviously no “one-size-fits-all” answer (even within a given website), but I am not sure I’ve run across a site yet that would not benefit from enhanced customer experience around at least a portion of their product offerings.
If you have an interesting story, learning, or perspective to share on the relative applicability of rich media to different product categories, please comment on what you’ve experienced…