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June 22, 2009

Flag critical information on your images

It's been proven that shoppers' eyes are drawn first to images, so that's the best place to put important information. But you certainly don’t want to be updating your graphic files every time you want to change the text. By using dynamic overlays to flag important messages — such as "New" or "On sale" or "Offered in multiple colors"— you can increase response, click through, and conversion rates.

Let’s look at some examples:



House of Fraser
, an International department store group known for delivering a robust online shopping experience, employs flagging to bring attention to items on the site that are "New" or "Exclusive." They do this so that shoppers can learn as much as possible about a product right on the category or browse pages – without having to drill down to a product page level or even the shopping cart. When a product is no longer new or exclusive, it's easy to update the graphic by removing the overlay. It keeps the site fresh and customers looking for the telltale flags.

The Home Shopping Network
does a great job at tying overlays to inventory levels and showing that on the product pages. Depending on the level, a different overlay will appear such as "Almost sold out" or "On wait list" or "Sold out.” Elevating such real-time details can instill a sense of urgency that encourages shoppers to act quickly and that, in turn, elevates HSN’s ROI.

Click here if you’d like to learn more about Adobe Scene7 and applying dynamic templates to your site.

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June 16, 2009

Is Building Brand Loyalty Tougher Than Ever?

With more ways than ever for consumers to get what they need when they need it, it’s tougher for retailers to build and maintain brand loyalty online. Online shoppers are in fact the most demanding of all shoppers, with high expectations surrounding the breadth of products offered, up-to-date pricing including sales and promotions, a variety of shipping options and more detailed information than is available in a retail store or catalog.

It is a highly competitive online market space and it is not always the traditional multi-channel retailers that are top of mind when shopping online. In our newly released Brand Loyalty Whitepaper leveraging privately-funded research undertaken with BRS Group Modern Research earlier this year, we found that only eight e-retailers score higher than 6% in unaided recall among online shoppers. Further, social media, more than advertising, is shaping customers’ perceptions on businesses (reviews, feedback forums, blogs, etc.) and the result is an influenced economy that is forcing everyone in the public realm—including the owners of products and brands—to become more transparent, open, conversational and honest. Merchandisers are now in a position where they will have to rethink the way influence is distributed and the new role of marketing communications in an information landscape dictated by consumers.

A few affordable suggestions to gain the much-needed traction e-retailers are after include price transparency, product interactivity (connecting with customers via live chat), RIA’s to create an overall engaging online experience and feedback forums to encourage shoppers to share their recommendations with others.

Our research shows that online shoppers are still walking away from shopping carts (an epidemic rarely seen offline) mainly because there is a lack of information, even less engaging content, and little promise that security (still a top concern for consumers) won’t be compromised. How are you stopping this trend? We would love to hear about loyalty tactics that have worked for you. It’s important to us to share that kind of insight with our customers and reveal problem-solving techniques we know can make a difference in ROI. Download the new whitepaper here.

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June 09, 2009

Are People Shopping Online for Big-Ticket Items?

The answer is a resounding “yes” – and it is on the rise. From recent data, online shoppers are far more likely to purchase big-ticket home items, including major appliances like refrigerators and washer/dryer combos, directly from a website than they were 2 years ago (according to a 2008 study by PriceGrabber, a Web-based comparison-shopping service). The study found that “unease with online merchants’ customer service and the fear of making large online purchases have all decreased” since a similar survey was taken back in 2006.

According to the current survey of 1945 shoppers, 24% said they would be apt to buy major appliances online today, compared with around half that number two years ago. While the desire to “touch and feel” large home items remains an important reason for people not buying off the Web, the percentage citing that reason has dropped over the two surveys (from 70% to just over 50%). That is namely because certain retailers have become so good at merchandising online.

Thirty-three percent of online users will now conduct more research online to make sure they get exactly what they want before purchasing. (Source: Jupiter Research Economic Downturn Online Consumer Survey, Q4 2008.) A whopping 13% use the Web specifically to reduce the number of visits to the store. This research process shows an increased concern for doing more targeted shopping and making fewer impulse purchases. Of the online buyers who use more than one Web site when shopping around, 30% are in search of more product information—better images, product detail and beyond—and the vastness of the sites offering relevant product information has proved valuable rather than daunting. In fact, 58% of online users say that the breadth of information available online helps them feel more confident that they are buying the right product to meet their needs. (Source: JupiterResearch/NPD Retail Consumer Survey (04/08), n = 2,231 (US).)

Ultimately, much of our goal at Adobe Scene7 has been to support the consumer quest for information for either direct ecommerce purchase or research prior to store purchase – ranging from basic enhancements (zoom, alt views) to more advanced shopping tools such as visual configurators, where shoppers can actually visualize more on the web than they can in the store with these interactive selling tools. Swapping out basic colors is one thing, but Sub-Zero is one appliance manufacturer that has given new meaning to customization, actually enabling shoppers to view appliances in different kitchen environments, and change appliance finishes, cabinets, walls, countertops, trim and floors to reflect personal style and color palette. As this implementation caught my eye – I thought anyone who is selling bigger ticket items would be interested in checking this best practice out.

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June 01, 2009

Show and tell, ASAP

Why should shoppers have to navigate all the way down to product detail pages to find key information? By making details available sooner rather than later, you can improve the overall shopping experience. Add more information in your category and search result pages, including details like price, available colors and sizes, alternative views, special offers, and even an ‘Add to cart’ button. For example:

LandsEnd.jpg

Lands' End
This site requires minimal clicking. By just mousing over any image, alternative views for pricing, special offers, and color options are immediately displayed. When you click on a color swatch, the alternative views change to that color. When you click through to the product page, the color remains the same as what you were just viewing on the category page.

We conducted a survey earlier this year and the results only confirm that Lands’ End is following “best practices” in the way that they merchandise their inventory. Of those who responded to our survey, the following tactics were found very effective/effective:

Alternative images – 99%
Color swatching / colorizing – 97%
Lifestyle imagery / photos – 95%
Quick looks & rollover views – 93%
Visual filtering & advanced search – 93%

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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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