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May 13, 2010

Besting the In-Store Experience

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As promised, I am sharing in a blog series some insights culled from our Customer Experience Live Event held last month.

One of our featured customers, Michigan-based Summit Sports, gave us much food for thought, challenging itself with the mission of delivering a "better than an in-store experience." That's a tall order when you consider all the advantages a retail environment offers, where salespeople are standing by and shoppers can try the merchandise on for size. Add to this the fact that Summit is selling highly technical products like skis and snowboards that easily cost north of $1,000, and it becomes an even tougher proposition to convince shoppers to buy online.

Amid what it calls a "notoriously stubborn" conversion rate, Summit last year decided to overhaul its 13 online properties. The metrics it achieved as a result were nothing short of stellar: it grew conversion 11% and nearly doubled its online revenue. Among its revamp initiatives, Summit sharpened its focus on search engine optimization, added breadth to its product narratives, and amped up the site's rich viewing capabilities to enable shoppers to see everything granularly, right down to the stitching. It standardized on the product specs so that when you can compare one product against another, you're actually comparing apples and oranges. For each of its product categories, it offered supplementary content links, including buying guides, sizing guides and videos.

Impressively, Summit captured 1,400 product review videos in just three days to yield more than 3,000 videos that now live on its sites. The videos offer both breadth and depth: You can view a clip about how to mount ski bindings, or drill deeper and watch someone review a specific brand of ski. The best part is, these videos aren't big dollar investments. Summit didn't hire professional video producers to crank out them out; they did it all themselves. And the results are effective--the videos retained a grittiness that lended them authenticity, which for the free-spirited ski and snowboard crowds, imparts more credibility than would a slick and polished video.

I invite you to view an exclusive presentation Summit Sports delivered at the Scene7 customer event. I think you'll come away that given some clever and rich content, online shopping can best the in-store experience.

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May 06, 2010

Heard at the Adobe Scene7 Customer Experience Live Event: The big picture

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We held our third annual Adobe Scene7 Customer Experience Live Event last week to great success. It was well-attended, graced by the presence of customers like Staples, Nike, Old Navy and Williams-Sonoma.

I will be sharing the learnings from our featured customer presentations in the coming weeks in a blog series, but for now, I would like to reiterate the three important trends I talked about last week that are redefining the way we compute:

• Cloud + client computing;

• Social media;

• Multi-screen

With Omniture and Scene7, Adobe has become one of the largest, leading cloud computing companies in the world. One of our goals in supporting client and cloud computing is to create a consistent runtime environment for you to build great online experiences.

While the cloud answers many computing needs, some experiences may be better off running on the client desktop, and that's where Adobe AIR comes in. With AIR applications, you can get real-time alerts while interacting with your desktop content. Scene7 supports cloud and client computing. Scene7 lives in the cloud, but we've also released a Scene7 Publishing System AIR client that allows you to drag and drop desktop content right into it and push out your content to the Scene7 cloud, making your workflow seamless.

The second trend is social media, which is characterized by both chaos and opportunity. Consumers will increasingly share your content with others, as well as contribute to them. As users augment your professionally produced content with their more homegrown iterations, how will you manage your brand integrity? These Frankenstein creations could compromise your brand equity, but at the same time, you don't want to dissuade your fans from interacting with your brand. Companies like online real estate marketplace Zillow, whose self-service home listing service relies on photos uploaded by sellers, are using Scene7 to sanitize these user-uploaded images to make them more polished and consistent.

Lastly, I would urge everyone to begin pondering a multi-screen strategy. It's not too early to think about it, given the onslaught of connected devices from tablets to gaming consoles to interactive TV. Multi-screen computing is already here, and when it's in full-swing, it will come faster than many of us are anticipating. As believers in "author once, consume everywhere," we at Adobe are committed to helping our customers deliver a consistent and rich experience across all screens, exemplified by our Open Screen Project-- The industry-wide initiative that's backed by more than 70 partners in technology and media spanning the likes of Google and NBC Universal. Customers like Columbia are already well out of the gate in mobile, using Scene7 tools to re-render the content in mobile, optimized for the medium's bandwidth limitations.

Exciting days are ahead as Adobe addresses these important trends and help you stay ahead of the curve. Stay tuned.

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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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