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June 23, 2010

Recruit Facebook Fans to Test Your Rich Media

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We like what Javis Davis is doing in social media.

In the absence of a big budget, the custom bedding specialist in Alabama is making all the right moves in Facebook, from continually delighting and engaging its fans with fresh content to soliciting direct feedback from them on its new online custom bedding design service.

Javis Davis gave Facebook users special access to its beta site introducing new functionalities that let customers design their own cribs, pillows, valances and more. Not only is the invitation a great way to engage customers, it's also tapping an invaluable source for feedback. There's not a better audience the company can ask to trial its new design configurator. After all, this group consists of valued customers and loyal fans--the same people who are most likely to use the new self-design interface and buy from the company.

If users click through, they come to a page with more fabric collections and are invited to put on their designer hats. Using the design configurator, fans can experiment with different fabrics, trying various color schemes and patterns. With one click, their creations pop up before them. The configuration tool also enables Javis Davis to design cribs on the fly using swatches from the new fabric collections and instantly share these creations with its fans. This is virtual sampling at its best!

Beyond recruiting beta-testers, the company keeps things fresh on Facebook by creating content exclusive to the social networking site. Showing off its design chops, Javis Davis posted samples of bedding designs it created in response to customer requests to match custom bedding to their unique artwork. You can't find this content on its website, which incidentally does a good job on every product category page to enable instant Facebook-sharing.

By treating fans to previews of its new fabric collections, Javis Davis both rewards them, and plants the seeds to create a viral effect. When fans click on grids of colorful swatches and custom baby beddings in Facebook, they jump to a complete ensemble of bedding featuring cribs and pillows adorned in the latest fabric collection. Presented in this manner, these ensembles beg to be shared.

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June 14, 2010

Farewell... and Thank You!

dmack2.jpgAfter more than a decade with Scene7, I have decided to take the next step in my journey and accepted a CEO position with a venture backed start-up. I would like to thank you for all your support through the years - together, we made Scene7 a core element of the eCommerce mosaic. Our team has continually innovated to help you enhance the customer experience on your sites - and you have continued to push the edge of 'the possible' with our solution in your hands.

I can honestly say Scene7 has never been stronger, providing me with great confidence for its next chapter. With the great resources of Adobe, Scene7 and our team has really thrived - dramatically expanding our solution, customer base and global footprint. In addition, Scene7 has been under the day-to-day leadership of my Scene7 co-founders for quite some time - Pete Noel and Sheila Dahlgren - so it is "business as usual" for our customers. In fact, as I sign off from "MackTalk," Pete, Sheila and their band of industry experts, will continue to provide insights, best practices and tips to help you grow your eCommerce businesses - and are re-naming this blog "ShopTalk."

As I've now spent the majority of my career working in and around eCommerce, I am excited to share that I am remaining in the industry - in fact, getting even deeper in. I'll be taking the helm for a very exciting eCommerce company back on the retail side of the aisle, and I can't wait to be a Scene7 customer. I will be sharing my destination very soon and plan to spin up a new blog about start-up life - if you'd like to keep in touch, please connect with me on Twitter:

http://twitter.com/dougmack

Thanks again - and I look forward to seeing you at the eCommerce events...

Doug Mack

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June 09, 2010

Socialize Your Rich Media to Drive Sales

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Even as every brand, big or small, tries to figure out social media, there are plenty of reasons to embrace it sooner than later. For online retailers, especially, the payoff can be great. Visitors who spend the most time on Facebook spend more in online shopping, with the top 20% spending $67 on average during the first quarter, according to online researcher comScore. Internet users who did not visit Facebook at all spent an average of $27 during the quarter. To boot, with Nielsen crowning social networking sites as the world's most popular destinations today, marketers must keep experimenting in this area.

As people spend more and more time in social media, smart etailers are creating opportunities for both fans and casual browsers to share their latest and greatest merchandise. To inspire social sharing and pass-alongs, the presentation has to be compelling. And what is more compelling than rich media?

Merchants should "switch on" their rich media assets and make it easy for anyone to post and share them in emails, blogs, Facebook and YouTube. If YouTube videos can go viral, so can any other form of rich media. Just keep in mind that viral isn't an end, but a means to build awareness and drive your traffic to consummate a purchase on your commerce site.

This year, ecommerce players will be deploying additional social and rich media tactics to improve customer experience--that's more than any other tactic including those in the areas of personalization and mobile, according to an annual Adobe Scene7 survey. In the area of rich media, interactive catalogue was the most- planned feature globally. (For more on the top planned ecommerce deployments in 2010, download the Adobe Scene7 survey).

One of the more innovative executions marrying interactive rich media and social media comes courtesy of Soft Surroundings, which targets busy women with stylish, comfortable apparel and home furnishing. With roots in the mail-order catalogue business, Soft Surroundings understands multichannel marketing. It knows that its loyal shoppers enjoy the catalogue experience, so it brought its interactive catalogue to Facebook. Shoppers can flip through each page to browse and savor the season's fabulous, richly-hued resort wear, while losing themselves in luxurious yet comfortable loungewear. If moved to buy, they can click right through to the Soft Surroundings website to complete their order.

We think Soft Surroundings' approach is a winner compared to other executions, where a Facebook 'Shop' page is often merely a collection of static images that click through to the commerce website. By presenting its offerings in a living, interactive catalogue that tells a coherent merchandising story, Soft Surroundings has gingerly landed itself at the head of the online competition.

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June 07, 2010

Is Your House Protected? How Under Armour Safeguards Its Brand

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In our third installment to unearth more learnings from the Adobe Scene7 Customer Experience Live Event, we turn our attention to Under Armour, a global manufacturer of athletic footwear, apparel and accessories.

For me, one of the takeaways from the Under Armour story is the importance of brand integrity, and how to protect it.

In just 14 years, Under Armour has become a credible player in the performance apparel and footwear business, challenging the most venerable names in the industry. Built on the back of innovative products and an aspirational brand story, Under Armour knows the value of a brand that incites passion and the importance of protecting that brand experience. As Under Armour racks up growth year after year, it continues to expand its sales channels. It has a growing direct-to-consumer business that it operates through its website and various retail outlets throughout the world. It also continues to sign up more retailers that resell its merchandise. As its sales channels expand, how does Under Armour safeguard its brand integrity to ensure consistency across all channels, throughout the world?

Under Armour has addressed this tricky area of brand management by using a solution that supports its retail partners in how they market and merchandise the company's products. It invests the time and resources to create great assets that tell the Under Armour story, then serves those assets from a single repository to all its retail partners. Whether they're video vignettes about an inspiring athlete, or a 3D rendering of a baseball cleat, these creative assets give shape to the brand and underlie Under Armour's winning merchandising story. And merchandising is a big deal for this company. Because it sells differentiated, high-performance athletic gear, many of its products are technical, so it needs to syndicate to its retail partners those smart merchandising assets that really sell the product story.

Serving creative assets from a single repository means no muddling or misuse of key assets, and also puts the marketing team on the same page with each other and the company's partners. That's especially important for a company like Under Armour that employs a deep matrix of marketers spanning retail, corporate marketing, ecommerce, and so forth. There are assigned owners for each type of content, and housing creative assets in a single-repository imposes order and reduces chaos, as what lives in the repository is the final word on what is official and sanctioned.

Brand equity takes years and decades to build, so protecting that investment should be a top priority of every brand-driven business. I encourage you to view an exclusive Adobe Scene7 webcast to get an inside look into a world-class company that deftly maintains control of its brand in the face of accelerated growth from all sides. I think you will come away enlightened. I did.

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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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