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November 09, 2011

Put your customers in the driver’s seat with customization

Henry Ford advocated his “one size fits all” strategy on Model T production when he said, “Any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants so long as it is black.”*

Eighty-nine years later, companies are embracing the idea that each customer is unique and deserves relevant, personalized experiences and product options. What’s driving this? We are living in what Forrester Research calls the Age of the Customer, where consumers are empowered with technology to obsess over their desires, and the successful companies obsess over those too. In this recent webinar, Forrester pairs up with Adobe customer - leading U.K. automobile manufacturer - Renault to discuss embracing customer obsession with customization and vivid digital experiences.  Renault even shares successful tactics of its own.

Product customization can be a powerful differentiator and represents an opportunity to deliver greater value, build loyalty and develop one-to-one customer relationships.

 

“Roll over, Henry Ford. Today, you can have any color you want, as long as it’s the one you want.” — James Gilmore and B. Joseph Pine II, 2000

 

*Source: Henry Ford and Samuel Crowther, My Life and Work, Garden City Publishing, 1922

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September 01, 2010

Countdown to the Holidays: 7 Tips to Spread Your Rich Media Cheer

This holiday season, be generous and spread your rich media everywhere...

As your customers shop in more channels across more devices, you need to be where they are—especially over the upcoming holiday shopping season. As you devise your game-plan for the holidays, here are some rich media tips to rev up your holiday planning.

1. Optimize your mobile site. The game-changer this holiday season is mobile. Shoppers will be using their cell phones to research, comparison-shop and browse as they navigate between the online and offline experiences. Thus, you need to engage your customers in mobile, so be sure your imagery is optimized for the small screen.

Rich, full-screen image zoom and videos are the most effective ways to browse or display products in mobile, according to a majority of the respondents in our mobile survey published in July.

2. Socialize your rich media. Social media is the other channel set to make waves this holiday season. Last year, comScore found 27% of US shoppers said social media has influenced their purchases, and this year that number should rise. Add depth and richness to your social media initiatives. We’ve seen merchants like Soft Surroundings post their online catalogue on Facebook to great effect; make your dynamic viewer sets embeddable in blogs to make your product pages go viral. Check out how Niche Modern did it.

3. Cover all the rich media bases on your PC commerce site. From full-screen imagery to zoom capabilities, dynamic rich media can deliver an all-around great online shopping experience. Offer great visualization tools from start to finish, beginning from the home page, to search-and-filtering and through checkout to support. Don’t forget to post your online catalog to help those in search of ideas. These shoppers love the product bundles or entire wardrobe ensembles to spark gift ideas. Beyond that, your site’s dynamic viewing capabilities should enhance and deepen the shoppers’ understanding of the product.

On category pages, layer on more interactive visual information, such as click-views, rollover alternative views and colorization. The key is to give shoppers as much product information as possible to give them the confidence to purchase. If they can examine the details of the bracelet, they will appreciate and understand the product craftsmanship and intricacies that much more. The more visual and textual information you can provide, the more you can also help set expectations, resulting in greater satisfaction and lower return rates. Check out our customer experience survey to learn which rich media and merchandising tactics has delivered for online retailers.

4. Enrich your online ad campaigns. Today, the challenge for marketers is to break through the noise and clutter with engaging and relevant offers and experiences so they can convert their audience into buyers. One way to do this is to increase the relevance of your online ads and promotions with a customized, dynamic experience. From animated banners to video ads, connect with your audience using rich media, and don’t forget to tie your offers to CRM to deliver the relevant content to the right audience at the right time. Personalizing ads with relevant information related to geography or weather can also score big points

5. Use videos to convert. Shoppers love online videos, and their popularity continues to grow. That’s good news for retailers because video’s persuasive powers are indisputable—conversion improvements can be as high as 140% after shoppers view a product video, according to data from our customers. Moreover, video can help to close the gap between the touch-and-feel store experience and the web. So, let online videos tell your product stories: Use them for product reviews, demonstrations and merchandising. Get our eVideo paper to learn more best practices.

6. Invite user generated content. The voice of real customers lends credibility and authenticity to your brand like nothing else. With 64% of social media users somewhat or completely trusting blog posts by people they know, compared to 36% for posts by a brand, the path to building trust in your brand should involve actual customers. So, invite your customers to share their experiences with videos or pictures.

7. Let shoppers have fun creating a one-of-a-kind gift. One of the hottest trends in retail continues to be the growing trend of co-creation or mass customization—letting customers design and customize their consumables using online product configurators. These intuitive visualization tools guide users through each design decision, allowing shoppers to see what they’re getting before the product is made. They create a memorable experience for the buyer and one-of-a-kind gifts for the receiver. To learn more about product configurators, download our paper.

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[1] Invoke Solutions study, as cited by eMarketer, July 29, 2010

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July 28, 2010

Can Every e-Business Use the Visual Configurator? We think so.

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You don't have to be a seller of custom goods to use the visual configurator. Yes, these online visual configuration tools are popular with businesses that offer user-designed custom goods, because they allow customers to see photorealistic images of a product as it's being configured in real-time.

But visual configurators also have compelling back-office applications that any business would find useful. For example, employees can use the configurator to personalize and order their business cards. Salespeople can use the configurator to tailor their presentations, eCatalogues, product data sheets and other selling tools. They can layer the prospect's logos on a product, enter their direct contact information, and select the appropriate content options that make their pitch more relevant and compelling. The configurator could also guide the user's content selection by stating the ideal business conditions for each option.

Retailers can use the configurator to localize their signages and in-store displays using pre-approved online marketing templates. Chain operators can protect brand integrity by providing their local stores with corporate-approved templates and assets, using the visual configurator as the online interface to specify content and promotions suitable for their local retail audience.

The scope of visual configurator's commercial application is also broad. From monogrammed wine glasses to custom-built bicycles, the visual configurator can serve up accurate renderings of how the user-designed or personalized product will appear at delivery, alleviating buyer anxieties and reducing the risk of buyer's remorse. As an engagement tool, visual configurators are also compelling; increasing numbers of manufacturers are using them to enrich their online experience and to drive foot traffic to their dealers and retail outlets. By enabling a fun and immersive design experience, visual configurators are sure to guarantee deep interaction with the product and the brand.

To learn more about the multi-faceted visual configurator, download Adobe Scene7's new white paper, Visual Configurator: The Killer App for Mass Customization.

Lastly, tell us how you're using the online visual configurator in your business.

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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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