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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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August 05, 2010

How Far "Embed" Will you Go with your Media?

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Niche Modern wants to go far with all kinds of media--rich, social, earned. No wonder-- whenever the lighting designer and manufacturer gets published mentions by fans, bloggers, or trade journalists, its site traffic inevitably spikes. That's big for a small start-up like Niche Modern, which has limited marketing budget.

With an eye to courting bloggers and journalists, Niche Modern makes it easy and compelling for publishers to showcase its visually stunning lighting products.

Niche Modern provides third-party publishers with code that allows them to embed a dynamic viewing experience of its content directly on their sites. For example, Better Living Through Design embedded this Niche Modern mixed media viewer on its blog to great result.

Thus, blog visitors not only see Niche Modern's entire product image set, as intended, but they can zoom and pan on each lighting product, plus, see alternative, in-context images of the lighting wonders applied to a variety of setting, from open kitchens to intimate dining rooms. There's also a slider mechanism that users can click to see the full range of the product thumbnails.

What's great about the embed feature is it reduces the risk of bloggers mucking up the brand, as the entire Niche Modern branded experience is seamlessly lifted to a third-party site. This means Niche Modern can extend to any site the up-market positioning it has worked hard to build, ensuring their products are showcased in their best light with all the viewing tools that spur prolonged gazing, admiration and engagement.

The benefits add up quickly: The more sites that are linking to Niche Modern, the higher its search rankings will become.

The other big win of course is that businesses with few marketing dollars no longer have to pay loads of money to build awareness. Imagine how much Niche Modern would have had to spend to get the same number of people to pay attention through advertising, versus reaching them through blogs and other social media outlets.

Read more about Niche Modern.

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March 15, 2010

No Bumps in Burton's Customer Experience

There is no doubt that improving customer experience is a priority or at least a planned initiative for most eCommerce professionals as their online shoppers continue to demand end-to-end engaging experiences that make it easier, more informative, and more visually appealing when browsing online.

Leading retailers are employing rich Internet applications because they have been known to improve the user experience. According to Forrester Research Inc.'s February 2010 report, "The Future of Online Customer Experience," 69% of US online consumers prefer rich interactions. When it comes to converting browsers to buyers, it is important to deliver rich, relevant interactive experiences that leverage high-quality content. The ideal experience includes full-screen product images and videos presented using rich interfaces, that both empower and guide shoppers to visually compare, customize, and share their preferences and experiences with their community.

One Scene7 customer that has embraced the concept of delivering a rich customer experience is Burton Snowboards (www.Burton.com). Burton's website takes full-screen viewing to the next level, enabling eager shoppers to click on a product of interest and populate the entire screen with images of that product. Clicking to zoom reveals deeper levels of detail, and mousing over the images to dynamically pan moves the product up, down, and side to side, as well as displays the gallery of alternate views and delivers an incredibly realistic view that might otherwise only come from an in-store shopping experience!

Learn more about how to improve your customers' experience on your site. Download our customer experience whitepaper.


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February 10, 2010

From Shoes to Shirts, Bigger is Always Better

Last week we revealed the importance of minimizing the number of clicks shoppers have to endure to get to their desired product. This week, we'd like to stress the importance of delivering a full-screen viewing experience to your customers to get them one step closer to a purchase decision. From television sets to movie screens, the trend today clearly illustrates that people want more visual stimulation. This trend is just as prevalent online. Consumers are looking for that same "larger than life" experience in their online shopping and when they don't get it, they look for it somewhere else.

In our recently conducted viewer study, entitled "What Shoppers Want", we discovered that across the board, in each age bracket and across both genders, shoppers want to be provided as much visual information in as large a viewing format as possible. People appreciate the ability to interactively zoom to deeper detail levels in order to truly examine products, and full-screen viewing with interactive zoom and pan is the preferred format because it enables even better examination of products.

One Scene7 customer that has embraced this concept "to the extreme" is Nike. Nike's website takes full-screen viewing to the nth degree, enabling eager shoppers to click on a product of interest and populate the entire screen with images of that product. Clicking to zoom reveals deeper levels of detail, and the small guide in the upper right corner of the screen enables full-screen dynamic pan and zoom, revealing the product details and delivering an incredibly realistic view that might otherwise only come from an in-store shopping experience!

Learn more about the merchandising tricks that will turn your browsers into buyers. Download the report.

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February 03, 2010

No-Click Tricks to Better Merchandising

In our recently conducted viewer study, entitled "What Shoppers Want", we were able to identify best practices for online visual merchandising that validate current eCommerce trends.

In a nutshell? Shoppers want an easy, quick way to browse--with as few clicks and as little scrolling as possible when searching for the right product. But when making a purchase (to really add to cart), all shoppers want to be provided as much visual information in as large a viewing format as possible--including interactive zoom that enables shoppers to dynamically pan and zoom to deeper levels of details. Offering fly-over, click-driven browsing combined with full-screen interactive zoom is the ideal best practice.

One Scene7 customer who does a particularly good job at following these best practices is Halfords, a leading retailer of car parts, car enhancements and bicycles operating out of the United Kingdom.

Halfords delivers detailed product descriptions complete with alternate images (front, back and sides of product). Users can click on any of the images and then by just moving their mouse curser over the main image, another image automatically "flies out" with a single level of zoom to reveal a closer look at the product -- without clicking. To take an even deeper look, users can click on the "View Larger" button to view a separate product window that delivers even greater zoom levels of detail, where users can interactively examine more and more details on any area of the image.

For more about this study, download the report.

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January 14, 2010

What Shoppers Want: Survey Reveals Vitals on the Viewing Experience

New Report

As online retailers face more and more competition and challenges converting visitors on their sites, it is becoming increasingly important for e-tailers to optimize their online visual merchandising to engage customers and entice them to buy. So to truly understand what shoppers want, we conducted a quantitative, consumer-facing study to identify and analyze eCommerce shopping features that are most useful for shoppers making an online purchase.

Three hundred people, both male and female, across three different age groups (18-29, 30-49, 50-64) were surveyed. These individuals were categorized as "medium to heavy online shoppers", residing in North America, that had both researched and purchased a product online in the last 12 months and spent at least $500 shopping online throughout the year. To best simulate a true online shopping experience and identify the shopping features that consumers find most critical for making a purchase decision, specific interactive shopping scenarios for men and women (identically formatted but with gender-specific imagery to which participants could best relate) were created, and participants were asked 15 key questions regarding shopping viewing preferences.

The results offer businesses valuable insights for designing the ideal viewer or visual merchandising experiences to improve conversions. Interestingly, many recommendations we have been making to our customers over the past several years were validated by the findings of this consumer research. Across the board in each age bracket and across both genders, shoppers want an easy, quick way to browse--validating the "web design 101 rule" of eliminating as many clicks and scrolling as possible. In addition, all shoppers want to be provided as much visual information in as large a viewing format as possible--including interactive zoom that allows shoppers to dynamically pan and zoom to deeper levels of details--leading to another well known rule, "bigger is better." As the study found, the two concepts go hand in hand; even in a full-screen view, shoppers still expected browsing to be quick and easy but also offer multiple levels of detail. And finally, the results pointed to the importance of offering as many images as possible (all colors and all views) with rich details--ideally featuring all sides of a product, creating a full 360-degree spin. Combining robust imagery with customer reviews/comments has shown to be the ultimate, preferred experience.

This research is both validating and insightful. Download the complete report, "Adobe Scene7 Viewer Study: What Shoppers Want" and learn how you can turn browsers into buyers. Download survey results here and let us know what you think.

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September 30, 2009

Combine your dynamic content to drive a richer customer experience (and sell product)

If you want to move merchandise, just showing customers a picture of a product isn't enough. Gone are the days where heavy copy and small imagery moves the needle. Now, displaying a combination of dynamically served product images including alternative views or full 360-degree spin (leveraging interactive zoom and pan) and product video tells the whole story. After all, dynamic zoom and pan enables users to interactively examine a product in detail, 360-degree spin creates an in-store experience, emulating the process of picking up and examining the merchandise, and video completes the story, replacing the in-store clerk, and demonstrating in perfect clarity the product features and benefits--on demand (no waiting for the clerk to finish up with another patron first!). And the ability of video to educate, inform, and show off products in all their glory has proven again and again to complement the product images and details.

The perfect execution leverages an "integrated viewer or player" that serves any type of rich dynamic content (high resolution sets of images including colors, lifestyle and alternative angles for zooming and panning, sets of videos or both). A user must be able to clearly understand which type of content he/she is viewing, as well as have the ability to easily toggle back and forth between each dynamic content type. That is why in the latest Adobe Scene7 release, mixed media viewers have been added as they enable even "non-technical" users to upload, build, publish and serve integrated combinations of videos, images (color and multiple views), SWFs, spin sets and audio.

Titanium Jewelry is a great example of a site that leverages product imagery alongside product video for the ultimate online shopping experience. Customers can see jewelry in as much detail as they might within a retail environment, and the video brings the piece to life - showing every angle of an item of interest.


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Field & Stream is another strong example of a site that integrates product photography stills with product video in a tray viewing format for easy access to expanded product detail. Shoppers can toggle between product shots (hero and lifestyle) and video for an end-to-end overview of the desired merchandise. Field & Stream worked with Circumerro Media, its interactive agency to enable the dynamic media display using Scene7.


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July 28, 2009

Delve Into the Details with Guided Zoom

An online shopper clicking on zoom is the equivalent of an in-store shopper picking up an item to take a closer look. That's generally when a sales associate steps in to offer assistance, point out key features, and basically helps to guide the shopping experience. You can accomplish a very similar scenario on your website by adding zoom targets to your product's images and incorporating text tips as well. Here are some great examples:

TravelSmith
This site uses large thumbnail images in its viewer to recommend specific areas on the larger image where shoppers can zoom to see specific product details.

ExOfficio
In a pop-up zoom viewer, this site adds merchandising copy beneath each thumbnail target to describe a feature, giving the user more information prior to clicking on any target.

Telescope.com
This site incorporates a similar approach as the first two mentioned above, but with an embedded zoom viewer. Also, the thumbnails and text appear as an overlay directly onto the product image itself.

Zoom targets with rollover text can be especially helpful when trying to point out multiple products in a single lifestyle shot. For example:

Liberty Hardware
This site uses one single image to point out items in the collection such as the towel holder, towel ring, robe hook, and toilet paper holder. Rollover text indicates each specific SKU number. Shoppers can also interactively pan the entire image themselves by simply moving the image with their mouse and clicking on the zoom controls. This is a great way to use lifestyle room scenes that show off each fixture in a collection.

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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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April 23, 2009

Up, down, turn around, with 360-degree spin

When customers explore your product at retail, they touch it, turn it, and examine it closely from every angle. Why not provide the same experience to online shoppers? With 360-degree spin, you can do that and more. Multiple, detailed images can be integrated into a viewer to provide a seamless spinning view of your product. Shoppers can zoom to view high-resolution images for ultimate detail. And, best of all, you can use “hot spots” to point out special features or guide shoppers to product details related to specific angles – as if a sales representative were right there with them viewing the product!

DSW.com is a great example of a site using 360-degree spin effectively. They display nearly every shoe using this dynamic technology, offering automatic as well as manual spin so that shoppers can experience the full range of interactivity. In addition to viewing shoes on the product page in an embedded view, shoppers can launch a full screen and a larger view to see the product in even greater detail – including the top, sole, and all sides of the shoe.



Another great example is UnderArmour.com because spin is integrated with the rest of the dynamic viewing – including alternative views, colors, and hot spots for technical specifications – in an embedded full page product view.


Click here if you are interested in learning more about Adobe Scene7 and applying 360-degree spin on your site.

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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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