Forrester’s Ron Rogowski on Rich Applications
With household broadband access on the increase, more consumers can view rich applications, enhancing the user experience and bringing the widespread adoption of Web 2.0 full circle. By implementing tools such as pageless shopping carts, video demonstrations and 360-degree product views, marketers can further improve the functionality of their sites and encourage repeat visits. This week, TM Tipline caught up with Ron Rogowski, principal analyst at Cambridge, Mass.-based Forrester Research, to share his perspective on current rich Internet applications (RIA) and rich media trends and future developments.
Target Marketing: What is driving the trend to use more rich applications on e-commerce sites?
Ron Rogowski: There certainly is a higher broadband penetration than in the past; we are over the 50 percent mark of households in North America. The fact that more people can access video with broadband is one major driver. Also, the lines between home and work are very blurred, even people who may not have fast connections at home have them at work. People are also working longer hours and working on airplanes, the major driver is the overall access to broadband and the acceptance of Web 2.0.
TM: What problems do rich applications, such as pageless shopping carts, video product demonstrations and 360-degree product views, solve?
RR: Basically, it’s control. Users prefer to directly manipulate things on the screen. For example, a 360-degree view or a rich application box that allows you to manipulate the interior of the car to add and remove elements, [provides] the ability to make changes without loosing data [or having to reload the page.] The second aspect is immediate feedback. For example, on Gap.com there is a window that says, “You have added this item to your cart,” as you are shopping.
TM: What do you see as the future of rich media?
RR: There is potential in a lot of places, such as the travel industry, where there is tremendous potential for reservation engines and [improving] merchandise options. Travel companies could get ahead and have more people converting online by including rich applications to expose what they have to offer. About 43 percent of people who book hotels or travel online call the company afterwards to ask a question or to confirm. In the future, we will see online applications that better illustrate the amenities travel agencies and resorts have to offer.