Merchandising with Rich Media
By Ken Burke
Increasing numbers of consumers are discovering the joys of fast broadband connections and rich media Web sites. Their expectations—and the dollar amount in their shopping carts—are on the rise. Here, we'll examine practical ways for you to take advantage of the fantastic merchandising opportunities presented by the increases in broadband adoption.
Why design for broadband? Simply put, shoppers using broadband buy more—about 10 percent to 27 percent more, according to a June 2004 study from Forrester Research. They also expect more from your Web site. Forrester indicates that broadband users view more pages, see more images, use more interactive tools, make more online transactions, and engage in more cross-channel activities. This is largely because broadband combats short attention spans by allowing animation, video, audio and interactive tools to download faster
and work better than is possible through dial-up connections. Rich media makes better selling tools, adds color and excitement, and makes the overall shopping experience far more enjoyable.
The number of broadband users is growing steadily and will continue to increase. According to Forrester Research, almost half of all U.S. homes will have a broadband connection by 2007.
The overall rate of growth in new, online shopping households is declining, and the sophistication of the competition is increasing. Merchants can no longer anticipate increased sales simply because there are more shoppers. Merchants need to design Web sites to accommodate the trend toward broadband or face constant market share erosion.
What Rich Media Capabilities are Best for Online Merchandising?
The big advantage to broadband is that it permits richer graphic design and a more interesting, interactive user experience. Through rich media, you can incorporate more images, animation, video, audio, and any number of personalized and interactive tools.
Enhanced Images for Richer Graphic Design: Online shoppers are becoming increasingly accustomed to richer pages that require more bandwidth. More frequently, merchants are designing with larger images, more images and special image enhancements like zoom, pan and spin that let their products speak for themselves. Site designers, however, must be careful to balance design so the site is still usable by dial-up users.