Boy, That’s Rich
When it comes to shopping online, fun is as important as functional, with consumers desiring streamlined processes that offer interactive features. “Instead of just delivering information [successful e-tailers] are delivering an experience,” says Joe Chung, CEO of Cambridge, Mass.-based e-commerce application provider Allurent.
With all the flashy, albeit annoying, pop-ups vying for e-consumers’ attention, smart companies are focusing instead on using rich media and rich Internet applications (RIAs) to engage potential customers, increase clickthroughs and ROI, and reduce shopping cart abandonment.
Marketers are using merchandising suites for product location, color change and product detail, configuration and catalog browsing. While not all RIAs or rich media options have specific titles because the technology still is evolving, the following are some popular formats.
• Pageless checkouts—Rich-application boxes or drop-down menus record transaction and ordering data without reloading the product description page and help streamline online transactions.
• Video customer reviews—According to Ken Burke, CEO of Petaluma, Calif.-based e-commerce technology provider MarketLive, more merchants are using video-based customer reviews. They then post the reviews to video-sharing sites like YouTube. He notes that video-based customer reviews “are much more believable since you can really see and hear the customer’s review in their voice.” Early results, he says, are showing higher conversion on products with video-based customer reviews.
• Video-casting—Similar to podcasting, some merchants are creating product-demonstration videos for their sites as well as syndicating video and then using the video-casting network it creates to drive traffic.
• Commercials on video-sharing sites—Merchants also are producing their own video content, such as product demos, commercials and how-to videos, and making them available on video-sharing sites as well as posting them to their own sites.
• Rich Internet applications—RIAs are Web applications that have features and functions similar to desktop applications. According to Wikipedia, RIAs “transfer the processing necessary for the user interface to the Web client but keep the bulk of the data on the application server.” Burke says RIAs are sweeping the Internet and provide better user interfaces, more functionality and better displays.