December 26, 2000, 9:55 AM

Heating up the cool factor

By Nicole Grasse, T.J. Becker

Editor in Chief

At SharperImage.com, cool is consistent, a driving force behind its 3-D viewer and other merchandising gimmicks.

While some Web sites misapply technology, Sharper Image’s use of rich media “adds a coolness factor” that is consistent with the brand, says IXL’s Duif Calvin. Added last February, the 3-D feature allows shoppers to view certain products from a variety of angles and even try out some features. This fall the retailer followed up with an online listening station for its CD selections.

“Sharper Image is the closest you’re going to get to a male-oriented recreational shopping experience,” says Calvin. When it comes to shopping, she explains, men are usually on a mission-even online. Yet Sharper Image’s merchandising tactics might slow them down to browsing speed.

Since 3-D formatting was implemented, page view has escalated 300%, says Meredith Medland, director of Sharper Image’s Internet division. What’s more, there’s been a 50% increase in time spent on products rendered in 3-D.

Once pigeon-holed as the place to shop for the person who has everything, Sharper Image is using the Internet to broaden its scope and attract new customers. With that in mind, an online auction site debuted in March. Confident that online business will keep building, Sharper Image recently co-located the two sites, a move to gear up for busy holiday traffic.

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