December 26, 2000, 9:55 AM

Picture this: E-retailers aim to zoom, spin and model their way to higher sales

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-What will it cost? Pricing models vary greatly. Some providers of advanced imaging functionality sell core technologies that can be developed and integrated onto a site by the retailer if the necessary expertise exists in-house. Some deliver a complete solution, including technology and integration, even working with a retailer’s existing multimedia supplier. Still others deliver a complete technology and integration solution, wrapped in a compre-hensive marketing package. In general, pricing models are based on a fixed licensing fee that can range anywhere from $5,000 to hundreds of thousands of dollars, plus a variable per-product charge.

-User connections? If most customers visit the site through slower dial-up connections, retailers might want to think carefully before adding anything that would slow down the shopping experience. The challenge for those providing advanced product images now is to deliver a shopping experience that offers something to both sets of customers with slower connections and those shoppers who already have high-speed access.

-What is the product mix? It’s doubtful that rotating, say, a box of diapers will pump up sales, and online purveyors of “flat” objects such as books and CDs don’t need
to spin them to sell them.

As retailers wrestle with the opportunities and pitfalls of the new viewing technologies, they might consider one last point: the landscape today will change significantly tomorrow. And at Internet speeds, that’s not far off.

“I’m not convinced that 3D rendering and zoom drive sales today. But I do believe they’ll become a critical driver of sales in the future,” says Cassar. “Those that are aggressively pursuing these technologies today are going to be in much better shape than everyone else when the market catches up with them.”

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