December 28, 2001, 12:00 AM

Some surprising results for video display at EddieBauer.com

Once thought suitable only for high-priced, complex products, video product presentation made its debut late last year on EddieBauer.com. And guess what—it’s selling product as low-priced as $18.

Once thought suitable only for high-priced, complex products, video product presentation made its debut late last year on EddieBauer.com, the clothing and accessories site of the Spiegel Group. And guess what-it’s selling product as low-priced as $18.

“Conversion rates of customers associated with the videos are very strong,” says Brian Walker, manager of business development at EddieBauer.com. That said, Eddie Bauer is still evaluating the effectiveness of video as a marketing tool and has no hard figures yet. But Walker adds: “We’re very pleased with it.”

Known for its willingness to test new presentation technologies online, EddieBauer.com has pushed online sales technology another step forward by creating video presentation for two dozen men’s, women’s and home products in its gift section.

EddieBauer.com is using video technology from Vendaria Inc., which detects how the customer is connecting to the web and which media player and browser the customer has. The Vendaria technology then delivers the video in the appropriate format. Eddie Bauer particularly likes that the technology decision is taken out of the hands of the customer. “Whenever the customers have to make the choice, they may make the wrong decision or they may become frustrated,” Walker says.

Making sure that as many Internet users as possible can view a video is a key goal for Vendaria, says Scott Ferris, CEO of Vendaria. “We’ve cracked the code for the least common denominator of Internet customer,” he says.

While online retailers have believed that high-tech product presentations generally suit themselves best to high-ticket items, Eddie Bauer is testing the technology across a range of products and prices, from a $298 leather jacket to an $18 snow globe. “We chose a wide spectrum of products so we could gather some learning as to how customers might benefit from using this technology,” Walker says.

The Eddie Bauer presentations come in two formats, so customers with higher speed connections get a more sophisticated video while those with lower speed connections get a video that doesn’t take forever to download. “Even customers at a 28.8 connection will see something,” Walker says.

Vendaria has produced videos for manufacturers that play on retail sites. From that experience, Ferris says, Vendaria has determined that the conversion rate of video viewers is 4 to 8 times the normal conversion rate at web sites. Vendaria hosts the videos and charges 24 cents or less per viewing session. Ferris says videos cost about $2,000 to produce.

Walker says the technology fits into the Eddie Bauer online merchandising philosophy and is not just some cool new toy. “We have a long-standing philosophy that we want to make the technology work for the product and the customer,” he says. “We’re using this to feature the product and help the customer make the buying decision. We have high hopes that will be a very effective online selling tool.”

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