June 14, 2005, 12:00 AM

How better content management helps Benchmark Brands generate more sales

More effective content management will help Benchmark increase web sales by 60% in 2005 as the e-retailer utilizes new technology from Scene7 which lets shoppers zoom in on particular products and click on color swatches for a closer look.

Benchmark Brands Inc., which operates FootSmart.com, is making several changes to its internal content management system to give shoppers a more personalized shopping experience.

The result is helping Benchmark, which sells shoes and hosiery in nearly a dozen online merchandising categories such as specialty or therapeutic socks and hosiery, increase its online sales in 2005 by as much as 60%, says Karen Stern, director of Internet marketing. In 2004, the web generated sales of more than $17 million for Benchmark, a privately held catalog and e-commerce company headquartered in Norcross, GA.

The company is expecting its content management program to help increase sales and visitor traffic, which today numbers about 100,000 visitors per month, because of new upgrades such as technology from Scene7 Inc. which lets shoppers zoom in on particular products and click on color swatches.

FootSmart.com also recently added a “Buy this Product” box to the home page that gives customers more access to content such as shopping by size, width and color. Over time Benchmark has built and upgraded a content management system that is linked directly to the company’s various product databases and back-end applications.

The result is a content management system that gives marketing and merchandising managers more control and makes it easier to make text and image changes to reflect changing shopping behavior. “When we launched the site in 1998 the priority was content that gave shoppers a lot of information about the brands so that visitors would know that we knew our products and our space,” says Stern. “Now we use information and content management to get customers closer to the sale.”

In the healthcare products space, customers expect lots of educational content, which is a prime reason Benchmark surrounds its 1,000 product pages with additional content such as application treatment tips and links to related merchandise.

In the works over the next year are additional enhancements that include using more analytics to spot buyer behavior and then making faster content adjustments to attract and retain shoppers.

“Over time our content management system has become more dynamic,” Stern says. “Better content management has helped us reduce returns because our customers can now read more product information and see details of the merchandise up close.”

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