August 25, 2005, 12:00 AM

Broadband sparks web site enhancements, increasing focus on reliability

Retailers’ interest in enhancing the content and functionality of their web sites has grown markedly since the beginning of this year—and that raises challenges for ensuring that web site performance stays at a high level.

 

Retailers’ interest in enhancing the content and functionality of their web sites has grown markedly since the beginning of this year-and that raises challenges for ensuring that web site performance stays at a high level, John Rozen, chief operating officer of Mirror Image Internet Inc., a provider of content delivery solutions for online merchants, tells Internet Retailer.

The wide installation of broadband Internet access in the home is driving retailers’ new interest in rich media and other high-level site enhancements, he says. More than 50% of homes access the Internet through a broadband connection and that’s opening up the possibilities for-and greater retailer interest in-such enhancements as zoom, pan and demo videos.

While retailers tried those kinds of enhancements four or five years ago, the market wasn’t ready for them. “The timing was wrong in the past,” Rozen says. “We saw a movement toward greater interest in web site enhancements starting around the beginning of this year and already most retailers are building their sites with the broadband Internet user in mind. The previous efforts were premature, but now the market has caught up with the retailers.”

As a result, retailers are looking for more robust servers and delivery options-but many still aren’t sure they want to invest in them. “The trick is to find the right technologies to use, and to distribute the applications closer to the end user,” Rozen says. “Most retailers don’t want to build the infrastructure needed for that.”

Providers such as Mirror Image offer support for rich media applications such as Windows Media Player 9, Macromedia Flash, On2 Technologies’ video compression applications and Scene7’s e-catalog applications. Mirror Image also provides an extensible rules engine that allows a retailer to set rules about which users will get which content, based on such criteria as time of day, location of the end user and even the user’s browser speed (dial-up vs. broadband).

 

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