December 27, 2006, 12:00 AM

Avenue A/Razorfish developing online tools to target powershoppers

High-volume professional buyers shop retail sites, too. Avenue A/Razorfish is working with a client to serve up an online shopping experience geared to the needs of professional chefs.

Ajax and Ajax-like technologies are giving web developers and designers the ability to create new tools that enrich and improve the online shopping experience for different customer segments. Among them, Aquantive’s Avenue A/Razorfish is using the technology to develop a shopping tool specifically for one of retail’s most sought-after customer segments: the powershopper, according to Garrick Schmitt, head of the user experience at the interactive agency.

A retailer client in the cooking category that noticed a number of its customers were buying frequently and in high multiples realized that professional chefs also were buying on its site, he says. But unlike the home cook, a consumer more likely to be romanced into buying a product by beauty shots or lifestyle content, these power shoppers already know the value proposition of what they are buying, want to buy it quickly, and get out, a fact well-understood by retailers. “They may be restocking and need to place an order for seven to 10 items, in multiple quantities, and they need to do that in an efficient process,” says Schmitt.

Schmitt and his team are working with Microsoft’s rich media Internet application platform to build a tool that lets high-volume buyers select multiple categories, slide volume up or down, and see pricing and shipping information in real time without having to refresh the browser. It’s a concept that also has a broader potential application for professional buyers in other industries, such as interior design, for example, who purchase from B2C retail sites, he adds.

“We are leveraging our work on the B2B side in terms of a procurement tool and looking at how that applies to a consumer space,” he says. “You can see where this exists across other customer segments where power buyers are hamstrung by the traditional product catalog. “We’re looking at ways to blow that open and make it much more efficient for the professional. There is a real desire to look at that high-value segment of the marketplace in a new way.”

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