June 12, 2008, 12:00 AM

Desktop widgets engage customers where customers electronically live

E-retailers can use the little applications to shoot promotions and coupons over to the desktops of Internet users to better engage their customers, a Forrester Research analyst says.

Desktop widgets are little applications that so far have a small user base. The applications send information in real time to a contained visual area that resides on a user`s desktop. But just because relatively few Internet users have adopted widgets to date does not mean the applications cannot be of use to e-retailers, Brian Walker, senior analyst at Forrester Research Inc., said at the Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition this week.

"A widget is a tool e-retailers can use to keep in touch with their most frequent and passionate customers," Walker said. He spoke during a session titled "The Big Power of Little Widgets." "And Internet users who use widgets use them a lot."

Retailers can use desktop widgets to get important information-information shoppers want by virtue of downloading a widget in the first place-directly to where shoppers most frequently reside, Walker said. Promotions, special offers, pricing changes and coupons are among the best content retailers can deliver to a shopper`s desktop via a widget, he added.

"Desktop widgets are a great way to extend your brand presence," Walker said, "and a great tool to engage a focused group of your customer base every day."

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