May 26, 2011, 11:04 AM

Chefs Catalog cooks up a better e-commerce site with richer product images

Foodies and other shoppers can zoom into images and link to recipes.

Thad Rueter

Senior Editor

Lead Photo

Chefs Catalog, an online retailer of kitchenware, wants its web site to tantalize food enthusiasts, amateur cooks and other shoppers.

That’s why, in the run-up to Memorial Day, the home page of the retailer’s e-commerce site features a small outdoor grill with two thick steaks sizzling over the fire—and an imaging feature on the product detail pages that enables a consumer using his mouse to rollover and zoom into that image to see such fine details as the browned skin of the accompanying red and green peppers. The site used the same approach prior to Thanksgiving when it showcased a juicy turkey sitting in a roaster.

The imaging tool, using technology provided by Fluid Inc., provides the close-up shot of the product in a box to the right of the main product image. That way, the full product image always remains in full view in a box on the left side of the page, serving as an anchor for the shopper. Chefs Catalog wanted to offer consumers rich imagery without cluttering the page or making consumers feel as though they were lost.

The e-commerce site also offers links to recipes that consumers can use on specific cookware products; for instance, a baking stone for pizza links to a recipe for grilled pizza.

The imaging tool has helped Chefs Catalog keep pace with such competitors as Williams-Sonoma and Sur La Table, and also maintain its high level of customer satisfaction, says Tim Littleton, the retailer’s CEO and president. He says the new site has helped Chefs Catalog rank high in ForeSee Results’ surveys that measure consumer satisfaction with online retail sites. ChefsCatalog.com is No. 317 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide.

“Our customer satisfaction index is very positive," he says. "We feel the investment will pay off, and to a great extent, it already has." He says the imaging tool has helped increase the number of repeat purchases on the site, but he gave no further details.

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