The gift concierge service that uses artificial intelligence is part of 1-800-Flowers’ technology and service strategy.
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The champagne roundtable discussion groups, held at the end of the second day, provide another opportunity for participants to meet the presenters on a one-to-one basis. Meeting informally, conference attendees and presenters will discuss what they’ve learned during the day, exchange views on controversial issues and brainstorm on new ideas and strategies to implement at home. Participants will choose from individual roundtable topics, hosted concurrently by all of the conference speakers, which correspond with each speaker’s conference presentation.
A pre-conference technology workshop on July 31 offers two consecutive tracks. The morning’s workshop, “Bring Life to Your Merchandise, Profits to Your Organization and Loyal, Satisfied Customers to Your Business: An In-Depth Look at the Impacts of Online Merchandising,” will offer case studies on the online experience of retailers from Eddie Bauer to Godiva Chocolates. Hosted by Chris Johnston, vice president of product marketing at technology provider Viewpoint, a conference co-sponsor, it will show how implementing advanced technology can spur sales and improve the customer experience and how to measure results. The afternoon’s workshop, “An Assessment and Improvement Plan for Web Operations of a Hypothetical Leading E-Retailer” will be hosted by Bo Lasater, founder and vice president of strategy at technology developer Totality, a conference co-sponsor. Participants will create, analyze and evaluate a fictional retailer, using the exercise to explore the technical issues and objectives that challenge e-retailers in the real world. The group will examine in-depth technology cost assessments and a comparison of outsourcing vs. in-house alternatives to demonstrate the costs and benefits of different technology solutions.
The retailers on
The first day of eTail 2001 will feature speakers from top
e-retail companies such as David Lauren, chief creative and marketing
officer, Ralph Lauren Media and Polo.com; Dan Korn, executive vice president,
Neiman Marcus Online; Dennis Bowman, senior vice president and chief
information officer, Circuit City Stores; Gene Domecus, senior vice president
e-commerce, Macys.com; Cathy David, general manager, Target.com; Julie
Bornstein, general manager, Nordstrom.com; Monica Luechtefeld, executive
vice president, e-commerce, Office Depot; Ann Acierno, senior vice president
and general manager, Estee Lauder Cos. Online; Gene Rosadino, president
of Direct and senior vice president of Supply Chain, Zany Brainy; and Melanie
Angermann, vice president of marketing, JCPenney.com.
Day Two will feature retail industry speakers including Bill Bass,
senior vice president e-commerce and international, Lands’ End; Susan Harvey,
senior vice president and managing director, Bloomingdales.com; Dennis Honan,
vice president and general manager customer direct, Sears, Roebuck and Co.;
John Barbour, CEO, Toysrus.com; Ken Weil, vice president of new
media, Victoria’s Secret; David Towers, director, customer experience
for e-commerce, J. Crew; and Barry Judge, vice president of marketing/e-publishing,
zoom technology helps re-create the
real-world shopping experience online
The early advocates of Internet retailing believed
in the power of the web: Put it up and consumers will buy it. The convenience,
to their minds, was where the value lay.
They were right about the convenience-it’s one of the major sells about Internet shopping. But it’s not all. Internet retailing has become more about retailing and less about the Internet. And that has meant that product presentation and increasing customers’ confidence that they are making the right product choices have become more important.
Thus many vendors have introduced 3-D, zoom and other rich-media technologies
to help customers make those choices. The benefits that retailers derive from
such systems are not just increased sales-although that’s where they see the
return most immediately-but also in fewer product returns and fewer calls to
customer service from buyers who can’t figure out how a product works or how
to assemble a product. “The benefits are twofold,” says Chris Johnston, vice
president of product marketing for New York City-based Viewpoint
Corp., which produces 3-D and zoom technology for retailers and manufacturers
selling on the web. “The benefit you get from creating the content is a four-
or five-times multiple on the investment from what you get now in terms of sales.
And on top of that you’ll see reduced costs in returned products and in calls
to your customer call center.”
In June, Viewpoint introduced its ZoomView technology. It debuted at EddieBauer.com. It is getting ready now to introduce the technology on a major bricks-and-mortar retailer’s site. That merchant will use the technology to highlight high-priced products as well as products it doesn’t sell in its stores.
Redeploy existing photography
ZoomView technology allows retailers to deploy the high-resolution photos they use for their catalogs and other print marketing on the web to provide a high level of detail to customers. Customers zoom in on the particular area of the product about which they would like to see more detail, and the ZoomView technology amplifies just that area and downloads it to the user’s browser in a compressed format.
ZoomView “tiles” and compresses the photos for speedy download. A high-resolution photo itself can require 10-30MB, so simply enlarging the photo for customers to view details is not feasible because it would require too much bandwidth. Thus ZoomView detects the specific area that a browser is zeroing in on, breaks that particular section into an enlarged view, which is what tiling is, then feeds just that view to the customer. It goes through a similar process when customers zoom in on other portions of the product. Dividing the image into tiles, then compressing those tiles reduces each image to 5-15K, Johnston says.
In addition, Viewpoint has created a program to combine the zoomed product photo with Macromedia Inc.’s Flash technology to create an image in which dialogue balloons materialize to point out features to the viewer. For instance, if a customer is viewing a video camera and wants to see if it has a fade-to-black button, that customer can zoom into that portion of the camera. Not only will the customer be able to read the words on the fade-to-black button itself, but a balloon will pop up highlighting the fade-to-black feature. “This allows a very specific presentation of a product to the consumer,” Johnston says.