November 17, 2005, 12:00 AM

Rich media lights up, a merchandiser of candles and home decorating solutions, has revamped its site to include rich media that marry imagery and entertainment to enhance presentations., a merchandiser of candles and home decorating solutions, has revamped its site to include rich media applications that marry imagery and entertainment to enhance the presentation of its lifestyle products.

The intent of the makeover is to tell a compelling sales story that enables customers to get a better sense of how the retailer’s products will look in their home, without requiring customers to wade through blocks of visually dull copy. The company successfully used Flash applications during the recent Halloween season to show shoppers a variety of products and how they can be used to decorate the home or be packaged to create a unique gift. The retailer is doing the same during this holiday shopping season.

“This merchandising approach lets us call out the attributes of our products and show an assortment of items in a context that makes sense for the customer, whether they want decorating ideas or a gift solution,” says Clay Lingo, vice president, direct-to-consumer sales for

Until recently, the retailer resisted the idea of using Flash because of the low penetration of broadband Internet into homes. That position changed earlier this year when the retailer saw data that showed 60% of U.S. homes have broadband Internet connections. The 40% of households without broadband Internet are likely to have broadband Internet access through work and will shop online in the office.

Lingo says the return on investment in such rich media technology is several hundred percent against relatively low production costs, though he declines to be more specific. has also launched an online catalog. Visitors can open the catalog and flip through the pages as though they have it in hand. When they spot an item they want to learn more about, they can zoom in for an enlarged image. The catalog allows for single page viewing as well as thumbnails. The online catalog was seen as a way to broaden catalog distribution without increasing production costs.

Looking ahead, Lingo says will continue to add more rich media features to its web site, including its soon-to-launch Spanish language site.

“Rich media applications give online retailers more control over product presentation by showcasing merchandise in the best manner,” says Jim Okamura, senior partner with consulting firm J.C. Williams Group.

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