95% of the orders at Hallmark Business Connections are processed online, CEO Tressa Angell says.
Applications from Adobe, Allurent and Scene7 promise to transform the Internet buying experience
In spite of all the things consumers can do online, the Internet is still a pretty linear experience. Users click on a link and it takes them to a page. If they’ve gone to the wrong place, they click their Back button. And the procedure is the same at all web sites. “When you go to a retail web site, you’re not getting a uniquely great experience,” says Doug Mack, CEO of Scene7 Inc. “Retailers basically took the print catalog paradigm and moved it to the web in a slightly different way.”
But Scene7, Allurent Inc. and Adobe Systems Inc., are hoping to change that-soon. The three companies have partnered to continue the drive toward a better shopping experience. Scene7 and Allurent have complementary applications built using Adobe’s rich media products that enable retailers to provide an extraordinary experience that is more like shopping in a store than paging through a catalog. “In two to three years, shopping on the web won’t look anything like it does today,” predicts Joe Chung, CEO of Allurent and co-founder of ATG.
The aim of the partnership is not only to create a better experience for consumers but also to create better marketing and merchandising opportunities for retailers. “This will provide a better way for retailers to cross-sell and upsell,” says Sydney Sloan, group manager of Flex and Cold Fusion product marketing for Adobe.
Scene7’s On-Demand Rich Media platform and Allurent’s BUY take advantage of Adobe’s development platforms, including Macromedia Flex & Flash, to change the paradigm of today’s html-driven web-sites. Their solutions allow shoppers to elegantly navigate the store, narrow their choices, view product details and efficiently check out without the click-and-wait experience of current online stores.
Divide and conquer
The applications work by dividing content between the retailer’s servers and the consumer’s browser, allowing information a consumer is viewing to change faster than if all data was coming from the retailer’s server and to deliver richer, more meaningful content to the consumer. Thus, when a customer views a group of items-for instance, home furnishings in a home setting-data about the most popular items would load into her browser as soon as she hit the page. When she clicks on an item, rather than going to a new page, the item will display in a box that opens, with all relevant data, including, for instance, dimensions, price and availability.
This process not only presents information more quickly to consumers, but also allows consumers to view more products and data, which increases their confidence that they’ve seen all options, making them more likely to buy. “In today’s online shopping world, information is revealed later in the process,” Mack says. “Your confidence that you saw all relevant products is low. This takes care of that issue.”
The pageless checkout
The three companies’ offerings extend beyond product display to the shopping cart. Using Allurent’s pageless checkout, consumers can complete a purchase without having to enter information on 5 to 7 pages. Rather, all checkout data is contained in the window the consumer is viewing. This allows users to review the contents of the order, including details about the products, without ever leaving the cart. Additional items can also be added via an animated cross-sell panel without the fear and frustration of losing their place or their data all together. Pageless checkout can be integrated with Scene7’s rich media providing visually enhanced upsell and cross-sell capabilities such as dynamic sizing, zoom, colors and monogramming.
Much of this functionality would not have made sense a few years ago. The big change: Broadband Internet access in the home. “We’re past the tipping point on broadband and when that happened, the amount of visual product information could increase,” Mack says.
And that means big things ahead, the companies say. “With our applications, we believe we are on the verge of a drastic and disruptive technology shift,” Chung says.
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