November 30, 2007, 12:00 AM

Flowers/Gifts/JewelryShoppers buying bouquets and diamonds need help

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"Wine enthusiasts shopping online want a description of the flavors they can expect to taste," says Lanae Paaverud, a board member of the Internet Merchants Association, a Wellington, Fla.-based non-profit trade association for e-commerce companies. "If the description says the wine has a hint of pepper and the shopper is familiar with that taste they are liable to be more inclined to buy it."

The depiction of high quality magnified product images against a layered gray background enhances the presentation of the items and speaks to the style and sophistication of`s customers.

The e-retailer hit on the concept after opening a dialog with customers through surveys and focus groups. Shoppers told they wanted a richer shopping experience and more of the bells and whistles that accompany Web 2.0 technology.

"Web 2.0 technologies are something our shoppers wanted to see and that convinced us to move away from the static and rigid design we had for many years," says Craig Bowen, president and CEO of "Without this dialog, we were only guessing at what our customers wanted to see."

By listening to its customers, has brought the art of wine to e-retailing. Back to Top

Beyond the airwaves doesn`t simply want to support the television program that sired it. It hopes to surpass the show as an alluring venue for a diverse group of shoppers purchasing jewelry and gemstones.

With more than 40,000 unique products on the site, split about 50/50 between gemstones and jewelry, the Knoxville, Tenn.-based Internet jeweler has a vaster inventory than its broadcast sister. It also is trying to appeal to a much broader demographic than the predominant audience of 45-year-old and up females who tune into the TV show.

"Everything about the web site is broader than the TV broadcast," says James Thome, senior vice president of e-commerce and strategic business development for The web site, he says, is attracting males and shoppers in their 20s.

That broader appeal has been enhanced by a comprehensive redesign of the site. For instance, a new "learning library" helps customers find what they want and better understand jewelry and gemstones. The site includes impressive product videos, along with customer ratings and reviews of products. Experts contribute product blogs.

And has redesigned the home page and each category page to help shoppers navigate through such a huge wealth of merchandise.

"We wanted to refresh the web experience, because it had gone static," says Thome.

The site directs visitors, with a click of the mouse, to live video of the TV broadcast, while TV hosts constantly refer viewers to the web site.

"The web site integrates well with their TV channel," says Jim Okamura, senior partner with Canadian-based retail consultant, J.C. Williams Group Ltd. "The customer can move seamlessly between the web site, TV, call centers, and 24-hour customer care." diversifies its product offerings on a daily basis. "We add to the web site 800 new SKUs a day," says Thome.

The site also has begun promoting more exclusive jewelry like $65,000 rings and $40,000 bracelets. "We can`t do it as well on TV," Thome says of the high-end items, "but we can do it on the web site." Back to Top

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