October 23, 2008, 12:00 AM

Consumer insights refine early version of Levelor.com product configurator

Levolor’s configurator lets shoppers visualize billions of window treatment combinations; updates to the configurator have made it even faster.

Getting a product configurator, one of the most complex online retail merchandising features, up and running on a web site is only the first part making it successful-if insights from consumers’ early use of the tool aren’t continually funneled back into its development, the tool won’t keep shoppers interested or even justify the investment, says Eric long, senior manager of information systems for Levolor Window Fashions.

Levolor.com uses technology from Adobe Scene7 to allow consumers to visualize more than 100 billion different combinations of window treatments and the current version of its configurator, up since 2007, reflects changes based on what Levolor has found about how consumers use it, according to Long. For example, Levolor boosted the tools’ usability by adding an animated spinner that activates when a shopper changes an option in a window treatment visualization that changes the price.

“Consumers were so focused on answering questions in the configurator they didn’t realize a real-time price was available to them throughout the configuration process,” Long says. “They thought they had to complete the entire configuration process to see the review screen that displays the price.”

The spinners, says Long, now draw attention to the pricing display that changes when consumers click any option that changes the product price. "Previously, without the spinner, they wouldn’t notice the price was even there,” he says.

Long also notes that advances in Ajax technology have allowed Levolor to significantly improve the configurator`s speed in serving up images and functions. This has meant a faster, more user-friendly experience for consumers compared to earlier releases of the configurator, he says. Ajax, or asynchronous JavaScript and XML, divides the processing in software applications between a user’s web browser and a web server, providing for faster page functionality.

”It’s easy to launch a functionally sound configurator online but very difficult to achieve consistently positive customer satisfaction without continuous improvement,” Long adds. “A product configurator is an ongoing commitment and should be treated as part of your organization’s product offering.”

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