For Bealls, a family-owned regional department store in Florida, enhancing users’ experiences online was critical to the growth and success of its business. With a brick-and-mortar presence only in Florida, and a loyal customer base of seasonal customers and travelers, the lifestyle apparel and home décor retailer needed to be able to sell to these consumers year-round, not just when they were visiting the Sunshine State on vacation. So Bealls invested in its e-commerce site. In particular, it targeted rich media applications as a way to engage consumers online.
Kim Siefke, e-commerce manager, web design and development at Bealls, spoke at last month's Retail Marketing Conference in Orlando, Fla. on how her company has used rich media to grow its online and cross-channel sales. Joining Siefke in presenting a session titled “How Rich Media Can Help Drive Cross-Channel Success” was Wayne Sadlowski, vice president of business development at Adobe Scene7, a provider of image server software.
In its quest to be a channel agnostic organization, Bealls created an environment where its easy for consumers to do business with the company, both online and in-store. The retailer developed campaigns to create synergy between the two channels, such as sending unique coupon codes to customers via email for in-store purchase, and vice versa. In fact, Siefke said that 75 percent of Bealls’ in-store customers come via email. The internet serves as the customer acquisition tool for Bealls, Siefke said.
To improve the user experience online, Bealls implemented several rich media applications to its product pages. These included the following:
- alternate views and color swatches, allowing consumers to look at products from several angles and in different colors;
- zoom, which increased conversion rates by 25 percent in a A/B test, Siefke said;
- overlay templates, which enable consumers to view expanded call-out shots of a product by simply rolling over them with their mouse without leaving the page; and
- e-catalogs, which have proven very effective for seasonal customers who visit Florida for vacation, Siefke said.
Bealls' future plans call for an enterprisewide asset management system, syncing up customer and product data to all channels, launching a new web platform, and cutting down on all the consumer touchpoints for merchandise.
6 Ways to Use Rich Media to Drive Sales
In his part of the presentation, Adobe Scene7's Sadlowski offered six strategies — and examples — retailers can follow to optimize the power of rich media.
1. Content is king. The bigger the product shot, the better, Sadlowski said. Focus on the content first, then the buttons/accessories. Full-screen viewing with mouse-over navigation is an example of this. Retailers he cited doing this well include Burton Boards, Lands’ End, Victoria's Secret, Under Armour and Room & Board.
2. Video completes the story. Sadlowski named J.C. Penney as a retailer that's effectively using video online. Penney ties video and product imagery together by playing video when consumers click on specific items a model is wearing to get a better view of that product. Other retailers Sadlowski recognized in this area included Medion, a German consumer electronics company, and The Shopping Channel.
3. Search gets sexier. Rich media allows for search by size, color, shape and more, dynamically calling up images on the fly. Sunglass Hut has implemented a tool that allows for dynamically resized images of glasses of different shapes, sizes, lens color, and more, helping it to fill up white space, Sadlowski said.
4. Make it personal and empowering. Use rich media to adapt to the personalities of shoppers and engage them, Sadlowski said. Retailers doing this well include Home Depot, which uses drag-and-drop technology to allow consumers to design rooms, such as a bathroom (pick tile coloring, cabinets, vanity, tub, etc.); and Wal-Mart, which has a section on its site where consumers can design their own ring — have a name engraved, choose a stone, etc. — and the images of the designs are dynamically served to them.
5. Community content captures customers. Provide the ability for consumers to upload photos directly from a product page to their social networks so their friends can comment on an item, Sadlowski said.
6. Mobility drives multichannel momentum. Don't miss out on the next big thing in retail — mobile — by developing a mobile site enhanced with rich media that allows for browsing and buying; search capabilities for latest or best-sellers, nearest stores, promos, click-to-call; text for pickup and promotions; and local search powered by GPS.