Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Online Product Registration Tools

When customers purchase products with extended warranties, merchants automatically capture the consumer's information. Similarly, e-merchants can ask customers to register certain purchases for a variety of services. New releases, add-ons, or service features can provide the customer with real value while giving the merchant data for a customer relationship management database.

Sampling and Demonstrations—"Demo Days Online"

You may have shopped in a grocery store and been given ice cream samples—a retail technique called sampling used to encourage incremental sales. Or, you may have seen an "infomercial"an extended TV commercial that provides extensive information. The infomercial may be as long as 30 minutes or more, with the host describing the benefits in detail and giving hands-off demonstrations. TV shopping channels are very successful with this method. And at retail, staging special events—called "demo days"—is an effective promotional selling technique. The Victoria Secret online fashion show was a form of online demonstration coupled with entertainment and resulted in incremental sales.

Internet 2010

Often, online customers are at a disadvantage over a retail store environment, where they can see, touch, feel, try on, operate, or "test drive" a product. Most online stores today minimally merchandise products with basic elements: images, product descriptions and specifications, sizes and measurements, and other information that comes from the manufacturer.

As shoppers scan pages, they may miss a key selling point that is hidden in copy or in the product specs. Providing product simulations online for strategic products or categories stimulates customers to purchase. Creating "demo days online" gives you a competitive advantage over line listing products. Educational, interactive, or downloadable content gives customers the information they need to make a purchasing decision.

Because of the expense of richer types of media applications—such as videos and animations—it's important to consider where the Internet is going and where you should be internationally. Reaching a global market must be considered, especially because the majority of Internet users are outside the U.S., with Asia growing at high rates. Even though online purchasing may not be commonplace in other countries, people still find information on Internet sites globally prior to purchasing in a local store or region.

For the more expensive technologies, such as animations or videos, consider using a separate sound track and creating voiceovers. This allows leverage of main content and minimal additional expense for localization. Also, animations are easier to localize than videos with people.

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