More than 50% of online businesses plan to deploy enhancements such as better imagery, consumer personalisation, and user-generated content over the next six months - and 93% within a year - according to a survey by Scene7 (part of Adobe Systems).
According to the survey, the greatest growth areas for the planned new features included mobile commerce, URL or 'widget' sharing, personalised messaging, and user ratings.
Innovation for differentiation
According to Doug Mack, vice president of consumer and hosted solutions at Adobe, with a predicted decline in e-commerce growth rates, companies that continue investing in these kinds of enhancements to differentiate themselves - and deliver a more compelling user experience - will gain market share: "Rich and innovative applications enable businesses to further engage customers with more personal and compelling online experiences, which can ultimately increase conversions and revenues."
The survey of 347 respondents from retailers, manufacturers, agencies, and high-tech companies around the world found that, while increased clicks, usage, and conversions were reported as the leading metrics for evaluating new functionality, qualitative feedback and increased revenue were also very important indicators of effectiveness.
More powerful features
Respondents indicated that one of the most highly effective features for online sellers is the so-called "360-degree spin" (in which a product can be viewed on--screen from any angle). However, the survey found that this technology has not yet been widely deployed, although nearly 30% of respondents said they planned to add it to their web sites during 2008.
Other top-ranking features identified by respondents included:
- Alternate views;
- User ratings;
- Product tours;
- Online catalogues;
- Personalised messaging;
- Quick looks;
- Personalised stores.
One-third of the respondents said they had already incorporated "image zoom" and "alternate view" into their web sites, and ranked these features as being more effective than others tested. One quarter of respondents said they had deployed micro-sites, videos, online catalogues, personalised stores, blogs, colour swatching, quick looks, RSS, and product tours - all of which they ranked as equally effective.
The full results of the internet customer experience development survey have been made available for download from the Scene7 web site - click here (PDF document, no registration needed).