Smith+Noble gets dynamic

Just over a year ago, Corona, CA-based Smith+Noble was in the process of becoming a dynamic company — with dynamic imagery on its Website, that is.

In December 2004, the window treatment merchant began working with Novato, CA-based Scene7 to implement a dynamic image rendering system for its online Design Center. Within three months, the system was live on Smith+Noble’s Website, spotlighting a small selection of items. Today the Design Center features five of Smith+Noble’s product lines and has contributed to a 17% rise in conversion rates.

Smith+Noble’s Design Center lets customers combine materials and colors to see how a specific product might appear in a bedroom, a living room, a kitchen, or an entryway. A customer can, for instance, see how a combination of Smith+Noble window blinds and panels will look in his bedroom by customizing the virtual room with wall color, flooring, and bedding that matches his own.

Within the Design Center, customers can zoom in on products more closely, add merchandise to a shopping cart, change swatches, and e-mail selections to a friend or a spouse. “Customers want to be their own driver of their destiny,” says Smith+Noble e-commerce manager Tony Morris.

Before signing with Scene7, Smith+Noble tested another technology that required the marketer to manually configure millions of possible combinations, says Morris. In addition to being inefficient, he says, the process resulted in an abundance of errors. With the current technology, Smith+Noble merely had to supply the graphics for each product swatch; the software automatically generated the images of every conceivable combination of samples and colors.

Dynamic shopping carts and e-mail too

Smith+Noble is so pleased with the results that it is working on a complete site redesign using the technology throughout. The site will even use a new shopping cart that remains on a single dynamic screen rather than a series of static screens. The revamped site is scheduled to launch at the end of the first quarter.

The cataloger is also testing dynamic e-mails designed to reduce cart-abandonment rates. When a visitor leaves the site with items left in his virtual shopping cart, he will receive an e-mail personalized with information on the products he’d been looking at and special promotions such as free shipping. The goal, Morris says, is to “integrate personalization with information that’s relevant to what browsers are looking at and what customers want.”

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