Rejuvenation Offers Build-to-Order Web Tool

Nov 01, 2004 10:30 PM  By

To give customers a chance to see its lighting fixtures in any of the 130 styles and options offered, Rejuvenation in September installed a build-to-order feature on its Website.

The Portland, OR-based cataloger of period lighting and hardware offers on its site a full-color preview of fixtures that allows customers to visualize how their color and style choices will affect the look of a fixture. The tool “eases the leap of faith for our online customers,” says Web director John Klatt.

The build-to-order feature is similar to applications offered on the Websites of other catalogers such as Lands’ End and Williams-Sonoma. But while most such tools enable users to see products in different colors and styles, Rejuvenation’s feature also allows for adjustments in sizes, shapes, and decorative accessories.

For example, customers can click on several buttons in the tool to build an Irvington ceiling lighting fixture by choosing such options as light count, finish, shade, overall length, arm width, and the presence of a decorative switch.

To promote the build-to-order function, Rejuvenation remailed its annual print catalog with a belly band encouraging shoppers to visit the Website to try the feature. The remail dropped during the week of Sept. 13 to 200,000 prospects (most of whom had requested the catalog) and 100,000 customers.

Rejuvenation is also promoting the feature in its two stores, in Portland and Seattle. The stores do not stock all variations of the fixtures, so clerks are encouraging shoppers to view the site via the in-store kiosks, Klatt says.

Although gauging response to the tool isn’t as straightforward as, say, tracking response to a catalog mailing, Klatt says that in the second week the tool was on the site, “we saw an increase of 25% in the number of people trying the tool, and a 20% increase in sales,” he says. But while traffic to Rejuvenation’s Website has been up slightly since the tool’s launch, “we’re still working on getting the word out to more people,” Klatt adds.

Getting technical

Rejuvenation spent a year developing the proprietary application, investing $25,000-$30,000 in software and spending another $70,000-$75,000 on labor. Inhouse Web developer Art Wells created all 130 product renderings — used in lieu of photographs — using AutoDesk design software’s Inventor tool. The files were then exported into the Rhino program from Rhinoceros Software.

After being touched up and optimized, the renderings were then exported as Renderman files and integrated with the Website programs. Rederman is the industry standard rendering format developed by animation company Pixar. As customers make their choices on the Website, the Render.C program by Dot C Software instantly composes the personalized rendition of the fixture for the customers to view.

As Rejuvenation creates additional fixtures, Wells will be able to add renderings with relative ease, Klatt says. The product engineers will create computer files containing the specs of each new part they build and then use the Rhino and Render.C software to pass along the files to the Web department to adapt for the builder tool. Wells wrote the configuration software to tie together the programs used.