Rich Internet Applications to explode in 2007

As online retailing becomes the fastest-growing retail segment and continues gaining momentum into 2007, online businesses are evaluating and deploying rich Internet applications to differentiate themselves and improve customers' online experiences. In a recent survey of retailers, catalogers and commerce sites, more than 90 percent of respondents indicated they will be conducting rich Internet projects over the next year to enhance user experience.

Scene7 polled businesses selling a variety of products and services online about rich Internet features, common areas of site enhancements, tools and technologies being used and timeframes for deploying rich Internet applications. Analysis of survey data identified the most popular and effective rich Internet features and applications deployed or planned, as well as the top Web site areas leveraging rich Internet applications.

Cross-sell and up-sell, zoom and online catalogs were the predominant deployed features, while richer imagery, alternative views and gift suggestions were noted as the leading features planned. Survey respondents cited the most effective rich Internet features all involved improving the presentation of products online with zoom (78%), visual product configurators (76%), color swatching and coloring (75%), online monogramming (73%) and alternative views (73%) topping the list.

Respondents also identified home and product pages as the most widely deployed areas of their sites to utilize rich Internet solutions. Meanwhile, the top areas where online businesses plan to add rich Internet applications include home, category or browse, best sellers and product pages, as well as across their entire sites. In addition, respondents cited the most effective areas to add rich Internet applications are shop by room or collection, Web to print and gift registry.

The majority of respondents measure the effectiveness of rich Internet enhancements through conversion rates; however, other high ranking methods include measuring revenue increases and clicks or usage.

"As eCommerce matures, the importance this channel plays for companies doing any type of business online is increasing," said Doug Mack, CEO and founder of Scene7. "Rich Internet features and applications are critical for companies to differentiate themselves and drive incremental revenue by offering users unique online experiences."