A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words
Think of buying a new camera. The process likely involves reading photography blogs and visiting Web sites to gather details about specific models. Armed with this information, the consumer exits the online environment and heads to a bricks-and-mortar store to purchase a camera.
According to Internet Retailer, sales conversion rates, though varied by site type (e.g., chain retailers, Web-only merchants), are low. While catalog/call center operators fare best with conversion rates as high as 27%, many e-tailers convert less than 1% of all shoppers.
Stas Antons, a management information systems major, aims to improve those statistics through Smart Symbols™ Interactive Technologies. Antons’ start-up firm uses visual labeling technology to enhance the online shopping experience with 50 x 100 pixel pictures that organize essential product information and external buzz on one page. Customers mouse over the icons for information.
Using the camera example, a consumer may see icons depicting a flag (for Made in America), a newspaper (for print media reviews), and people (for social media network information). “In online space, there is no interaction between the buyer and seller,” says Antons. “Our intent is to make visual labeling technology a core part of customer engagement.”
Research shows that consumers buy more when they spend more time at a site. By offering key facts about products, these icons encourage consumers to linger and purchase.
Smart Symbols™ also offers e-tailers detailed insights regarding the technology’s traffic and marketing effectiveness. Top 3 Smart Symbols™ icons identify which product qualities customers are drawn to at specific sites. During testing, consumers gravitated toward social networking icons. “Smart Symbols captures analytics no one else has,” says Antons.
The technology has been tested against 30,000 products, and while it can be applied to any product or service, Antons focuses on consumer goods. To learn more about Smart Symbols, visit smartsymbols.com.
—Maria V. Caliri ’86, M.B.A. ’92