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"Touching" the Online Product

Posted on 6.10.2006

Recently, at Internet Retailer 2006 conference and exhibition, Website Services Magazine operated a booth intended to add new subscribers.  Just about everyone that we asked to subscribe to our free publication picked up the magazine and opened it before agreeing to subscribe.  They were "shopping" our magazine.  And most shoppers still feel it is important to be able to pick up the item they are shopping for, touch it, tap on it a few times ... maybe smell it.  So what do you do if your retail operation is solely online, with no brick-and-mortar location?

The answer lies in reproducing the shopping experience through your Web pages.  Newegg, launched in 2001, has quickly become a billion dollar online technology retailer and one of the top 10 overall online retailers.  Without a brick-and-mortar location, Newegg VP Howard Tong realized early on that, "The website is our only interface with the customer."  And he knew how turn a perceived weakness into a major strength.

Newegg's website features detailed, targeted graphics to it's customer base - one that it know's well.  Looking to buy a new motherboard?  One page features an up-close shot of the box at a high enough quality to read the text.  The next page shows the content of the box, a closer look reveals the intimate details of the board itself.  Even further, more pages offer a look at the individual components of the board, add-ons, software and other components.  All of this provides the shopper with a way to "touch" the product before they purchase it.  Of course, it is critical to know your customer base and what is important for them to see about your product.  Unfortunately, scratch-and-sniff monitors are not available yet, but nothing is impossible.

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