Practical Ecommerce

SellPoint Offers “Active” Product Tours

Ecommerce businesses want to move more merchandise. A service called SellPoint can help with this, by creating, hosting and syndicating customizable product tours. These tours integrate detailed, 360-degree images, combined with video, animation, product statistics, data sheets and even installation guides, all of which are designed to “inform, entertain and motivate shoppers to buy.”

The company, which began in 2000, provides this service to product manufacturers that, in turn, make it available to retailers. And there’s a perk ⎯ it doesn’t cost merchants anything.

Cater to both manufacturers and retailers

“Basically, we have two groups of stakeholders for our product,” said Rick Martin, president and CEO of SellPoint. “We have got the manufacturers who pay us to produce tours, what we call active product tours, and then they pay us to produce them and to syndicate them out to all the online merchants that sell their particular product. For the merchants, they are our distribution network. Our product tours are made available to them for free. The online retailer never pays SellPoint a nickel. Everything we have available is made available to them for free and is paid for by the manufacturer.”

After SellPoint creates an active product tour for a manufacturer, it automatically connects it to each retailer’s online product page who stocks the product, and it can then be viewed everywhere that product is sold via the Internet. And because the tours are syndicated, they can also be constantly updated through SellPoint’s own software platform.

“The product tour is hosted by us so the retailers never really have to involve their IT infrastructure or anything like that,” Martin said. “One of the things we do is we customize our product tours so they always are consistent with the look and feel of the merchant’s website. The idea is to make sure the merchant has a consistent look and feel for their shopper, and that the shopper never feels they are looking at content that is hosted elsewhere.”

For manufacturers, these product tours include a variety of rich media creative packages. As an example, SellPoint’s Standard Flash option includes more than a minute of scripted product voice-over description, emphasizing the benefits and features of the product; up to four chapters detailing product features and benefits; stock photography; transitional effects; and an unlimited number of client provided images.

SellPoint also makes it a priority to customize each package according to the merchant’s vision for the product. “When we engage with an online merchant, we have got a series of questions that we want to ask to make sure that we have tailored our product tour to fit the way they want it to be shown,” Martin said.

Martin said that SellPoint’s creative options for smaller manufacturers typically start at around $1,000 a month, which includes syndicating, hosting and the managing process.

Benefits to merchants

Importantly, according to Dennis Marshall, SellPoint’s vice president of marketing and product management, SellPoint also offers another advantage ⎯ active tour networking. “One of the other things that we find that the merchants really get value out of by joining our retail network is when they sign up with us, as we said that is free, they get access to all of the content for all of the manufacturers that we are doing business with so it really creates a nice circular effect. If I have got a larger merchant and they all carry digital cameras, they could get [access to SellPoint tours of] Canon and Fuji and Pentax and Samsung.”

Marshall also said SellPoint provides a unique opportunity to play a much larger role in the sales conversion equation “It really is a nice one-stop shop because you can probably see from our site that we have got a growing manufacturer client list and the retailer gets all of that content. We have had some retailers get real excited because they sign up with us and in the space of literally a few days just to get things running and put some links on product pages, they get access to hundreds of these active product tours that suddenly are popping up, playing on their site, generating view time, converting shoppers into buyers. It is a great leverage for the merchant who does not have to go out and strike up relationships to receive rich media or whatever from all the manufacturers. It really can be a pretty powerful thing that works across the board with lots of the products they sell on their site.”

Porter’s Cameras, located in Iowa, has implemented SellPoint’s active product tours and has been pleased with the results. “The tours are very nice,” said Bob Condra, department manager for Porter’s advertising department. “We’ve been very impressed. The tours incorporate video clips, which gives the customer much more information compared to just simply written text.”

Porter’s Cameras started using the SellPoint’s services approximately a year ago, with its Pentax cameras, and have since integrated similar tours with its Cannon and Samsung cameras.

“From our standpoint, it’s just so easy to use,” Condra said. “We just add a link to our site, and it keeps the customer at our site.”

Pat Callahan

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