e-business basics -Interactivity
EBusiness offers the possibility of creating interactive services between the customer and the provider of the product or service, that is to say by a two-way flow of information.
Ries & Ries (2002) describe a progression over time of the reach of the mass media.
Books multiplied the number of people an individual could reach;
Periodicals added the element of news, radio added the human voice, and television added motion;
The Internet is the first mass medium to add interactivity.
“We believe that history will rank the Internet as the greatest of all media. And the reason is simple. The Internet is the only mass-communications medium that allows interactivity.”
Ries & Ries (2002) p.1281
Interactivity helps create a feeling that the retailer cares about or knows the individual customer, something that is very difficult to do in high street retailing, where the customer is usually a stranger to the sales assistant.
Interactivity helps to make the experience more entertaining and compelling, some exampled follow:
- The website for ordering Smart cars: as the user selects the bodywork and interior colours, the picture on the screen changes.
- Some clothing sites show clothing on a model that helps the client imagine the overall look of their purchases together on a ‘virtual model’.
- Complementary products and services, or alternatives, can be offered at the point of sale in a way that might become obtrusive in a face-to-face situation – the electronic shopper can merely click ‘no thanks’ at any point.
- Almost instantaneous calculation of pricing is a major development in on-line air travel booking.
- Job search sites offer psychological profiling services and aptitude tests.
- Book retailers suggest other titles also bought by customers who have also selected the item selected.
- And, more recently, forums, blogs and sites such as Youtube and Myspace allow users to post their own content to websites.
- Amazon allows customers to rate their purchases by adding user reviews, both fo the products themselves and also for third party ‘marketplace sellers’ that sell products through Amazon’s website.
There are endless ways to engage online customers through interactivity. The challenge is to come up with functionality that is fun, worthwhile and that genuinely adds value to the website, without ever becoming cumbersome or intrusive.
1Ries A, Ries L (2002): The 22 immutable laws of branding Harper Business
Author: Steve Whiteley, January 2007
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