On-line shopping adds a new dimension

There was a time not so long ago when 3D technology was considered to be a novelty.

According to Ted Iannuzzi, the Toronto-based CEO of Cycore Canada, 3D has shed its novelty skin and is well on its way to becoming a standard for functionality and practicality in the new economy.

“It’s making a big difference for a lot of companies that are now looking hard at their Web presence, and the amount of money that they’ve invested into their Web sites,” Iannuzzi said. “Basically, they’re all looking at what was missed in the e-commerce thing.”

What Web sites missed, Iannuzzi suggests, is the point of purchase experience that customers get by handling a product, which can be virtually recreated with Cycore’s Cult3D technology.

“Shopping usually entails looking at items you’ve never seen before or things you didn’t really think you wanted until you saw them and knew you couldn’t live without them, and for that you need an in-store atmosphere,” Iannuzzi said. “With Cult3D we can recreate what’s happening in the store, and go beyond that “

Cult3D tries to do just that on HMV’s Exposed site by broadening the features of what can be done with showcasing and selling music on-line.

“We can open a CD up and take that cellophane off, which you can’t do in the store,” Iannuzzi explained. “We can give you a look inside and let you hear the sounds that it makes.

“This technology is giving a user an experience which creates a knowledgeable consumer,” Iannuzi claimed. “The best customer is an educated one because they don’t bring stuff back and they don’t take a lot of time. If they’ve interacted with a product, seen how it looks, how it opens and closes, when they come into the store, they’re very quick at making their purchase. The sales person doesn’t need to go through that process with them. A lot of Web site owners are finding that this was the piece that was missing.”

Frank Koblun, vice-president of consumer e-commerce for HMV said response to the Web site’s use of 3D technology has been favourable.

“The response comes from three areas: store managers, music labels and customers,” Koblun said. “We’ve had a positive response from all three. The site draws attention to new music by identifying strong, up-and-coming artists, and the interactive element does something extra.”

IDC analyst Dan McLean believes that it is this something extra that will attract more users to a Web site and more Web site developers to 3D technology.

“It should not be discounted as something novel,” Toronto-based McLean stated. “The use of 3D is an important direction in terms of creating a buzz around e-commerce.”

One potential drawback to the technology is its size and accessibility.

“Retailers have to be careful in terms of how busy it will make the site,” McLean warned. “If it requires a serious download, it may create an issue in terms of remote access hook-up. If it’s too much of a bandwidth load, you have to become concerned, when you consider that generally, the way that consumers hook up is with analogue bandwidth.”

Cult3D, however, has been developed with these sorts of issues in mind, and is able to be used with a dial-up connection.

“It works on average computers and below,” Iannuzzi said. “Of course, the faster a computer is, the more performance you will see. It works on the lowest common denominator.”

“There are things we want to take to the next level,” Koblun added, citing box sets, DVDs and picture albums as products that HMV would like to feature using Cycore’s technology. “However, being able to get a high definition picture crammed into bandwidth is always a concern. We don’t want to strain someone’s 56K connection, so we try to keep the model small enough for the significant number of people on dialup.”

Visit www.hmv.com to check out its Exposed site and to download Cult3D