Can't Get to a Store? Circuit City Offers Virtual Product Views

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CircuitCity.com yesterday introduced a new service that allows consumers to zoom in and out on product images of electronics items and rotate them 360 degrees.


Consumers can click a 3-D view button near products that CircuitCity.com has prepared for the service. 3-D views of the Web site's best sellers are available now. Rotating and close-up views will be made available for most of the Web site's other electronics items.


In many cases, product images shown on computer screens are larger than the actual size.


"We're letting our customers get up-close and personal with electronics available at our Web site," said George Barr, director of Internet merchandising and fulfillment at Circuit City Stores, Richmond, VA.


"We know shoppers want a clear view of the front control panel," he said. "But we also know they're usually just as interested in what's around the backside of a device. They want to check out the jacks and connections to see how they'd work with other gear in their systems."


Imaging files take 10 to 15 seconds to load on a 56K modem.


Virginia-based Nueweb Interactive is the imaging technology vendor.


CircuitCity.com joins e-tailers buy.com, Etronics, PhotoAlley.com and ritzcamera.com on Nueweb's list of NueView customers.


"In the past, the visual presentation of online merchandise was always a problem, especially with electronics," said Rick Hancock, chief merchandising officer at Phobo.com Inc., which manages ritzcamera.com.


"One product with the same name could have 50 to 60 different versions," he said. "Consumers want to be reassured that they're buying the right one. I believe NueView will make someone more likely to press the `buy' button."


Nueweb has built a database of photo-realistic, interactive product images based on the most popular consumer electronics ranked by CNET. The service is hosted on Nueweb's server. Because of this, the company claims that e-tailers' sites are not milked for bandwidth.


The service uses Flash and streaming technology to produce its images. Non-Flash-enabled browsers require downloads.
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