By  on February 4, 2002

NEW YORK -- The money is in the details: E-tailers are taking aim at high-tech graphics in order to enhance their merchandising and online sales.

Coach.com, for one, is expanding its use of a RichFX virtual merchandising technology to a wider array of goods, after finding that the application boosted the site's browsing-to-purchasing conversion rate by 130 percent during a test.

New York-based Internet software developer RichFX Inc., whose applications offer visuals designed to impart a 3-D treatment online, has recently picked up some swift business from e-tailers such as Spiegel, American Express, Levenger and Havertys, as well as Coach. The company, which began in Tel Aviv with some technologies first used by the Israeli army, burst onto the U.S. scene back in August 2000, when it launched the Manolo Blahnik e-boutique at NeimanMarcus.com -- still considered a breakthrough in visual merchandising online.

The RichFX technology allows a Web site's visitors to zoom-in on merchandise and clearly view patterns, textures and detailing specifics of products often lost online.

"We are more than doubling the number of ZoomFX-enabled products," said Richard Burke, divisional vice president of e-commerce for Spiegel. "In addition, RichFX technology will now give shoppers the ability to pan and zoom at the same time with synched audio narrations of groups of products in a lifestyle context."

Spiegel and Coach are not alone. According to Internet consultant Jupiter Media Metrix, conversion rates for RichFX-enhanced products at Gifts.com were seven times higher than that of a standard product page during 2001. This yielded a return on investment of $2.77 for every dollar spent on the project.

In another development, RichFX has named Johann Butting chief executive officer. Butting joined the technology firm in mid-January from Germany-based media giant Bertelsmann AG, were he was ceo of the Digital World Services unit. He succeeds Tal Kerret, who is now heading up RichFX's business development division.

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