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BizReport : Ecommerce archives : March 05, 2009

Product videos gain popularity among consumers and retailers

Product videos are increasingly being used by online retailers and, according to recent research, many plan to implement this most engaging and evolving marketing tool over the coming year.

by Helen Leggatt

Retailers are as busy as ever optimizing their websites with nearly half having rolled out a new design in the past year, according to a recent Internet Retailer survey. Just over a quarter (26.6%) did so in the last six months and 13.3% in the last three months.

For a little over 62% of retailers their category and product pages were a priority, second only to improved site optimization (72.9%).

But a relatively new tool is making inroads into the online marketer's toolbox - product video. The Internet Retailer survey discovered that 43.3% of merchants will update their e-commerce sites with video this year, driven by reported hikes in conversion rates and effectiveness both on- and off-site. That's more than those who intend to add advanced features such as product reviews or alternative payment options.

No doubt the increasing interest in video on retail sites has been driven by success stories from early adopters such as,, Bed Bath & Beyond and Circuit City.

" experienced a 40% rise in conversion rates on products highlighted in online videos," said the jewelry retailer's co-founder and president Mayer Gniwisch. And by showing its products on models in videos, which puts the size and appearance of jewelry in a better context for viewers, reduced the return rate on some products by 24%.

Gniwisch is just one of a number of merchants who tell of online success with product video in the Video Commerce Consortium's excellent paper, "Building an Effective Video Commerce Strategy" (November, 2008).

Last month, eMarketer released a report that bolsters support for product video. Titled "Video Usage in E-Commerce: The Best Is Yet to Come", it revealed that 40% of online consumers watched product videos last year. Not surprising in an online environment where video is king, in fact, video is becoming noticeable by its absence on many retail sites.

Product video, or video commerce as it is increasingly referred to in its entirety, not only engages and reassures consumers, it has numerous benefits to retailers, too, including less abandoned shopping carts, reduced return rates and higher sales, said the report author, eMarketer's Jeffrey Grau, adding "And those are just some of the benefits".

But adding video isn't just a case of slapping up a few snippets here and there. It requires a well thought out strategy including who will provide the video content, which products would most benefit from video content and how that video content can be created to be equally effective off-site?

Off-site? That's right - product videos can go on to lead a life outside of an online store and work to acquire new customers as well as convert existing shoppers. Well branded, entertaining and useful product videos can easily end up on Facebook profiles, blogs or on YouTube. A case in point, a product video for a fly-swatting gadget on made the 'featured video' list on YouTube, attracting masses of views and doubling sales the day it was featured.

"Once retailers build up the video content on their sites, they will focus on turning their video assets into customer acquisition tools by pushing video to other sites, such as affiliates, social networks and video-sharing destinations," said Grau.

"Retailers will also place community elements around their videos to make it easy for consumers to upload them to social networks, blogs, bookmarking services or emails."

This year may well see the full emergence of the power of video in e-commerce, bringing products to life, driving conversions and attracting conversation. But, as WebProNews' Chris Crum revealed earlier this year, it is of equal importance for its impact on SERPs.

Tags: e-commerce, eMarketer, product video, retail, site optimization, social networks, video

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  • While it seems obvious that video helps sell products and provide customer support, but having real numbers really helps in understanding just how important video is becoming. has already created a platform for instructional product videos, and is becoming the leader in standardizing the product video manual format.

    The site focuses exclusively on product manuals, and provides people with instructions not just a general overview of the product. It allows companies to post their videos and makes it easy for the consumers to find the videos. It uses the same format for all product videos and breaks them into short chapters for easy viewing.

    YouTube is not an answer if a company wants to control the quality and the context in which their product appears.

    A lot of companies still do not use instructional product videos as a marketing tool - they post those videos deep inside the website, where it is hard to find.

    But more and more companies choose to display their product videos right on the home page where people can find them, or post them on a dedicated site such as HandBookLive, in addition to displaying it on their own sites.

  • Thank you for a great article about the immediate future of "Video Commerce". Qoof, The Video Commerce Company, has been and continues to be a Pioneer in this space working with such great clients as, The Marriott, and

    But Video Commerce is more than just slapping a YouTube video on your site or putting a product video somewhere on your page.

    Just like QVC has gotten Direct Resposne TV down to a science so will be the success of Video Commerce.

    The platforms that offer services that allow you not just to post a video with a "buy now" button, but can tell you from experience and from data collection what is the best way to display the video, what are the words that should be used in a video, which products sell better using video etc. Those are the ones that will continue to increase conversions until they too have it down to a science.

    We are in the very early stages of Video Commerce and it is true as you point out that more and more online retailers are using video, but this is just the first step.

    The next step and it's one of the reasons why and is so successful, is to have your own in house studio. By 2012, the vast majority of the top 500 retailers will have their own in house studios. They will see that it will be much more cost effective to create their own videos then to outsource it. And as the cost of bandwidth continues to drop the more videos you will see being used online.



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