Online retailers get the picture: Video works

June 20, 2016 01:12 PM

Online shoppers are flocking to retailer websites: Annual video views increased 42% in 2015 according to a survey of retailer clients by Invodo Inc., an online video marketing firm.

“2015 was a watershed year for video,” Invodo’s vice president of marketing Fred Waugh told attendees last week at the 2016 Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition in Chicago. And 14% of online retail sales were tied to videos last year, an Invodo benchmarking report says.

Shoppers who watch a video are 1.7 times more likely to buy something than those who don’t, Waugh said. But videos must be relevant, and those depicting how to assemble or use a product get the best results. When consumers evaluate video quality, the higher the rating the more likely they are to buy, Invodo found. A five-star rating correlates to a 3.76% conversion rate, while a one-star rating yields only a 1% conversion rate.

Toy manufacturer and online retailer The Step 2 Co. has video down to a science. Step 2, which bills itself as the world’s largest manufacturer of large plastic toys, went through a lengthy due diligence process in 2012 before it signed on with Invodo, Ashley Szeremet, Step 2’s head of digital branding and loyalty, told IRCE attendees.

“We measured the videos, and they produced: We have 131 videos now,” Szeremet said. 14.4% of visitors engage with a video, and most are 1 minute, 30 seconds long, she added. In a test of completion rate—the percentage of videos watched to completion or at least 80% of the video—Step2 had a 65% completion rate compared with Invodo’s benchmark rate of 62%, she said.

Viewers can rate a video’s helpfulness on a five-star scale, Step2 videos perform slightly ahead (4.5%) of Invodo’s benchmark rating for all companies studied (4.2%).

The videos typically show children playing with Step2 toys, with some shot outside and others in a studio, Szeremet says. The retailer often uses a white background to minimize viewer distractions from the activity and the script, and in the case of a playhouse video, an adult is included with children to give a sense of the toy’s size, she said.

Other highlights from the IRCE video in e-retail track:

YouTube gets the highest marks among video experts. It’s the second-largest search engine in the world after Google, with more than 3 billion searches a month. YouTube is searchable, and that’s why Steven Leeds, senior vice president of marketing at Systemax, No. 32 in the Internet Retailer 2016 Top 500, recommends it over such social networks as Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

“Facebook is great for distributing content aligned with your brand, but consumers don’t want to buy or see commercials on Facebook,” Leeds said. “They want lifestyle information.”

Leeds’ background includes creating videos for comedy site, some of which went viral and have been viewed more than 100 million times. He also created viral videos for, formerly owned by Systemax. One of the videos, featuring super-nerd characters Rhett and Link in a nerd vs. geek rap faceoff, launched two years ago and has more than 31 million views on YouTube.

The Rhett and Link video was just under four minutes and cost about $50,000 to make, the amount TigerDirect usually spent on one newspaper ad, Leeds said.

Whether videos go viral or not, retailers should focus videos on one or more key themes to get them noticed, he said.

Innovation, such as car maker Lexus’s ad and YouTube videos that featured people riding hoverboards like skateboards is one approach. The hoverboard isn’t practical for mass production, but it showed the maker’s technological capabilities. Videos also can be inspirational, such as WestJet Airline’s Christmas miracles bestowed by the company’s 12,000 employees, or incentive-based, such as the Doritos Super Bowl ad contest that nets the winner $1 million worth of commercial time during the annual football extravaganza.

A video also can use humor, which is high on Leeds’ list. For example, Dollar Shave Club’s edgy video about how great its blades are received 10 million views in the first month it was on YouTube, and the company used that success to raise capital. It’s been viewed 22.7 million times since its launch four years ago. Dollar Shave Club is No. 238 in the Top 500.

AutoAnything set up a separate website to host videos., a web-only car and truck accessories and performance parts merchant, wanted to provide installation and demonstration videos last year. The biggest question: ow to scale its video effort to support over 1 million SKUs.

AutoAnything, a unit of AutoZone Inc. (No. 103 in the Top 500), turned to, a video commerce technology vendor, to create, said Ryan Kartzke, e-commerce director at AutoAnything. “We had a big market with a product scale issue to solve,” Kartzke said. “Talking to all of our customers at scale, with multiple user types was a big challenge.”

The TV website didn’t tax AutoAnything’s information technology resources because hosts Site visitors can view videos on installing products, product demos, listen to exhaust systems and enable consumers to upload their own videos.

AutoAnything taps its more than 300 vendors for videos, among other sources. “We leverage brand content and influencers,” Kartzke said. “We have 1.6 million subscribers and our videos have been viewed 311 million times.”




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