Live from Internet Retailer: Use Video Right and Become a Web Star

Chicago–An e-commerce site can get its 15 minutes of fame by including video. But if you want to use video to sell product, you won’t be using it effectively, said David Card, vice president/research director at JupiterResearch.

During a session at Internet Retailer’s Conference and Expo on Tuesday, Card said his company’s research indicates that videos appeal to the minority of Web buyers, so you should use them judiciously.

When JupiterResearch asked which visual features on a retail site are found to be most useful while researching products online, 17% of those between the ages of 18-24 answered video of product, as did 14% of adults.

“Maybe it’s more of a branding experience,” Card said. “Don’t expect to generate a lot of transaction from videos. Kind of experiment how you use them, because we’re still a little bit early with them. Video right now is being dominated by YouTube, and you may not want to give away that YouTube vibe.”

And Laura Evans, executive studio director at interactive marketing agency Resource Interactive, knows about YouTube. She said her daughter thought it was funny to post videos on the site of her singing while driving the family car, and of her grandmother playing tennis on the Wii.

“You have to think about how, when and where to use video instead of just pushing it out there,” Evans said. “You should use it if you are out there to accomplish a specific goal, not for the sake of having it on your site.”

So when is the right time to include video?

  • To create brand awareness and trial
  • To entertain and enhance brand image
  • To support a purchase decision
  • To merchandise in an experiential or more dynamic way

Examples of merchants Card and Evans thought were using video online included:

  • Abecrombie & Fitch: The apparel merchant ran a short video showing how it selected store employees to be A&F models.
  • Gap: The apparel retailer included an interview with designer Michael Bastain, showing how and why he came up with his concept.

And the ones doing it wrong?

  • H&M: The fashion chain’s video took too long to load, meaning its infrastructure probably couldn’t handle it, and that the consumer would leave unhappy.
  • Jack Wills: The apparel site’s long, drawn-out introduction didn’t tell anything about the brand. Shorter is better, both Card and Evans agreed.