Practical Ecommerce

Quick Query: Faculte.com CEO on Self-serve Video Tools

Online shoppers are increasingly looking for video to demonstrate a product or explain its use. But for many ecommerce merchants, producing, embedding, and playing video is a complicated, confusing process. There is a company called Faculte (pronounced fak-uhl-tee) that provides all of these video services on a self-serve basis for a low monthly cost. Its founder is Maher Hakim and he tells us about it in this “Quick Query.”

PeC: What is Faculte?

Maher Hakim: “Faculte markets and develops a product called the Faculte Broadcast Studio, which is web-based software for producing and publishing online video, and it’s specifically designed for businesses and professionals.”

PeC: How can video help an ecommerce business?

Hakim: “Well, let me answer this question by giving you a concrete example. I recently was in the market to buy a sunroom kit to add to my house. There were three things I was looking for: to understand what the product would look like on my house, how hard it will be for me to install it, and I was looking for some customer feedback and testimonials about the product.

“There was one particular vendor that had all of these questions answered on its website through various videos that showed the product after installation at various settings that helped me visualize what it would look like on my house. They also had a number of videos on how to install the product and how easy it is to put together.

“Then they had some customer testimonials with real people telling me in the video about how great and satisfied they were with the product. I think that’s what sold me.

“I thought maybe I’m biased because I have a product that helps vendors create online videos and maybe other people don’t really have that [same reaction] after they see the videos. So, I called the vendor, and he said, ‘Eighty percent of the people who call me tell me they made this call because of the videos,’ and he said, ‘I cannot tell you how pleased I am with my marketing team for taking the effort in creating these videos and putting them on the website. All I do right now is take orders. I don’t have to answer questions about how hard it is to install, customer testimonials, all that stuff.’

“I tend to agree. I think video on a website has become a very great way to communicate your value to your customers online.”

PeC: What sort of tips would you offer merchants for including video?

Hakim: “Well, the first thing is don’t spend a lot of money producing the video. With the existing tools today, including Faculte’s Broadcast Studio, you can produce a professional-looking video about your product very cheaply. It’s going to look great and it’s going to stream great on your website and it’s going to look like it’s professionally produced by a production house.

“Secondly, there are a lot of tools in the market that help you with the process of producing and editing and publishing and even modifying the video, and it is important to look for a vendor that can give you the ability to do the entire life cycle with one product. You want to look for a service that can give you sort of the A to Z features of the entire life cycle, also producing or publishing the video.

“A third tip is that video doesn’t have to always be something you have to shoot with a video camera. You can create a really nice video by stringing together some photos and putting some music and audio and narration and description on top of that. It looks and feels like a video to the end user.”

PeC: Should every ecommerce product have a video?

Hakim: “No. AV cable, for example, you don’t need a video for an AV cable.”

PeC: Does your service take the place of video editing software?

Hakim: “In 75 percent of the cases, the answer is yes. Video editing software is really created and meant for entertainment professionals, but our video platform is specifically designed for businesses and professionals.

“We have stripped down the editing features to the minimal pieces that most business professionals will need for creating product demos, tutorials, and customer testimonials. You can put together a professionally-created video yourself rather than hire a professional, and you will be happy with the results.”

PeC: Does your service also include a way for merchants to stream their video onto their site?

Hakim: “Absolutely. Our video player has a lot of nice capabilities. For example, you can brand it. When you put it in your website, you can have your logo and your colors in the video player itself.

“It can also be embedded from the site itself or launched in a nice effect on top of the web page. The player can also be embedded in other websites, like blogs that talk about your product with the video playing in it.”

PeC: How does one embed the player into a shopping cart?

Hakim: “The player is embedded the same way you embed a YouTube video or a Flickr photo slideshow in any website. It’s as simple as getting the piece of code, and cutting and pasting that in the webpage.”

PeC: How much does the Faculte service cost?

Hakim: “The professional plan starts at $50 a month, and we also have a free trial plan available for people to experiment with the software and see if they like it and want to use it.”

PeC: For the professional plan, is there a limit on the amount of video that is streamed or viewed?

Hakim: “There is, but that limitation I believe is not going to be exceeded by a significant number of small merchants. But, if you feel that you’re going to exceed the number of views available with the $50 plan, you can always add additional views on an a la carte basis.”

PeC: Anything else on your mind for our readers?

Hakim: “Yes. With the emergence of social media today, your web presence needs to be distributed. It’s no longer just sufficient to have a website and get people to it. When you start using tools that allow you to create video or slideshows or product descriptions or product sheet , think about the tools that allow you to take that content with you to various places and not just publish it to your website. Faculte enables you to create that product video, take it with you, demonstrate it and show it in places on the web other than your website.”

Practical Ecommerce

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  1. Mike Darnell October 3, 2009 Reply

    I was very pleased to read this interview with Maher Hakim.
    Much of what Maher says echoes things we’ve learned with our own clients, namely that video enriched product listings can increase conversion rates by anything from 35% (for eyebuydirect.com) to over 300% (for certain product pages within Forzieri.com’s site).

    I’m curious to hear how Maher and his team view automated video solutions such as our own:

    In a nutshell we create automated product videos directly from an etailer’s XML, with little or no human involvement at all (narrated videos still require a person to be part of the process). The automation of the process enables us to cover handle an ecommerce’s entire catalog with video within 24 hours.

    Furthermore, we don’t simply create a single video for each product, but a few, for which we then run automated A/B testing for to measure optimal conversions – perpetually dropping the less effective versions.

    I look forward to hearing your responses : )

    For more information check us out at http://treepodia.com and join the discussions on our Facebook page at: http://bit.ly/NrZSP

    Cheers,
    Mike