Nearly every ecommerce merchant who uses product videos reports that it increases sales. But there are disagreements as to what to include in a product video, how to produce it and where to show it. Invodo is a company that specializes in assisting merchants with product videos, and its CEO, Craig Wax, is here to help us sort through the video issues that merchants face.
Practical eCommerce: Does video help every product that an ecommerce merchant may sell?
Craig Wax: “It really does. All consumers benefit from having products explained to them or demonstrated, and the degree to which the benefit is going to come through depends a lot on the product and the categories. So, if it’s a product that’s complex and has a lot of features, it might benefit more than a product that is fairly basic. But if you think about it, the experience that a consumer has online is not that different from the experience they have or hope to have when they’re in a store, which is they are able to see the product, handle it and get a sense for it and to that extent. Video really helps bring that same in-store experience to shoppers online.”
PEC: What if it’s a commodity-type of product, such as copy paper?
Wax: “A product like copy paper may not benefit as much from a video as a copier. So, I think you always have to use some judgment, but if there are some unique characteristics about copy paper, maybe its weight or the type of printer that it can go through and you see they can be best conveyed through a video, then absolutely. You can’t really rely on a consumer to read through all those types of details and some of them might be complex. So, again, I think any product can really benefit from a video.”
PEC: Our readers are mainly smaller ecommerce merchants. For those that are contemplating video or that are already producing video, is there must-have content for them? Should every video include, for example, the price, the brand and the description of the product?
Wax: “Well, the main thing is to focus on the product itself, certainly more so than the presenter. As you’re talking about the product, you have to think about it from the customers’ perspectives. What they want to know is whether this product is really for them. So you should always convey in a very fact-based way what the features and benefits are of the product and whom the product is for and if it’s a product that maybe is geared towards a beginner. Those are things that I think are standard across all products and should really be included.
“One of the things that you mentioned was price and I’d recommend not putting price into your video for a variety of reasons. First of all, often retailers sell the same product with different prices and then those prices also tend to change and so if there is information that is going to be dynamic in nature, sometimes it’s best to leave that out.”
PEC: What about production issues, such as length of the video, the physical distance the presenter is standing from the camera, and the use of a script or talking extemporaneously. What are your thoughts on those points?
Wax: “Well, there are a number of things that are taken into consideration across the range of topics that you just asked about. First of all, with regard to length, it really depends on the category and the product within the category. Certain products will lend themselves to longer videos and an example of that might be a highly complex GPS system where you want to demonstrate the range of features that it has and you might want to show the screenshots and how to go through the navigation.
“On the flip side, it might be something like a pair of shoes, where the consumer really wants to have a sense for how do the shoes look, maybe what they’re made of and what would they look like on a model’s foot. That type of video is going to be significantly shorter than the former one. But the key is to think about what does a consumer really need to know and not worry so much about length.”
PEC: But is there a maximum suggested length?
Wax: “You know, there are a lot of differences in thought on this topic. I think that once you get to the three- to four-minute range, you’re starting to get to the point where you may want to stop there. But an example of a product where you might want to go longer is an Internet-enabled TV. These are new products on the market. They are very different depending upon the brand and what services will come with a particular brand and how to hook it up. So, those types of products, you may want to go beyond three- to four-minutes.”
PEC: What about the use of a script?
Wax: “That’s a really good question as it comes to scripting and it really comes down to the presenter. What we’ve seen is that, typically, the videos come across more effectively if there is a script and that’s because if the person in front of the camera is a product manager or salesperson, they’re generally not that comfortable being in front of a camera and so having a script there becomes a way to really convey all the information that you want to get across. Now, if a person is very, very familiar with the product and also very comfortable being in front of the camera, then in those instances you could probably go without a script because it allows the person to be more natural and one of the key things for any presenter is to come across as very authentic and credible.
“Consumers at this stage for this type of video do not want to feel like they’re being sold to. They want to be educated and so credibility is the most important thing as well as just a clear, concise delivery of information and so if a script is going to help somebody achieve those objectives, then I’d say have a script and if you have any person who is very good to speak extemporaneously, then that type of person would not need a script.
PEC: Let’s talk about production quality. We’ve heard two schools of thoughts on production quality. First, we’ve heard that quality doesn’t much matter in terms of increasing conversion rates. You could use an inexpensive camera, and basic lighting. Second, we’ve heard experts suggest that it makes a big difference and that some merchants need to be very careful about the equipment they use and the lighting they use. So, what do you suggest in terms of production quality for product videos?
Wax: “I think production quality is very important because the quality of your videos is a reflection on your product and it’s a reflection on your company. I think when you’re looking at a video that’s well produced, it gives the consumer additional confidence in the product and the company that sells it. I think of lighting not only from making the consumer feel comfortable, but a lot of products don’t come across well in darkly-lit videos. So, I don’t think you can underestimate the importance of production quality.”
PEC: Are merchants capable of producing quality videos themselves?
Wax: “Some merchants are, but it’s going to take a significant investment in equipment, as well as time, to learn how to do it. It’s hard to really scale up and produce a significant number of videos on your own and then you have the whole issues around dealing with editing as well as distributing it. So, what we found is that it’s much more efficient both in terms of the time, quality and cost to work with a company like Invodo, who has developed systems to really produce high quality video at scale in a very cost efficient way.”
PEC: You mentioned distribution. Should a merchant try to syndicate or distribute the video across multiple channels?
Wax: “I think that once you’ve produced the video, the key is to get it into as many places you can as the consumer wants to see it. So, distribution is really important.
“The other thing to take into consideration if you’re going to distribute your video is the SEO [search engine optimization] impact.”
PEC: We’re curious about the metrics on YouTube for ecommerce merchants. Are YouTube visitors going to look at a commodity-type-product video, such as copy paper?
Wax: “One of the things to keep in mind is that people are watching billions and billions of videos on YouTube and that’s a lot of people. So, while commodity products are not the most sought-after videos on YouTube, they are being viewed. For example, we put a couple thousand of the videos that we’ve shot for various manufacturers up on YouTube and we’re generating over 300,000 views a month just for that small number of videos that we push out from our library.”
PEC: You’re the CEO of Invodo, a leading video company for ecommerce merchants. What services do you provide? How much do they cost?
Wax: “Invodo is a full service ecommerce video solution company. That means that we are working with our customers to drive conversion, get some SEO benefit and reduce returns from the consumers who do buy their products. We do that by really focusing on three key elements of the video process, which are creating content, running a video platform and then distributing the video to where consumers want to see it. That’s really what differentiates us. Most companies will focus on one, maybe two of those areas. We really do all three at scale, which is what allows us to do video production at a very reasonable cost.
“If somebody wanted to do one day a video production with us, that typically would cost around $3,000 and for the cost of $3,000, we’ll shoot as many of your products as we can get on a day and that would also include all the editing.”