There are already plenty of strong arguments for the use of video on e-commerce sites, but here are some more from one retailer who has been using 360 product images and videos.
Gerrard Dennis of The Simply Group, which operates seven online stores, has been looking into the effectiveness of images and video on his websites, and has some interesting insight into how video and product photography has improved his sites' conversion rates...
Some stats from other online retailers which have used video:
- Using video demos of items on product pages increased sales for Zappos by between 6% and 30%.
- On Ice.com, the conversion rate for shoppers viewing video on product pages increased by 400%, while return rates dropped from 12% to 9%.
- Shoeline.com improved the conversion rate by 44% for product pages containing videos.
Alternative product images
Having found that some products sell only in certain colours, Gerrard found that there was a direct correlation between showing the product in that colour on the page, and the sales of that colour.
By simply adding that colour option to the choice of images on the product page increased sales threefold, so it's well worth the effort of taking another product photo and showing a picture of products in every available colour.
Alternative shots of products are essential, but having gathered feedback from customer services, Gerrard found that there is always an angle customers want to see products from that hasn't been displayed.
This led to the introduction of 360 degree rotating images on product pages, in addition to the range of static images.
The addition of these product views led to a 20% rise in conversion rates for these product pages, and also led to a drop in returns rates.
There is a caveat though; these 360 images cannot be produced quickly at the right quality, and the cost of equipment and staff also needs to be considered. In the case of Simply Group, 360 product images can take ten minutes per item to produce, and with more than 7,500 SKUs on the site doing this for very page isn't possible.
Also, 360 views tend to work better for smaller products, and don't suit all product types. In the case of bags and backpacks, it cannot show the whole product, while clothing can be difficult to display in this way.
At the same time, Gerrard was looking at the possibility of using product videos for the simplypiste site. The simplybeach site already had catwalk-style videos for swimwear, but this wouldn't necessarily work for technical ski clothing.
The answer was to use videos shot with specialist advisors showing the different features of the products, more akin to the kind of advice you might find in stores.
This product page for a backpack is one example of this in use, but Simply now has these product videos on hundreds of pages on the various sites.
The beauty of it is that the video is embedded into the page, so customers can quickly view it without leaving the page, and having seen the video, there is a clear call to action next to the screen.
The results of adding videos was even more impressive than for 360 views, a 25% increase in conversion rates, and far fewer returns.
According to Gerrard Dennis, thanks to the work on images and video, Simply Group's returns rates are now closer to that of a normal high street retailer than of other e-commerce sites.
The key here is that, along with all the other information on the products pages, these videos answer all the questions which customers may have about products, bringing it closer to the in-store experience.
In fact, Gerrard argues that this can be better than the in store experience, since 'you get the most knowledgable member of staff each time, not just the Saturday guy.'
Investment / costs of producing video
The results are impressive, but adding videos to product pages requires investment in staff and technology.
In the case of Simply Group, the company decided that product photography and video would be a key USP, and set up a studio and employed staff to produce photos and videos, all in-house.
We took a big, bold investment with no guarantees for a company of our size. Today, would I make a different decision? Absolutely not. Is it paying for itself? Yes, but to actually get a respectable number of products shot per week, spun, and videoed takes a huge financial commitment.
Given the results achieved by using 360 views and product video, it's hard to argue against their use on e-commerce sites, though some very big names (Tesco, John Lewis) don't use video, yet.
There are considerations in terms of the investment required, though this has clearly paid off in this case. It doesn't necessarily have to be done in-house as is the case with Simply Group, there are plenty of agencies for this.
It should be noted though, that video will only be truly effective when used on a product page and website which is already well designed.
Simply's product pages display clear information on delivery and returns, product reviews are included, there is a live chat option, while calls to action are clear. In short, the pages do everything possible to answer customer concerns about the product and delivery.
If any other retailers have experienced similar uplift from using video and product imagery, or even if this hasn't worked so well for you, let us know in the comments below...