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The internet has forever changed the business of retail. And while many successful companies have historically let other people sell their products, online it's much easier to get to consumers directly. But opening an etail site in 2009 is tricky business. That's the problem Mattel Inc. ran into when the toy maker decided to start selling products to customers this year.

How did they fix that? Video. Video. Video.

Starting in October, Mattel began selling its products on Shop.Mattel.com. Considering all of the locations that already sell its products (Amazon, Toys 'R' Us, basically anywhere else toys are sold), Mattel had to come up with a way to justify the sudden leap into direct sales.

The company approached customer engagement consultancy ConciseClick to help its transition into online sales. One thing that became particularly useful: technology that let Mattel tag its content in videos and send consumers to a purchase point.

"Mattel came to us with a problem. They were entering the e-commerce sector really late in the game," says Nick Alt, CEO of ConciseClick. "We saw an immediate issue — how do we increase customer engagement and make it less about being late and more about doing something innovative to warrant their entrance into the space."

Using ConciseClick technology, Mattel was able to add an element to its site that other retailers didn't use — and turn their videos into a direct sales tool. The toy company already had plenty of video content — in the form of cartoons, games and home movies that kids watch. But ConciseClick had the technology to help tie it into the site's purchasing platform.

According to Andres Amezquita, vice president of ecommerce at Mattel:

"We needed to help the gift giver better understand what the right toy to give is. Providing tagged content was a way to help them understand what the hot toys were in the right context. ConciseClick provided the right technology solution and a consultative approach which on the whole has as allowed us to solve for each piece of content instead of having a cookie cutter approach."

Many online sellers want to get into video online. But video is most successful when it is used for a specific purpose. Says Alt:

"Using interactive video as part of your ecommerce strategy is comparable to using a microwave instead of an oven. Interactive video more efficiently converts viewers into sales, by producing a lift of up to 30% and in instances some of our clients up to 50+%. Viewers can see, touch and nearly taste the product in the video."

The plan worked for Mattel. Customer engagement levels are up over 60% on Shop.Mattel.com. An average of 32% of Mattel's visitors watch a ConciseClick video. With the Barbie video below, 57% of viewers click on at least one product:

MattelShop.com - ConciseClick™ from Clear-Media on Vimeo.

Other videos have even higher click through rates. On Mattel's Hot Wheels Battle Force 5 video for instance, 89% of viewers click on at least one product. And the videos are also helping to improve sales. Of the top selling products on Mattel's website, 30-42% come from ConciseClick videos.

As for Mattel, the company is satisfied. Says Amezquita:

"As any new ecommerce store there are clear areas where we were short of our expectations and others where we were above expectations. ConciseClick was an area above. We were so happy with the initial results that we kept on adding projects to the scope of work."

Image and video: Mattel

Meghan Keane

Published 23 December, 2009 by Meghan Keane

Based in New York, Meghan Keane is US Editor of Econsultancy. You can follow her on Twitter: @keanesian.

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