A few weeks back I wrote a post about how the top five UK ecommerce brands use Pinterest

As you can probably tell by reading some of my posts I’m a sucker for video content, so today I’m going to be focusing on those same brands but looking at their activity on YouTube.

Just to recap, the top five ecommerce brands in the UK according to the Internet Retailing UK Top 500 are:

  1. Amazon UK.
  2. Argos.
  3. House of Fraser.
  4. John Lewis.
  5. Marks & Spencer.

Amazon: 55k subscribers, 68m views

As with its Pinterest account, much of Amazon’s video content is a direct promotion of its products or services.

But there is some really nice visual content going on, like this clip promoting its Handmade store.

Amazon has also used YouTube to promote some of its experiential marketing campaigns, like this video promoting its ‘Prime Day.’

Incidentally, Prime Day is supposedly offering ‘more deals than Black Friday,’ so it will be interesting to see how that goes.

As I mentioned in the Pinterest post, Amazon has a range of videos called Amazon Shorts, and these are a feature on its YouTube channel.

The clips are mainly tips and tricks around anything from cooking to home improvements, naturally featuring Amazon products that are linked to in the blurb below the video. 

Most successful video

Amazon’s most successful YouTube video, with 31m views, is a frankly awful advert for the Amazon app. It’s quite telling that the video has a very low rating despite a huge number of views. 

I’m going to focus on its second-most successful video instead: this clip promoting Amazon Prime Air. I love it because it uses natural sounds as oppose to background music or cheesy voiceovers that Amazon seems so keen on usually. Oh, and it has a drone in it.

Top comment says it all.

Argos: 24k subscriber, 45m views

Argos has lots of videos aimed at children, which makes sense given its product range but also considering that YouTube is known for being popular with younger internet users. 

Many of the kid-focused videos feature a new toy unboxing, like this clip about the Golden Furbling. *Shudder*.

For the older generation, there are a whole range of clips featuring adult ‘toys’. Ahem, I mean like tools and garden stuff.

These support videos are particularly good, because who actually reads a paper instruction manual these days?

Along similar lines, Argos has a series of bite-sized animated clips featuring helpful suggestions for some of its products.

This very seasonal example shows people how to set their fridge/freezer to holiday mode. 

There are also some in-depth buying guides for a number of different product ranges. I think this is a good idea because I always found the buying guides in the Argos catalogue quite helpful all those years ago when online shopping wasn’t a thing. 

I’ve given Argos quite a lot of airtime here, but that’s because it seems to have put quite a lot of effort into its YouTube content and I think there are some good lessons for other retailers in there. 

The last thing I’m going to show you is how Argos features its celebrity endorsers on its YouTube channel, such as this clip of Argos Live (is that actually a thing?) with Katie B.

Or this clip of Emma Bunton promoting the Argos summer clothing range. 

Most successful video

With 12m views, Argos’ most successful YouTube clip is this short Monster High clip shown exclusively on the Argos channel.

I’m sorry to say I watched the whole two-and-a-half minutes. I’m still unclear as to the subtle nuances of the plot, but bizarrely enough I did just phone my fiancé and tell her to pick up a Monster High playset on the way home. 

House of Fraser: (subscribers not shown), 1.3m views

Of course there is plenty of fashion-focused and seasonal content here. This clip of the most stylish game of tennis ever is one of the most popular things House of Fraser has put out recently. 

House of Fraser sponsored the BAFTAs this year, so there is naturally a lot of content related to that.

This mashup of the ceremony is not going to rival Cassette Boy any time soon, but it’s a good idea and done quite well. 

And what’s not to love about this behind the scenes footage of the Hound of Fraser casting?

House of Fraser has a lot of celebrity-focused content on its YouTube channel, which is always going to be the case with fashion brands. 

This celebrity advice series with Mary Portas proved fairly popular. 

Or this almost-NSFW behind the scenes clip featuring Heidi Klum promoting her new lingerie range. 

House of Fraser also has a series named ‘Style My…’ where it shows you how to dress and accesorise in a variety of situations, such as this ‘Style My Hangover’ clip.

Most successful video

The most successful video on House of Fraser’s YouTube channel is its Christmassy take on a classic fairy tale story, suggesting your crippling loneliness can be solved by something as simple as buying a dress. 

The video only has 474k views, however, which is very low compared to some of the others in this post. 

John Lewis: 59k subscribers, 60m views

John Lewis splits its YouTube content mainly by product type, from home and garden to fashion or electronics. 

This ‘digital art exhibition’ featuring a range of John Lewis-stocked televisions is quite a nice way to combine experiential marketing and visually pleasing video content. 

As you would except from any retailer worth its salt, John Lewis goes heavy on the seasonal stuff, like this clip in which it asked a group of children what they would put on their back to school list. 

Some of the most popular videos on the John Lewis channel are the ones featuring fashion tips. The example below also uses influencer marketing via popular fashion blogger Monica Beatrice Welburn from The Elgin Avenue.  

There are also a number of tips videos relating to specific types of clothing, like this video advising pregnant women on how to choose a maternity bra.

The #JLCook series is a good one for any foodies, featuring some pretty decent recipe clips. I particularly like this pizza toppings video because of its simplicity and use of natural sound effects over annoying background music. 

Most successful video

As if you need to ask. It’s that penguin of course. You know, the one that had its own premiere in London and made people feel more emotional than the first time they watched Forrest Gump. That one.

So far it has clocked up a very healthy 23m views.

Marks & Spencer: 23k subscribers, 26m views

M&S is famous for its near-pornographic food ads, and its YouTube channel certainly doesn’t disappoint in that department. 

This clip introduces you to some of the breweries where M&S gets some of its craft beers. It’s nice to see behind the scenes and the camera work is pretty decent, too. 

There are also plenty of recipe ideas, such this one from its Christmas baking tips series.

M&S also has a channel dedicated to its TV ads, most of which are food-related and tend to get a lot of views. 

Of course there are lots of videos around the M&S fashion and beauty ranges, many of them using influencer marketing again to promote certain products. 

This clip features model and actress Rosie Huntington-Whiteley talking about her signature perfume.

As we’ve seen with other retailers above there are a number of hints and tips videos, such as this makeup tutorial. 

Most successful video

Marks and Spencer’s most popular YouTube offering is also its 2014 Christmas ad, although with 3m views it has a long way to go before reaching the dizzying heights of John Lewis penguin stardom.

Conclusion: people love tips and Christmas

A strange subheading, but seemingly true. Aside from the big-hitting Christmas adverts, the vidoeos that seems to get the most traction on YouTube for these ecommerce giants are the ones featuring tips and advice. 

This makes sense given that most people go to YouTube or Google for advice these days anyway, so not only does it help existing customers but it also helps bring in some of that search traffic.