Video Content is the New Frontier for Online Retailers
As more and more consumers turn to e-commerce and pivot away from brick-and-mortar shopping, online retailers continue to look for new ways to improve their customer experience. These retailers are increasingly making use of video content, which is rapidly becoming a key part of e-commerce platforms. For example, Google recently introduced a new video shopping platform, Shoploop, to provide consumers a more engaging and entertaining way to browse and find new products. E-commerce players understand that personalization is critical to driving more revenue, and they’ve come to realize that video content is a perfect way to deliver a customized user experience. Furthermore, video is more effective at converting customers than relying on simple text descriptions and images.
Video enriches online shopping in many ways. At a high level, it provides consumers a much more immersive and in-depth view of products, bringing them to life by demonstrating how they actually work in the real world. This is extremely important for consumers who are still mostly used to being able to touch and try products in brick-and-mortar settings. In addition, video gives retailers the chance to better showcase a brand’s creativity, personality and sense of humor, which goes a long way in connecting with target demographics.
However, while video content provides a major opportunity for online retailers, it also introduces some challenges. Broadly speaking, e-commerce platforms use two types of content: static and dynamic. Static content includes things like text and images. Essentially, static content is noninteractive. Conversely, dynamic content is interactive. It includes components like “buy now” and “save to wish list” buttons, as well as lists of recommended products that users can scroll across and click through. Dynamic content is richer than static content, so it takes longer to load and requires more computing resources to support.
Video is a form of highly dynamic content, placing even greater demands on e-commerce platforms than “buy now” buttons and recommendation engines. This content is prone to a number of errors if it isn’t properly supported. For instance, videos may pause to buffer or, even worse, crash while playing. These issues are a major inconvenience to users, damaging both the customer experience and the retailer’s reputation. Moreover, when video content strains e-commerce platforms with insufficient compute resources, it slows page load times and degrades the online shopping experience. Speed is one of the most important factors in e-commerce — the faster a platform loads, the better the conversion rate and the greater the revenue.
To add another wrinkle, online retailers are leveraging video content particularly for their mobile commerce platforms, which will soon eclipse traditional desktop e-commerce. Mobile commerce platforms face even greater challenges than PC-based e-commerce platforms when it comes to supporting dynamic content. There are several reasons for this, including mobile devices’ reliance on weaker cellular networks and the fact that these devices have far less processing power than PCs.
Ultimately, rich dynamic content like video comes with increased consumer expectations. Consumers expect videos to load quickly and play without interruption. When this content works smoothly, it delivers a captivating, personalized online shopping experience that drives more revenue. When it doesn’t, it causes a terrible annoyance that sends consumers away. E-commerce companies have to take advantage of video to harness its tremendous ability for engaging existing and new customers. However, they must think hard about how they will adequately support video to maximize its potential and avoid pitfalls.
Jim Brear is the CEO of Zycada, a platform that enables the fastest online shopping experience in the world by leveraging the power and scale of bot technology.
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