Video is the most compelling medium for showcasing eCommerce products. Text explains the benefits of a product. Images capture a shopper’s attention and create an emotional connection. But only video harnesses words, images, and sound, a combination that delivers an abundance of creative possibilities resulting in longer engagement.
But many eCommerce retailers approach video with hesitation. Videos are more difficult and expensive to produce and edit than images. Video files can be large and potentially expensive to upload and host. However, there is ample evidence that well-produced videos are worth the cost.
In this article, we’re going to look at why eCommerce retailers should use video and how they can host videos without breaking the bank.
Why Use Video For Your eCommerce Store?
Videos generate more engagement than other types of content. People watch videos for longer, they watch more of them, and they share them more frequently.
But eCommerce retailers aren’t interested in engagement for its own sake; we’re selling products, not advertising. Do product and promotional videos move the needle on metrics that eCommerce retailers care about?
The short answer is yes. Videos are shown to increase sales, conversions, traffic, and brand visibility.
For example, footwear retailer Zappos benefits from a 30 percent sales boost on pages that include video product demonstrations. Three-quarters of businesses report that video helps them to increase sales. After watching a video, 46 percent of users carry out a related action. The web has no shortage of statistics that show video works to increase sales, but why does it work?
Video Reduces Customer Doubt
Doubt is the biggest killer of eCommerce conversions. In a brick-and-mortar store, shoppers use all of their senses to assess a product. They pick it up, turn it around, test its weight and durability, even smell it.
None of that is possible on an eCommerce store. Without video, all shoppers can base a decision on is a few images, some text, and the opportunity to return a product if it doesn’t meet their needs.
Video doesn’t eliminate doubt, but it helps customers feel more confident about what they are buying. Video can show a three-dimensional view of products and demonstrate them in real-life scenarios. Video also presents more opportunities to make a product appear desirable.
Research from the e-Tailing Group and Invodo shows that 57 percent of shoppers are more confident after watching a video. They are also less likely to return a product bought after watching a video.
Videos Expose Products to a Wider Market
Google is the biggest search engine in the world. The second biggest isn’t Bing or DuckDuckGo; it’s YouTube. There are more than 3 billion searches of YouTube each month and YouTube videos reach a larger audience than any cable network.
YouTube is the number one research destination for shoppers seeking information about a product. Millions of shoppers prefer to learn about products online before making a purchase. Mobile users, in particular, rely on videos for product information.
If an eCommerce business doesn’t use video, it can’t benefit from YouTube search and may miss out on sales from shoppers whose online life is dominated by video.
Hosting eCommerce Videos
Video files are large. They need a lot of bandwidth and storage. That doesn’t mean hosting videos for an eCommerce store has to be expensive. But retailers do need to understand the video hosting landscape to minimize cost and labor.
There are three basic options for video hosting:
- The store’s eCommerce hosting plan
- A third-party file hosting service
- A video streaming platform
Let’s look at the pros and cons of each option.
Perhaps the easiest option is to upload videos to a WooCommerce or Magento hosting server and install a plugin like Easy Video Player.
But self-hosting on an eCommerce server is probably the worst option. For all but the smallest stores, it is more expensive than the alternatives.
Take a look at the bandwidth and storage allocations of your eCommerce store’s hosting plan. A short product video might be 100 MB. If 10 people watch it, they consume approximately 1 GB of bandwidth. If a thousand people watch it, that’s 100 GB. Consider what happens when there are dozens of 100 MB videos with hundreds of people watching each one.
eCommerce hosting plans are not configured to handle the bandwidth and storage demands of video hosting. A busy eCommerce store will quickly blow past its allocation limits and start incurring overage charges. It is also possible for video streaming to saturate a store’s network connection, degrading performance and preventing shoppers from loading pages.
For all but the smallest of stores, self-hosting of videos is not a viable option.
Third-Party File Hosting Services
A cloud file hosting service is better optimized to support the large bandwidths required for streaming video. There are many generic cloud file hosting services that are considerably less expensive than self-hosting.
It is possible to simply upload video files to these cloud platforms, but they each provide dedicated video distribution and media streaming services that larger eCommerce stores should consider. For example, AWS Media Services includes file transcoding and media-optimized storage (which is S3 under the covers). Azure offers a similar range of services.
Generic cloud platforms have the features eCommerce store owners need to host video, but they can be challenging to use for retailers who aren’t experienced cloud users. An alternative is to use a managed video hosting service.
For WooCommerce and WordPress users, VideoPress is a cost-effective solution. VideoPress is an easy-to-use video hosting service that integrates with WordPress via the Jetpack plugin collection. Businesses with paid Jetpack plans already have access to VideoPress. Premium and Professional plans benefit from unlimited views and a global high-speed content delivery network optimized for video.
Wistia is a video hosting solution that can integrate into most eCommerce applications. Wistia includes video conversion, hosting, and analytics tools focused on video marketing.
Managed video hosting services are typically used by eCommerce retailers that want to exercise complete control over their content without being required to hire technical staff to configure and manage complex cloud deployments.
Embedding Videos From Video Streaming Services
We have left the most obvious option until last: uploading videos to a streaming site like YouTube and embedding them on an eCommerce store. YouTube is the largest video streaming service, but there are others, most notable Vimeo.
YouTube is certainly the least expensive video hosting option. Retailers can host any number of videos for free. YouTube also takes care of distribution and is unmatched in its infrastructure, guaranteeing fast video streaming. Moreover, as mentioned at the top of this article, YouTube is the second biggest search engine in the world and the site most shoppers turn to when seeking product information.
If a business hosts its videos on YouTube, they put a great deal of trust in the platform. YouTube can remove videos and accounts at its discretion. It offers limited options for branding, and the platform’s analytics are less capable than other platforms.
That said, for small to medium eCommerce stores, YouTube may be the best option. It’s cheap, easy, and effective.
Video has an important role to play in eCommerce content and conversion strategies. Smaller eCommerce stores that have avoided dipping their toes into the world of video may want to rethink that decision.
Video is less expensive to make, host, and distribute than it once was. It can have a transformative effect on engagement and sales. Video, augmented reality, and virtual reality will play an increasingly important role in the future of eCommerce. Copy and images may not be enough to compete against future-focused competitors.
About Graeme Caldwell – Graeme is a writer and content marketer at Nexcess, a global provider of hosting services, who has a knack for making tech-heavy topics interesting and engaging to all readers. His articles have been featured on top publications across the net, TechCrunch to TemplateMonster. For more content, visit the Nexcess blog and give them a follow at @nexcess.