Can businesses learn anything from how retailers use video? - Business Web TV

Posted by | January 16, 2014 | B2B, Retail, Video Industry | No Comments

If you’re buying anything off the Internet, or if you are just browsing prior to a shopping trip, chances are you now have the option of viewing a video before you buy. With more than 50% of high street and online retailers using video and that number growing rapidly is there anything the business user can learn from retailers’ experience of the medium?

Retailers using video

Retailers such as River Island and US company Summit Sports have invested heavily in product video technology and reports from the retail industry suggest like for like sales increase by anything from 120 – 400% with the addition of video.

The first thing to note is that there are three broad categories of video used by retailers – Product, Process and Promotion. In simple terms the product video is a demonstration looking in detail at the item itself (this is where volumes are coming from), the process may be how the item is manufactured or how orders are handled, inducing order picking, distribution centres etc., and finally the promotion video is purely for selling, ie an advertisement.


The kind of product video varies greatly, from something that is no more than a moving version of a static image, for example a model walking along wearing a pair of jeans, to an in-depth view of those same jeans including a close-up of the fabric, seams, zipper, labels, packaging etc. As a rule the more detail the better but remembering the video still has to be short.

The other factor to consider is whether the retailer sells exclusively from the website or if they have a high street presence and there is an expectation that shoppers will also visit the store to get their hands on the product.

For B2B sectors the need for video will partly be governed by either the complexity or rarity (or both) of the product. Having a video for a ream of A4 paper would be overkill, after all most people know what paper looks like, but if you are selling complex product or services, such as a gas fueled power station video is a must. Also you are less likely to have a power station in your samples bag to show the customer. In conclusion then product videos generally only have a place in B2B sectors if the product or service on offer is rare, unusual, big or expensive.


For many retailers the process often focuses on logistics but video can add real value by focusing on things such as design, R&D, sourcing from supplies across the world, unique or unusual manufacturing processes and of course the people involved.

The same is true of B2B and most of the videos Business Web TV produces fall into this category. The story behind the product becomes even more important if that final product is perceived as very similar to competitors and easily substituted. The video becomes part of selling the sizzle.


I’ve said elsewhere in this blog that promotional videos need to be treated as an advertisement. Most of the big retailers understand this and their promotional web videos are often closely related to TV advertisements with high production values that shine through. Once they have been to the expense of shooting a big budget video it makes sense to re-edit and re-use whenever possible.

Most business users will be working to a budget but they must still strive to follow the example of retail by firstly having an original idea behind the video – why not consider animation for example as this can be a similar cost to live action productions or introducing an element of humour (be careful). Time spent on planning and storyboarding ideas at the outset will save time and money down the line and it may be worth using professionals at this point who can tease out the essence of what is required.

Although John Lewis spent an estimated £7m on their 2013 Christmas advertisement it had received 40,000 mentions online before it had even been shown. In three months it racked up 18m views on YouTube. Now this kind of coverage is really only the preserve of big brands but not necessarily big budgets. For our business users where the finished video can be seen is every bit as important as video itself. A clear delivery strategy is required at the outset that should consider the website (of course), social media (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest), online advertising, email marketing, print campaigns (QR codes and Blippar), exhibitions and events, PR and print. For B2B we recommend a target of 60 – 85% of video views off site.

Great retail videos can and should be a real inspiration to B2B marketers. Even with a limited budget if you find the right production partner you can make video an important part of your marketing strategy.

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