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Video Makes the Omni-Channel Retail Star


A former editor used to tell me “A picture is worth a thousand words – a thousand words you don’t have to write.” For omni-channel retailers, the value of video is even greater than that of still photography to journalists. As the popularity of online video content continues to climb with consumers, retailers ignore its potential as a means of customer engagement at their own risk.

The continued popularity of YouTube and prevalence of Facebook video postings, as well as soaring popular interest in social video platforms such as Twitter Vine and Video on Instagram, all demonstrate the fact that consumers are increasingly making online video a part of their daily lives. News sites increasingly offer popular stories in video format.

Any medium involving an electronic screen inherently lends itself better to video than text, which in digital format can be taxing on the eyes and hard to digest in bulk, especially on the smaller screens that are coming to dominate the world of Internet access. Many consumers probably expect your e-commerce, m-commerce and social pages, and even in-store digital devices, to feature video. Many more may not expect it but would surely appreciate it.

However, an intelligent omni-channel video strategy involves more than simply collecting a bunch of video content and throwing it in consumer’s faces. Retailers need to consider where consumers are, what type of Internet access they are using and what services they require.

Different video platforms fill different customer needs

For example, Lowe’s uses Twitter Vine videos, which are capped at six seconds each, to provide quick demonstrations of simple DIY tasks like removing a stripped screw from a hole. Obviously consumers using Vine are not seeking in-depth instructions on complex tasks and the high degree of mobile Twitter usage makes it an ideal platform for delivering real-time, how-to tips.

Meanwhile, YouTube is a good home for longer videos guiding users through multi-step projects or the features of complex, expensive products such as automobiles and home electronics. Social networks like Facebook and Pinterest are ideal platforms for letting consumers share their own videos evangelizing a retailer’s brand and/or products. A retailer’s home page, as well as in-store digital displays, are good locations for displaying shorter promotional videos and demos. Retailers may want to display different videos on their mobile sites that are better suited for a small screen.

Video evolves as full-fledged channel

Video technology is also evolving to the point where retailers can conduct video commerce. Using interactive video solutions, retailers can let customers click on items displayed on videos for purchase and also select different parts of a video for close-up views, customize certain aspects of a video and even engage in simulated conversations with video characters.

Thus the video format is moving beyond a means of promoting, demonstrating and explaining products and evolving into a separate channel in and of itself, rather than as simply an add-on feature for existing channels. Any omni-channel retail strategy truly worthy of the name needs to incorporate video to some degree today; before long video will stand on its own as a customer engagement and transactional tool equal in importance to brick-and-mortar, online, social and mobile.

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