E-commerce is on the rise. With high street footfall down -1.3% this year, consumers are ditching bags for bytes as online shopping has grown by nearly two-thirds in 2019. Time spent in brick and motor stores has decreased 5% year on year with consumers now shopping online for an average of 16 minutes a day. As shopfronts become increasingly digital, brands are investing more in e-commerce capabilities – and it’s big business. In fact, digital sales are predicted to grow 10.9% this year to reach £106.46bnillion, or 22% of total retail sales (£476.65bn) in 2019. This means transactions via electronic devices account for £2 out of every £10 in revenue, with £1+ of that coming from mobile users alone. By 2023, phone purchases will account for 71% of digital sales. And by 2028, more than half of all retail sales will be online due to its flexibility and convenience. So, buying habits are moving towards an on-the-go, mobile-first future. But this poses a problem – how do you translate the sensory experience of shop bought purchases to online? Video, I think, gets you pretty close.
E-commerce communications have shifted from copy-heavy product descriptions to audio-visual experiences, with 79% of consumers preferring to watch a video to learn about a product than read text on a page (The State of Video Marketing 2017,” Wyzowl, 2017). We want to be shown, not told. From multi-angle product close ups to longer-form branded content, the medium allows advertisers to show off their products and services in an immersive way that imagery simply can’t. Augmented reality (AR) pushes this one step further by letting people experience products in 3D, from trying on the latest Adidas shoes to holding an exclusive Louis Vuitton bag – all within their mobile device. Retailers can even offer true-to-scale renders of their product range, with the IKEA Place app letting customers see how more than 2,200 furniture items would fit in their homes with pinpoint accuracy.
With only 9% of the UK population not using the internet regularly, online visibility is key to business success. Video can increase organic website traffic by 157% whilst doubling page dwell time, which in turn boosts search engine rankings. It can also improve online conversions by 85%. If you create good content on your website, people will hang around for longer. Simple.
More than two-thirds of the UK population use social media regularly, so communication planners are upweighting budgets into Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat to meet their clients’ marketing goals. The major platforms know this and have been improving their performance offering with retargeting pixel and catalogue upload improvements, whilst reducing the barriers to purchase with in-app checkout. E-commerce ad formats such as carousels, collections and instant experiences all share video capabilities that allow brands to show how their products react in the real world with an average ROI of 5.3x (Facebook case study, Mar 2017). Instagram is fast becoming a mobile shopfront with 130 million accounts engaging with IG shopping stickers every month, whilst organic video shopping posts are also being tested as self-serve ads to reach target audiences at scale.
Brands need to be looking at ways to bring products and people closer together in the digital environment, whilst being mindful of mobile-first browsing behaviour. Video has become the modern buyer’s guide that can inspire, inform and attract users to make more informed purchase decisions. If David Ogilvy’s advice for effective advertising is to ‘make the product the hero’ (Ogilvy on Advertising p.18), then video acts as the supporting cast that ties everything together.