The Christmas Book catalog from Neiman Marcus is known for its colorful, full-page imagery and elegant design. It also has an avid following of shoppers. Responding to queries and suggestions by customers and the mainstream media, Neiman Marcus last year decided to show shoppers just how The Christmas Book is made, bringing it to life on its e-commerce site via online video technology.
“The week we launch our Christmas catalog we get a lot of national media coverage. So for the past few years we’ve been putting together video news releases,” says Brendan Hoffman, president and CEO of Neiman Marcus Direct. “Bringing video to the web site was a natural step in the evolution of this concept.” Neiman Marcus is No. 37 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide.
The online video of “the making of” appears on screen in a prominent position to the left of the catalog cover. It does not start automatically, though, giving shoppers the choice to activate the technology or not. The retailer outsourced the production of the video for what Hoffman describes as a “fairly nominal” cost, adding that online video “is not a major investment and involves very little financial risk.”
The retailer had been considering adding online video for a couple years. But Hoffman at first was skeptical, worrying about the effects the technology could have on shoppers’ web experiences.
“I was reluctant to put video on the web site because I wasn’t convinced it wouldn’t slow down the shopping experience,” Hoffman says. “Historically we’ve seen much of our shopping being done during the work week-people at home still were using dial-up and we did not want to burden them. During the last nine months or so, we’ve seen more shopping in the evenings. The penetration of broadband has increased, and that allowed us to put additional content like video on the site.”
Neiman Marcus has always been about the theater of what goes around gifts, the excitement of gifts, Hoffman adds. “The online video is a great step toward helping create an in-store experience online.”