April 17, 2007, 12:00 AM

Online video makes converts of DVD and gift shoppers

Vat19.com, a DVD and gift e-retailer, is blazing online video trails by making extensive use of the technology to entertain shoppers and help convert them into buyers.

Kurt Peters

Executive Editor

Online video is a hot topic in Internet retailing today. Vat19.com, a DVD and gift e-retailer, is blazing online video trails by making extensive use of the technology to entertain shoppers and help convert them into buyers.

Since December the e-retailer has rolled out more than 60 online videos. The videos include clips of educational and other DVDs and demonstrations of many of the merchant’s unusual products, such as a piggy bank with an LCD screen and a USB cannon that plugs into a personal computer and fires spongy missiles at a tap of the PC`s space bar.

“Our online videos show shoppers the product actually does work and gives them a sense of scale that you do not get from most photographs,” says Stefanie Hutson, marketing director. “They also show shoppers that we are a real company with real people that will not just take your credit card number and run. A lot of people still are skeptical of online shopping, especially older people. When you make a personal connection with shoppers, as is the case with the videos, it gives them confidence and trust in you as a retailer.”

The videos indeed show the company is run by real people because the actors appearing in many of the videos are Vat19.com employees (including one who donned a gorilla suit for a demo). The e-retailer’s in-house video production studio was present since Day One, used to create many of its DVDs. As one part of their jobs, three staff members create the videos, now launching 1 or 2 new ones every week.

“We have recorded an increase in conversion rates-some products have doubled conversion after the display of a video,” Hutson says. “And we’ve gotten a lot of positive e-mails, especially from our affiliates.” Affiliates are allowed to post the videos on their sites. Vat19.com also has posted some of the videos on YouTube.

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