July 17, 2008, 12:00 AM

PetsUnited makes its online video debut

PetsUnited is rolling out a multi-million-dollar online video program that will place more than 3,000 product and education videos on its 10 e-commerce sites. So far visitors have viewed about 500,000 sessions each day, CEO Alexander Tabibi says.

In online pets supplies retailing, a single picture-or image-isn’t nearly enough to sell a complicated horse tack or bridle.

With detailed and custom equine products, shoppers want more detail. To give them more information, PetsUnited LLC, No. 194 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, is rolling out an ambitious and multi-million-dollar online video program that will place more than 3,000 product and educational videos on its 10 e-commerce sites.

On Horse.com, which sells a variety of riding gear such as saddles, girths, reins and stirrups, customers can now click on product and educational videos that are approximately three minutes long.

In addition to explaining more about a particular product, such as how a saddle should be cared for or the proper way to secure a horse in a trailer, the videos help PetsUnited customers do a better job of getting information on selecting, measuring and ordering custom products. “Equine products are very complicated and video provides a better way to understand them,” says PetsUnited CEO Alexander Tabibi.

Within the next year, PetsUnited, which operates niche pets supplies sites such as Bird.com, Dog.com and Ferret.com, expects to have product and educational videos that showcase most of its inventory of about 17,000 SKUs.

The online retailer uses some existing videos. For Dog.com, PetsUnited is working with the American Kennel Club to post educational videos that supply information on about 150 dog breeds. But most videos-which take about a month to write, script, shoot and edit-are done in PetsUnited’s new production facility. “We are putting millions of dollars into this,” Tabibi says.

PetsUnited isn’t disclosing much sales information about the new video program. “The industry statistics show that a sale tied to a video is about 50% higher and we fit that,” Tabibi says.

But the videos are popular. In the first four months after posting various videos on its different web sites, visitors have clicked on and viewed about 500,000 sessions each day, he adds.

PetsUnited sees video as a big part of its future as an online retailer. “Putting up videos is becoming a necessity for us,” Tabibi says. “We like to experiment and push the boundaries.”

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