October 27, 2009, 12:00 AM

OnlineShoes.com looks at video through a new lens

Instead of concentrating videos in just one section, Seattle-based web retailer OnlineShoes.com is now posting videos in other locations on its web site such as its new blog. The result: higher sales conversion.

When OnlineShoes.com, a Seattle-based web retailer with an inventory of more than 230,000 SKUs, produced its first videos two years ago, it posted the film snippets only on product pages. A year later, OnlineShoes.com created OnlineShoesTV.com as a separate web site to showcase its growing inventory of more than 200 videos. Today on OnlineShoesTV.com, a customer can search and watch hundreds of product and education videos, e-mail videos to friends or download video content to an iPhone and link to social media outlets.

But just as in real estate, designing and building a successful video program is all about finding the right location. After two years, OnlineShoes.com is refining where it’s placing product videos online and designing new formats that will increase the number of viewers – and buyers – that will click to open video content on its e-commerce site and elsewhere. Rather than placing all of its videos directly on OnlineShoesTV.com, the retailer is now embedding short video presentations in a new blog – Get In Gear – and varying the different kinds of videos it posts on YouTube. “Video production is a whole new dimension and that requires thinking about design in a different light,” says OnlineShoes.com chief marketing officer Peter Leech. “There’s nothing static about launching a video program – something is always changing.”

Most of the early videos produced by OnlineShoes.com were simple product and educational videos that ran from 12 seconds to 30 seconds and featured employees discussing the merits of a particular brand of shoe. But today video production – and creation – is much more sophisticated. “The biggest design issue we look at now is where to place the videos on the site in a way that’s going to create better optimization,” says Leech.

Today, OnlineShoes.com is still archiving all of its product videos on OnlineShoesTV.com, but the retailer also is taking advantage of other positions on its web site, including a new blog, to showcase its latest productions. “People get very passionate about shoes and the message we create in the video has to educate a customer about the specifics of a particular product or how to select the right shoe,” says Leech.

By designing a blog and making video a key component of the content, OnlineShoes.com creates daily interest in its latest production. “The video creates an interactive dialogue with the shopper and involves them in a way static content can’t,” says Leech. With a better approach to design and locating videos on the most heavily trafficked parts of the site, the effort is paying dividends, says Leech. Just about 5% of all visitors to a product page click to view the video on that page. When visitors also stay and watch a video on a specific product such as a pair of Fitwiz running shoes, the sales conversion is about 45% more than the site’s average conversion rate. “We are finding true commercial gains and a return on our investment in online videos,” says Leech.

OnlineShoes.com is No. 134 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide,

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