November 30, 2012, 12:00 AM

Computers / Electronics

Selling electronics via video.

Lead Photo

Some shoppers may be uneasy about purchasing a $2,000 flat-screen television over the Internet. Perhaps they prefer spending time with a sales representative in a physical store who can show them a range of products and offer recommendations, installation tips and other advice.

Online retailers are wooing such shoppers by offering a personal touch, which is especially important in the increasingly competitive category of computers and electronics, where product prices are high and products can be confusing. Merchants in this year's Hot 100 provide loads of content on their pages, from detailed specifications to tutorials. And most also make extensive use of video.

Electronics parts retailer SparkFun, for example, offers technical support, free engineering software and how-to guides. Video tutorials are a key part of its content strategy, as the Education Department section of its web site features a slew of content, including everything from buying guides for GPS devices to a tutorial on learning to solder.

Best Buy Co. Inc. also emphasizes video, as it aims to replicate, in part, its in-store shopping experience. An entire section at the bottom of its home page includes videos that show staffers clad in blue Best Buy T-shirts demonstrating the new features of Windows 8 or top deals of the week. The merchant also has nearly 4,500 YouTube subscribers and 5.3 million video views. Its YouTube channel is much flashier than others, too, as it is broken down by categories such as entertainment, technology solutions, and Best Buy-exclusive music videos. The channel also has specific links to a deal on BestBuy.com, and its store locator.

However, TigerDirect.com trounces SparkFun and Best Buy on YouTube, with more than 82,000 subscribers and 108.5 million video views. Nearly every product page on TigerDirect.com—featuring everything from $1,500 televisions to $40 wall mounts—has a video attached to it. The e-retailer's content illustrates that videos don't have to be elaborate to be popular. Many are simple, with a male voice-over describing product features and dimension, static images of the product and written displays of customer comments.

In a category where many products are complex and expensive, it seems information in any format helps reassure shoppers that it makes sense to buy online.

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