CEO Sharon Price John says Build-A-Bear’s old e-commerce system is a big reason for disappointing online sales in December.
Offering thousands of product videos is helping customers and boosting mobile conversion.
A woman who recently purchased a stroller from British baby products retailer Kiddicare was having a problem folding it on her first trip out. So she pulled out her smartphone, went to Kiddicare’s mobile commerce site, searched for the stroller and pulled up the product page. There she clicked on a clearly labeled button for playing a video of the product in action and viewed the video on her smartphone. She learned the proper way of folding the stroller and off she went.
Kiddicare has produced more than 2,500 product videos since 2006, offering them on its e-commerce site, m-commerce site, YouTube and a dedicated video site, Kiddicare.tv. These videos are doing much more than helping customers in need of assistance. They’re converting mobile shoppers into buyers.
“Video performs extremely well on the mobile site,” says Chris Wood, video production and project manager at Kiddicare. “About one-third of visitors watch videos and we are seeing in the region of 20% higher conversion on products after a video view as opposed to before a video view.”
The retailer’s video technology provider, Liveclicker Inc., hosts the videos and feeds them to the mobile site when a customer clicks on a video button. The customer’s smartphone-based video player—YouTube on the iPhone, for example—opens and plays the video. Liveclicker loads video in real time so there is no lag in waiting for an entire video file to download.
Kiddicare didn’t have to do much to the videos to make them mobile-friendly. Technically, they’re the same files. All Kiddicare did was to edit video length because it believes, like many mobile experts say, that mobile users expect shorter clips than they would find on the PC web. Wood says video length was trimmed during the transition from TV to computers, and the same must be done moving from computers to smartphones.
Not only is the merchant a step ahead of most retailers in mobile by offering video to on-the-go consumers, it’s ahead of the pack technically. It has formatted videos using HTML5, the new version of the common Internet programming language that enables programmers to make greater use of a smartphone’s innate features—and allows Apple devices that don’t run Flash video to run HTML5 video within a mobile web site page. This only works when a mobile web browser is capable of running HTML5, and few have added this functionality. For the time being, Kiddicare is happy with the performance of the iPhone’s built-in QuickTime player.
Mobile video is rare these days—most retailers are still wrapping their hands around the basics of m-commerce. But Wood says merchants should understand the value of mobile video sooner rather than later.
“I would be amazed that any retailer could not see that video is relevant to mobile commerce in the long term. However, I can understand the trepidation that they may see as in most cases retailers have not managed to harness the power of video on the desktop let alone in mobile,” he says. “But saying that video is not an important part of mobile commerce would be like saying a web site is not an important part of retail 12 years ago.”