Better living through video

Living Direct reports increased sales of products featured in demonstration videos.

Allison Enright

After toying for months with the idea of adding video to its product pages of household items ranging from tankless water heaters and wine refrigerators to solar-powered cell phone chargers, Living Direct Inc. launched a video program on its collection of e-retail sites in March. Since then, it has seen conversions rise for products featuring video demonstrations and plans to record a new round of video demos soon, the retailer says.

Living Direct, No. 259 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, started with 25 products that it felt could especially benefit from a video demonstration. For example, one video describes how a portable ice maker works. “We chose things that were less commonplace and products that didn’t exactly tell what they did based on images alone. We figured if we can tell the story better on a product through video, let’s do that,” says Drew Leakey, vice president of marketing and business development at Living Direct.

The video demonstrations feature two employees and appear on two Living Direct-operated sites, LivingDirect.com and IceMakerDirect.com. The company wrote the scripts in-house and Leakey says the scripts include input from several departments, such as customer service, which detailed the most common questions consumers ask about the selected products.

But getting to that point was a long time coming, Leakey says. The company had a lot of concerns about what it would take to integrate video into the site in a way that would improve the customer experience, the company’s main purpose in deploying video. “For months, we had lots of conversations internally about doing video, but we had a huge fear of it,” he says. “We didn’t know what it was going to take to do it.”

Living Direct decided to work with Invodo Inc., an e-commerce video vendor also located in Living Direct’s home base of Austin, TX. Leakey says Invodo walked his team through the production process, including product selection and script development. Living Direct then recorded the 25 videos in one day at Invodo’s studio, and the process of introducing video took less than a month once the retailer reached an agreement with Invodo.

The videos went live about a week after they were produced and are hosted on Invodo’s network. That limited the I.T. work Living Direct had to do to adding some code to the product pages. “Every video is dynamically presented on the product page itself, so we don’t have to engage I.T.,” he says. Leakey and an Invodo representative declined to reveal the cost of the project, but an Invodo spokeswoman says pricing is based on the number of videos recorded and the logistics of getting products into the production studio. For example, a series of videos featuring big refrigerators would be more costly than a series on small kids’ toys.

Leakey declined to reveal the conversion rate for the video-enhanced pages, but says sales are up for the products that use video compared with the pre-video rates. Consumers also spend 9% more time on a page when video is present. He also says that consumers convert at a higher rate when they watch a demo than when they do not. Leakey says Living Direct is preparing to film another round of videos soon, with the ultimate goal of having video for each of the site’s more than 5,000 products.


Drew Leakey, Invodo, Living Direct, LivingDirect.com, online video