Short-form videos provide retailers a way to differentiate themselves during the holiday season and all year-round. Retailers should align their video strategy to existing corporate priorities—like customer experience or digital initiatives around responsive web design, website redesign, or mobile-first—to gain immediate buy-in.

Charles Choe, senior product marketing manager, Akamai Technologies

In this digital era, customers are smarter, increasingly impatient, and dictate how and when they interact with brands. The always-connected customer is at the heart of digital transformation strategies. To capture and retain their interest, meet rising expectations, and offer value beyond price or product, retailers must deliver highly engaging digital experiences. One way to offer experiences that differentiate from others vying for attention this holiday season is with short-form videos.

In fact, the average customer expects to see at least six images and three videos per product while shopping on Amazon.com or other online retailers, not to mention we see upwards of an 80% boost in conversions when video is incorporated into a landing page. Some brands that integrate images and videos well delight customers with products that unexpectedly come to life. Beyond just products, retailers can boost digital engagement with homepage hero videos, short lifestyle clips, user- generated videos, or instructional tutorials that showcase products in action.

Using the same pristine video for all devices is simply not an option.

While videos may be considered a differentiator today, they will likely become the norm tomorrow. Cisco predicts that by 2022, nearly four-fifths (79%) of all global mobile traffic will be video.

Common video challenges

Videos, however, can pose both strategic and tactical problems. First, retailers must consider the role that videos will play in their digital customer experience strategy. How will your customers best consume and engage with video content? How will you differentiate from competitors? Will you supplement or replace YouTube? What is the opportunity cost of waiting?

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Then, layer in a real sense of urgency as 55% of businesses feel they will suffer financially and lose market share if they don’t digitally transform within one year. Some of the following strategic considerations can pose as challenges to getting started.

From a tactical point of view, the sheer size of videos makes them inherently difficult to implement while balancing visual quality with performance. Using the same pristine video for all devices is simply not an option; it can result in over-downloading, increased page weight, extended buffering, and pixelated playback that will reduce user satisfaction and negatively impact conversions.

Retailers must apply complex optimization techniques to ensure all derivative renditions are lightweight and best suited for every combination of end-user connectivity, device, and browser; all while considering encoding, transcoding, codecs, video containers, file formats, and more. Additional challenges related to scale, reliability, and speed may also surface as retailers prepare for peak traffic.

Highly engaging video content this holiday may seem out of reach for some, but several automated optimizations can help significantly lighten the load. Let’s explore some key strategies for upgrading your video content this holiday season and beyond.

Putting your video strategy in action

Executing video is clearly an important factor; but how can retailers get started right away? The key is speed. Retailers should align their video strategy to existing corporate priorities—like customer experience or digital initiatives around responsive web design (RWD), website redesign, or mobile-first—to gain immediate buy-in.

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Then, start with one primary hero video or product explainer video. Since it takes just 50 milliseconds to make a positive first impression, an aesthetically beautiful homepage hero video can make an immediate and powerful statement about your brand.

Retailers should then consider a tactical strategy for successful execution. There are two possible approaches: an in-house DIY solution or third party.

For many retailers, digital asset management is not a core competency, so the effort to create a solution or manage complicated workflows can be a large-scale effort that may ultimately lack the agility to keep pace with evolving digital demands. Retailers can consider cloud-based video management, which can provide advantages with time-to-market by reducing activation from months to weeks. The simplicity of automatically creating derivative renditions, caching them, and delivering the best version based on connectivity (e.g., high-latency cellular networks), device, and browser/operating system is something to consider.

Keeping a “peak readiness” mindset beyond holiday 2019

The use of short-form videos this holiday season can have a profound effect on end-user experiences by creating an immersive visual environment, but there is little room for error. Brands must scale for peak to enable consistent and fast digital experiences that impact the bottom line—namely increased page views, pages viewed per visit, decreased bounce, and longer sessions that lead to higher online conversions.

Videos may contribute to increased holiday sales, but the benefits will last well beyond this holiday season. A successful video strategy can also improve SEO rankings from RWD and video optimization best practices. Positive digital experiences have been shown to result in high quality brand recognition, product stickiness, increased usage, and customer satisfaction – which ultimately lead to retention.

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Alignment with RWD and mobile-first strategies will also enable consistent and fast user experiences across all digital touchpoints. Having videos that are proven to scale will also prepare retailers for unexpected surges triggered by market trends that may occur throughout the year.

Akamai Technologies provides content delivery network services to 345 of the 1,000 leading online retailers in North America as ranked In the Internet Retailer 2019 Top 1000.

 

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