For the past year or so, the term “shoppable video” has been making its rounds in the marketing and media industry and has become something of a buzzword. But what exactly is shoppable video and why is it coming up now? And more importantly, is it something worth considering for your business? Let’s find out.

How Shoppable Video Works

What shoppable videos provide is a way for viewers to engage directly with the video (i.e. within the video player) to be directed straight to the store page of the product they’re viewing. Before, converting views to sales involved some middle step with the platform. “Check the link in the description,” “Type in this URL,” “Scan this QR code” – sellers were coming up with increasingly elaborate means to shorten the journey from the first encounter to store checkout even if by mere milliseconds.

Today Show hosts show off NBCUniversal’s ShoppableTV solution. Credit: NBCUniversal

Instagram was notorious for this, as there were little means to get users on what would feel like a smooth transition from ad to the product URL page. Imagine the response when Instagram began incorporating shoppable images. You’re scrolling through and see a nice photo of a woman out in a sunflower field, enjoying the warm weather. Wait, it’s an ad for the sunglasses she’s wearing. There’s a small icon that reads “See details,” and with a tap you’re brought to the store page.

The success of shoppable images naturally heralded the arrival of shoppable videos. Now you can see an ad, and if it’s what you’ve been looking for, you’re one click away to getting it.

What’s so Different about Shoppable Videos?

The fact is, the idea and methodology behind shoppable videos are actually not new at all. At its core, these are interactive elements laid onto the video, which has been an existing feature for years now. In fact, one of our earliest blogs (and our first newsletter) was about interactive video and how important it was going to be in the future. So what’s the difference between interactive video and shoppable video where one has become a buzzword and the other not so much?

To clarify one aspect of it first: shoppable videos are a form of interactive video content. However, the reason it has become so popular is that it’s probably the simplest form of “interactive” content you can get. There is one singular purpose of the shoppable video – go from seeing the video to being linked to the sale. When we talked about interactive video in the past, we explored a myriad of unique ways to take advantage of its interactive features. Creating a “choose your own adventure” style of storytelling, forging “customized” outcomes and messaging based on viewer choices, providing multiple outlets and paths for the viewer to end up on, the list goes on.

What we’ve observed is that these more elaborate forms of interactive media are fantastic for transforming a lot of content into an engaging platform where the viewer can access only what they need to know. For eLearning, recruitment, even employee profiles, this is beneficial. There has been a lot of merits being able to click on the specific section you want to learn about, or specific job position or a specific individual that you want to tune in to.

However, for a pure marketing piece, it’s about making that connection quick and with as few distractions as possible to transition the user to checkout. For that, shoppable videos are quick and seamless and offer the experience customers want – reduced travel time from “I want it” to “I got it.”

Should I be Considering Shoppable Video for my Business?

You can expect shoppable video to become more prevalent as large medium platforms begin adopting it. Albaba and Ted Baker are certainly making use of it to great sucess. While still somewhat in its early stages (you may be constrained by video platform at the moment if you wish to employ shoppable videos), we can only expect this trend to be put to more use moving forward, and in increasingly new and clever ways. Almost every video has a Call to Action, to statement to provoke the viewer to take the next step after watching the video. Shoppable videos make that Call to Action a real action that can be taken immediately and with a single click at the moment when the message is strongest. This is yet another great way video can be leveraged to market your product or service.

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