Online shopping has become a significant piece of the retail experience. Shifting customers preferences and behaviours show an online-first and mobile-first mindset. Preliminary data from the Brightcove Q2 2020 Global Video Index: Marketing and Retail Edition showed the demand for video has never been higher as consumers increasingly expect engaging, authentic and consumable content on their preferred channel.

Retailers who have spent millions delivering an in-store experience, are shifting their attention online, and recognising that video is a powerful form of communication to enhance the customer experience, increase engagement, build trust and ultimately increase market and wallet share.

For retailers, the pressure is on to maintain profitability as well as deliver business continuity, as they bounce between reopening and reverting back to lockdown. That calls for a robust online strategy to interact and transact with customers anytime, anywhere. In-store traffic is dwindling, and there has been a seismic shift online. For retailers without an online strategy it’s becoming a too little, too late predicament. The time is now to pivot online, and deliver a personalised and engaging experience through video.

Australian ecommerce spiked to 80% growth year on year, with predictions that online spend will hold 15% market share by the end of the year. But this trend is not new. Consumer expectations and behaviours have evolved to a point where they are looking to do more than transact – retail sites are visited for product information, troubleshooting tips, how-to tips and even how to return or exchange items. Where there was a time and place for printed copy, now more than ever there is a need for short and highly engaging video content.

Retailers who include video into their online digital experiences are a step ahead, because nothing brings online shoppers closer to that in-person shopping experience than video.  And that is why ecommerce retailers are embracing video at record speed. In fact, online retailers featuring video on their sites boost customer browsing time by 340%. Even better: ecommerce video increases add-to-cart-conversion by 37% and 76 per cent of consumers reported that they’ve purchased a product or service after viewing a video.

Preliminary data from the Brightcove Q2 2020 Global Video Index: Marketing and Retail Edition shows video views for retail and marketing increased 90 per cent year-on-year in Australia and New Zealand. Over the same period, time watched more than doubled, up by 108% over Q2 2019, suggesting that viewers are engaging more and more with video content. May saw the highest increase in both views and time watched. But in June as restrictions eased, views were still up by 48 per cent, and time watched also rose 56 per cent compared to the previous year.

So, what does this tell us about retail marketing going forward?

The explosion of video views is evident that the communications landscape between retailers and consumers has evolved, and consumers have rapidly become more digital-savvy. According to the NAB Online Retail Sales Index for June 2020, online sales were up 49.6% year on year, and this trend is predicted to grow.

With consumers shifting their shopping behaviour online, so have their expectations – they are seeking out more efficient experiences, shorter customer journeys, faster shopping cart checkouts and fewer staff interactions. Moving forward, consumers are likely to be more digital than ever as both comfort level and the online experience increase.

From a retailer perspective, online KPIs such as improving conversion rates, increasing time and engagement on site and enhancing customer loyalty are now more prevalent than ever. And cost efficiencies are also top of mind, so marketers and brand managers are looking to deploy video across every stage of the customer journey.

With retailers looking to maximise the opportunity that online affords, video is playing a significant role in attracting and retaining customers. It’s evident consumer behaviours are in flux and ready to change for the long term. Retailers need to maximize the effect of video, and now is the time to act in order to have the most tactical impact on holiday sales, and to gain a firm foothold in the video economy.

Jim O’Neill is principal analyst at Brightcove