The pandemic has been a catalyst for different forms of technological acceleration as industries scrambled to ensure business continuity during an uncertain time. Across retail, this was even more apparent as every aspect of the supply chain was digitised in some way as a method of addressing shuttered stores, border lockdowns, social distancing and the need for contactless ‘everything.’

Retailers had to lean-in to this new online world, and for those looking to capitalise on new revenue streams, increase reach and engage new audiences, many did so with video. In an increasingly digitised world, video quickly became a way for retailers and brands to maintain a personal connection with their customers and audiences.

In fact, 2020 was an evolutionary year for video. Digital advertising expenditure in Australia reached $9.5 billion in 2020, with digital video investment increasing 17.2 per cent year on year.¹

But it wasn’t just in digital advertising where video made its mark for the retail industry. Irrespective of an ecommerce function, many retailers and brands experimented with live and on demand video across the entire retail ecosystem. From live-streamed events, product tutorials, to unboxing videos and post-sales service instructionals, video was how retailers reached and engaged their audiences in the past year.

So, what’s next for retail and brands in the coming year?

While in store shopping will return, the ease and convenience of ecommerce has ultimately changed the Australian shopper experience. In the coming year, retailers and brands will need to focus on creating a hybrid and seamless shopper experience, and one in which video is used seamlessly across both digital and in store footprints.

Many video-first approaches that emerged from the pandemic will continue, as retailers have recognised significant value in the form of increased basket size, improved conversions, and a reduction in returns. Australian retailers will also continue to innovate with new video  approaches, as the lines between digital and physical continue to blur. Some of these include:

  1. Livestream e-commerce – merging entertainment and ecommerce, live streaming is estimated to be worth around $125 billion in sales in China alone. One brand that successfully went ‘live’ was cosmetics brand MECCA, who launched their own live stream channel offering expert interviews, video tutorials and personal online consultations, as well as in-stream shopping to enable audiences to shop as they watch.
  2. Shoppable video – creating a seamless purchase funnel, shoppable video is increasingly becoming a way for retailers to create branded experiences for consumers, as well drive conversion. Sheridan used shoppable video to create a series of interactive videos designed to inspire and convert their audience.
  3. ‘Experiential’ retail – creating a learning and experiencing environment, both instore and online with video will continue to gain popularity. Consumers will seek to interact visually across the entire shopping experience, from product discovery through to interactive hubs on the shop floor and beyond. Retailers will look to capitalise on video to deliver engaging, immersive, tactile shopping experiences.

Driving brand connection and conversion with video

Today’s shoppers not only want a seamless and interactive shopping experience, but they increasingly expect brands to deliver a level of personalisation to give them what they want, when they want it, and through the channel of their choosing.

Video incorporated into the customer journey delivers a unique type of analytics, giving retailers greater insight into what content the audience is watching, time watched and what content they are interacting with. This helps retailers better understand individual shopper behaviours and define more personalised offers to drive increased revenue and retain customers.

Video also helps to deliver better conversion., a leading European online retailer for electrical products, uses the Brightcove online video platform to bring their products to life at every stage of their customer journey. By tracking the purchase path of their customers, they see a higher conversion rate when people engage with video.

Integrating video with your ecommerce platform, and your marketing technology stack will also help to deliver more personalised experiences across all your channels.

With digital here to stay, video is now a key driver for creating a personalised connection with customers. For retailers focussed on winning and retaining customers in 2021, they must adopt a video-first strategy both on and offline to meet customers where they are.

Greg Armshaw is senior solutions director at Brightcove.