Take a moment to think back to 2012. “Gangnam Style” and “Call Me Maybe” topped the music charts, the last Twilight movie was released, and the “Fierce Five” dominated the London Olympic Games. At the same time, luxury brand SSENSE.com launched a music video that started a “shoppable video” revolution.
Shoppable video may be commonplace today, but in 2012, it was unheard of. The music video featured Iggy Azalea, Diplo, and FKi wearing SSENSE.com clothing and accessories. While viewers enjoyed the music performance, they could also click on anything the artists were wearing to buy it right from the video.
We’ve come a long way since 2012, so let’s take a look at how shoppable video has changed and how brands can master the intersection of entertainment and e-commerce.
The Shoppable Video Landscape in 2023
Fast forward to 2023, and the shoppable video landscape has taken off. Instagram, YouTube (in partnership with Shopify), and TikTok all offer the ability to buy products directly from video content.
Making an impulse purchase is easier than ever. Consumers can see a product on TikTok for the first time, complete checkout within seconds (without ever leaving the app!), and return to their scrolling without batting an eye. As a result, we’re seeing shorter sales cycles and an influx of social media video content from brands.
Benefits of Shoppable Videos for Brands
The perks for e-commerce brands are compelling. Abandoned carts are a major headache, and shoppable video eliminates many of the pain points.
According to Baymard Institute, the average reported abandoned cart rate is a whopping 70%. While not all abandoned carts represent frustration in the checkout process, many do stem from unnecessary payment steps, slow page load times, and other tiny hiccups during checkout.
Embedding the checkout process into a video makes the process easier. By default, there tends to be fewer steps in a shoppable video checkout versus a regular checkout. And because you never leave the app where you’re consuming content, it’s much easier to shop without feeling interrupted.
Shoppable videos are also interactive, helping engage viewers even if they don’t complete a purchase. Interactive videos have 3x longer viewing times, 2x more conversions, and 14x more click-throughs than non-interactive videos. In the best-case scenarios, this means brands will see a boost in completed purchases and revenue. In the worst-case scenarios, they still make a more meaningful connection with viewers who may still purchase down the line.
The last benefit for brands? A clearer understanding of the consumer shopping experience. By tracking conversion data alongside video benefits, brands can understand which products are resonating, when and where consumers are purchasing from, and what type of creative messaging drives sales.
Shoppable Video Best Practices
If you’re a brand trying to break into shoppable video, you’ll need to learn the difference between shoppable video best practices and “regular” video best practices. Shoppable video may be intended to drive sales, but it shouldn’t feel like a direct sales push. Keep in mind that viewers will come across your shoppable video while they’re scrolling through other video content, so they’re in entertainment mode. If your video feels like a disruptive sales pitch, they’re less likely to engage.
Since consumers are still getting used to shoppable video, it’s also important to make your product links clear. Depending on the platform you use, you might be able to overlay “add to cart” buttons, tag specific items, or call out the “shoppable” elements in your video’s captions or on-screen text. Viewers can’t take advantage of shoppable elements they don’t know about, so don’t make your callouts too subtle.
Finally, don’t cram too many products into one video. No one wants to watch an infomercial that features your entire product line, so keep each video focused on a few products that make sense in a group. For example, you might feature two actors and tag the items on each of their outfits, or make one recipe that links to the key ingredients. The fewer products you link to, the more meaningful they feel.
Brands Using Shoppable Video Effectively
Wondering who’s nailing the shoppable video landscape? Lots of brands have experimented with shoppable video since 2012, but there are a few whose recent campaigns stand out. Let’s take a look at some of the latest success stories.
A recent Levi’s campaign, executed by agency AKQA, featured a social video following influencers around the globe wearing their Levi’s. While the ad might have looked like a standard TV spot, the shoppable video was promoted on social to lead viewers straight to purchase.
The campaign proved successful on two levels: the click-to-buy elements drove sales, and the personal nature of the ad led viewers to share their own Levi’s stories. Win, win!
Makeup artists and beauty influencers have used video content to walk through their routines for decades. It’s common for YouTube videos to detail someone’s entire makeup routine, and at each step, they usually share the exact product they’re using for viewers to replicate.
Sephora leaned into this concept even further by partnering with YouTube and Shopify for a beauty tutorial series. Instead of having to list the details of each product, clickable tags make it possible to buy the exact item directly from the video. The campaign eliminated many friction points in “standard” beauty videos, like hunting down obscure brands, squinting at product labels, or having to guess at the exact shade or variety of the product.
Last but not least, Valentino recently proved that shoppable video isn’t just for affordable brands. As a luxury retailer, it used shoppable elements to launch its Spring/Summer 2023 collection. The campaign’s main video was an unboxing video hosted by two stylists, and as they unveiled each item and talked about its features, viewers could click to purchase.
According to Smartzer, the platform that enabled the shoppable integration, the campaign led to a 24% CTR increase and a 60% increase in Instagram engagement.
In a nutshell, shoppable videos are the future of e-commerce. They’re mixing the binge-worthiness of Netflix with the convenience of Amazon—and they’re not going anywhere anytime soon. If your e-commerce brand is late to the shoppable video trend, now is the time to catch up!