Online retailer Zappos will be making a big push into original online video next year. The company, which was acquired by Amazon (s AMZN) earlier this year, will be upping the number of product videos it makes to 50,000 next year, from the still-impressive 8,500 it made this year.
“Online video is another way for the customers to see the product and the company culture,” said Rico Nasol, Zappos content team senior manager.
Zappos currently uses online video three different ways on its site: for product demos, to open a window into the corporate culture, and as instructional guides for those who want to learn from Zappos.
Product videos are exactly what you’d expect, a brief clip showing off a particular product. “It’s easy to see the way a product bends, hangs and fits,” Nasol said of video, “You can see someone moving in it.” Zappos has also started creating boutique sites with videos for customers like Nike, and has even recently dabbled in making videos clickable through a partnership with Overlay.TV.
Aside from the UGC product reviews Zappos has started experimenting with, the company creates all of its own product videos and doesn’t accept ones from vendors. “It’s our take on it,” said Nasol, “Our customers want to see more Zappos people.”
Seeing more of the Zappos people is another aspect of the company’s video plans. It regularly posts an assortment of clips on its corporate blog featuring anything from employees singing, to a Pet Supply donation drive, or two women “Talk’n Trends” for the holiday season. It’s all about finding new ways for Zappos to connect with its customers, according to Nasol.
Zappos also tries to connect with other businesses that want to learn from the company. ZapposInsights.com provides videos and other materials that show how Zappos built its business and culture.
With all that video going on, it’s hard to imagine the company has any time to sell stuff. According to Nasol, the videos are pretty stripped down and only cost the company anywhere from $17 to $50 per video to create. To help reach its goal of 50,000 videos next year, Zappos is building out ten studios in both its Kentucky and Las Vegas offices, and will have three or four full-time staffers at each studio.
Zappos isn’t the first online retailer to try leveraging video to boost sales. Shopflick (which was acquired by Sugar, Inc. this year) is video marketplace for independent boutiques, and the much-maligned Honeyshed tried to use the QVC approach to hawking products (before it closed down).
The company wouldn’t comment on how many people are watching its videos, but did say that conversion is “up” on products that have accompanying clips. The company says it’s in the process of building analytical tools to mine that data.
Given how cheap its videos are to produce, the total play counts seem secondary to Zappos’ overarching use of video as a customer connection tool. But it’s becoming more important for the company, and as Nasol said, “Video is going to be huge for us in 2010.”