Online video a must-have for these four businesses

Adding video to the mix has helped drive sales, among other things.

The falling price of bandwidth and rising consumer demand has motivated a variety of organizations -- from retailers to music publishers and credit unions -- to add video to their websites.

In fact, eMarketer, a market research company, forecasts a 5.6% increase in the number of people who will view online videos in 2013 compared to last year.

"We're seeing videos show up in a much broader range of verticals and a much broader range of enterprises," even in mid-sized companies, for uses including training apps, videoconferencing and CEO broadcasts, according to Robert Mason, a Gartner analyst.

Mason says he's seen an upsurge in using video as part of unified communications. "Video is becoming much more a part of the mainstream experience," Mason says.

Some companies are using video in an attempt to set themselves apart from the competition.

Showcasing both shoes and corporate culture

Zappos.com, an online shoe and apparel store known for its friendly and unscripted customer service, added videos to its website in 2009. Visitors to the site have the option to view a video with a live person describing a product and, in some cases, demonstrating it.

"The videos did several things for us," says Austin Blair, photo/video manager for Zappos, based in Henderson, Nev. "Since we don't have a brick-and-mortar store, the videos allow us to show the quirkiness in the Zappos culture. Otherwise there's no customer service interaction unless a person calls us."

The 30- to 45-second videos "provide certain things you can't get from the written description or a still image," says Blair. "For example, you can see the flexibility of a shoe, which may help the customer make a buying decision."

One of Zappos' product videos, available on its own site and on YouTube.

Getting the videos up and running was not difficult. Some front-end development work went into getting a player live and some other tasks, says Blair. "We were able to use a customizable player that we integrated into the site. In-house developers had the back-end process up and running within a month," he explains.

Once the coding was done it was just a matter of putting the products Zappos wanted to showcase on video and uploading the videos to the site. The company started with only a Flash player and has since moved to HTML5, which supports mobile devices also.

Currently the video department consists of 14 people. An internal IT team handles testing and pushing changes to the video player, and two editors handle everything else involving the videos.

Filming, editing and pushing videos to the FTP server requires a 24-hour turnaround, says Blair. "The actual process of recording and producing the videos has become very streamlined." The company creates several different file types including Flash and MP4 files for mobile devices, and archives the videos on a six-month rolling rotation.

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