Optimizing User Experience with eCommerce Product Videos – Part 2

Previously, I talked with user experience web expert Paul Bryan on the importance for retail and eCommerce professionals on implementing user experience, aka “UX” best practices in their online video program. This time I showcase with Paul what is perhaps the very first Product Video Usability checklist that all businesses can and should learn from, including the UX industry itself.

I do recommend reading “Optimizing User Experience with e-Commerce Product Videos (Part 1)” first if you think you could use a basic education on what we mean by “user experience” and it’s relationship to online video for retail and e-commerce enterprises, especially for product videos.

More on why usability best practices with product videos are crucial for e-commerce sites

“e-commerce sites are competing for customer attention and loyalty. The user experience features included in a site are the focal points for engaging customers, and can make or break the purchase process.” says Paul in his article on his UX Booth blog, “10 Absentee UX Features on Top e-Commerce Sites.”

In Paul’s follow-up article, “Top Approaches for e-Commerce Product Videos,” he explained the growing importance of usability best practices with product videos for retail and e-commerce sites, which he says are related to higher engagement and conversion rates. He mentioned recently released research reports indicating that videos increase conversion over the same product pages that have only static images.

“Because of their potential for increasing sales as well as improving search engine placement, product videos are likely to become a standard feature on e-commerce product pages in the near future,” said Paul.

The big challenge with implementing UX features with product videos today is BUDGET.

Not only is there the additional budget challenge for e-commerce businesses with having to develop and market product videos, but there is also an equally big challenge with implementing UX features around the product videos themselves. A lot of UX features aren’t free. As the retail UX audit report mentions, in some cases, they are very, very expensive. To quote from the report: “Selecting the right feature set is an exercise that should be as well-informed as possible, and should take into account available resources, industry best practices, and the competitive landscape.”

The first public Retail UX audit for web video commerce

Paul’s company, Usography, recently published their own “Retailer UX Audit “– a review of the 100 top retail web sites completed in Summer 2011. “We rated the sites according to a list of 30 user experience feature criteria,” says Paul.

Here are some key takeaways of that report regarding product videos:

  • Top retail sites have still been slow to include product videos to date. Only 17 of the 100 top retail sites are doing product videos, and only 9 them scored well with their product videos. Those 9 included Amazon, Zappos, Patagonia, QVC, and Burberry.
  • Zappos best video experience. The report gives high praise for Zappos and their video experience, which he describes as “hitting a UX home run.”
  • Amazon #1 overall. Of the 100 top retail sites, Amazon.com had the top score for overall UX e-commerce experience. (You can check out Amazon product page video screenshot.)

Recommended UX Criteria for e-commerce Video

I’ve selected from the Retailer Audit’s entire UX features list all of the video-related criteria, which they said was gathered during their initial site reviews. These all came from 4 feature categories: Social Commerce, Purchase Support, Catalog Navigation, and Multichannel Shopping. From each of these features, I also added my own descriptions that would properly relate to better usability with product video on a retail/e-commerce website. (So in other words, a lot of these come from Paul’s Retailer UX Audit, with some additions and modifications of my own for the video commerce crowd.)

Social video commerce features:

  • Email (video) to a friend
  • Video product reviews
  • Share video via social media
  • Facebook “Like” (video)

Purchase support features

  • Alternate videos visible
  • Live video chat with a customer specialist/expert advice (chat, callback)
  • Video of product or subcategory
  • Related product videos
  • Interactive product demo (video potential)

Catalog navigation features

  • Next product video, previous product video in list.
  • Category-specific filters for product videos
  • Related videos/product videos (more like this)
  • Closed captioning
  • Spanish language version

Multichannel shopping features

  • Save video to list/favorites/bookmark

My own video UX checklist for retail and e-commerce websites:

Considering that the UX industry is still incredibly sparse with any published research on usability best practices with online video (especially around actual user testing, which I have been told by several highly regarded UX professionals can be extremely difficult to manage), I have whipped out my own makeshift, starter checklist of UX features.  This checklist should lead to better customer convenience of online shopping, and more conversions for retailers and e-commerce businesses. (Note: I am not advocating all of these features be available for every retailer. A lot of them are just food for thought, based on the businesses’ resources and priorities, and customer needs.) I admittedly have borrowed liberally from Paul’s own articles on his UX Booth blog website and re-organized them into my own self-styled categories, so do be sure to check those out for more of his own research and recommendations.

Technical

  • Video starts very quickly (like within a second when you press the play button)
  • Video codec for both HTML5 and Flash (for common devices and platforms)

Player

  • “Buy” button in the video player
  • Related product videos in the video player
  • Shop within the video while staying on the site/page.

Accessibility

  • Audio/closed captioning of product details in Spanish. This would be for choosing between English and Spanish versions. “Given the census data regarding the growth of the Hispanic population in the USA, it is astonishing that only 4 out of the 100 top retailers reviewed in the UX Audit include the option on product detail pages to view the page in Spanish.” Said Paul.
  • Automated/interactive transcripts of each video (in place of no solid description being present).

Peer Participation

  • Customer reviews on the product video page.
  • Co-shopping /shared shopping: “This is a UX feature that lets people in different locations view the same product page, and chat in a sidebar about the product,” to cite the Retailer UX Report. This could work similarly on a page where two people are watching the same product video. As for my own thoughts: This could work also with live video chat with a customer specialist, where more than one individual is reviewing the same product (like parents with their kid, or husband-wife).
  • Videos of what other customers are viewing now.

Context

  • Related product videos or other videos
  • Related general content
  • Related promotions and advertising

Customer Service

  • Live video chat with customer specialist.
  • Create videos responding to common customer Q&As about their products

Mobility

  • QR code in the video page for mobile shopping.
  • Text video to smartphone

Sharing

  • Embed ability (button and/or coded)
  • Social sharing and tagging features. This is especially the case with the Facebook ‘Like button, which Paul says “is a simple addition that every retailer should add to their product pages. It simply lets customers tell their Facebook friends that they like a particular product, and links back to the product page. It also establishes a link between the person who likes the product, and the retailer.”

Virtual Reality

  • Virtual Try-On. Augmented reality apps that show someone using the product in multiple ways. (Go beyond the static version like at H&M’s Dressing Room.)
  • User submitted videos – reviews, comments, try-ons, them at a store, etc.

Price Specials

  • Price drop announcement in overlay text
  • Overlay ads of promotions going on with the featured product, product line, product category, or for all products by the retailer/eCommerce business.

Time to consider your own UX strategy with online video

So there you have it – a first-of-it’s kind published report on user experience best practices with product videos, and my own amalgamation for the retail and e-commerce crowd. Granted, we have yet to reach the level of actual user testing, but I think what Paul has done is give us a great starting point at least for what we can all add to and refine for our own business and client needs. Hopefully it will allow many more UX professionals to be less intimidated by incorporating online video into a complete UX service package, as well as have many more retail and e-commerce enterprises consider actual UX best practices and user testing with their own product videos before pushing them out on the public.

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