What does it mean to be an online retailer in an era of video commerce?

I used to think of an online retailer as a company that sold products and services on its web site.

Now, I’m not so sure.  I started thinking about this after I saw Karmaloop’s online video effort and then blogged about it. Now, I’m diving into things like Borders’ Books & Music’s efforts at bordersmedia.com or Amazon.com’s new shopping experience at windowshop.com. If you haven’t seen Amazon’s effort yet – do.  It’s super innovative.  Start consuming some of the media and you begin to wonder… is this a retailer or an entertainment company?

It’s likely that many retailers will never cross the boundary between entertainment and commerce.  But, seeing efforts like these, I have no doubt many will.  We’re already seeing signs of the convergence between the entertainment industry and the e-commerce industry.  Look carefully, and you can see it happening with the retailers that sell media (e.g. books, music, videos) and retailers who cater to the MTV generation.  If you’re able to stretch your thinking a bit, it becomes easier to see how even “mainstream” retailers will begin to blur the lines.  I’m not talking about QVC or HSN-style video production, infomercials or even short-form online video ads.  I’m talking about retailers seeking to more deeply integrate themselves into the daily lives of their customers by delivering lifestyle content that features products or services sold by the retailer either via product placement, blending of commercial content and entertainment content, or through mid-roll advertising.  That’s just a starting point.  Retailers actually want to begin selling ad inventory within lifestyle content to complementary businesses and turn video into a new source of revenue – essentially becoming their own media companies and furthering the fragmentation of media in our society.

What do you think about this vision for the future of video commerce?

Happy Selling!  And, Happy Thanksgiving!