Shoppable Video Comes of Age

John Suder
Sep 3, 2020

Futurists have long dreamed of consoles in every home where you could ‘browse catalogs’ via a screen and order merchandise with the touch of a button. But imagination was no match for the limitations in technology and cost. Remember the Picturephone? Bell Labs predicted video calling to be a billion-dollar business by 1980. We all know how that turned out. 

In the 80’s we had TV networks like QVC, and later HSN devoted to nothing but shopping. These networks had devoted followings and made massive profits. The owners of these networks sought out novel products and inventions and launched them to a nationwide audience. QVC and the like can be considered the grandfather of DTC brands. While not exactly ‘shoppable video,’ it was a precursor to interactive eCommerce. 

We’re All Broadband and Mobile Now

Fast forward to the present day. The barriers and limitations to interactive video have been broken. Video is quick, persuasive, and easy to consume. We now consume more video than any other type of medium. 

The rapid pace of mobile technology has put the world’s information at our fingertips and the opportunity to buy anything from anywhere in the world. A mobile consumer base exponentially increases the potential market share for any eCommerce brand that can leverage video content.


The current COVID-19 world has put eCommerce front and center in retail. Businesses have experienced massive growth – and according to Adobe Insights have ‘accelerated growth by 4-6 years’ in just a matter of months. 

The use of video in eCommerce is increasing exponentially. Consumers now rely on product demos, reviews, and unboxing videos for their product recommendations. Influencers increasingly use video for their product endorsements. And brands, who know that video is easily consumable, create, deploy, and remix shareable video segments to increase engagement.

A recent survey by the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB US) of Direct to Consumer brands found the number of brands that planned to integrate shoppable video into their ad strategies grew by 10% from 2018 to 2019. 

This number is expected to rise as brands seek to capitalize on more screen-focused consumers during COVID-19 restrictions.

This phenomenon only presents more opportunities for savvy eCommerce brands and merchants to leverage more creative selling channels like shoppable video. 

Good User Experience is Key for Adoption

A prime example of shoppable video is when the shopping experience meshes with other types of content. Imagine watching a show or a video and seeing a product within the shot that catches your eye. Instead of heading to Google in hopes of finding that same object, you could instead click on the object in the video and be taken to a purchase page. These experiences require visual cues to let the viewer know there’s a purchasing opportunity. The downside is that many of these experiences can be offputting to viewers.

Brands themselves produce other types of shoppable videos. This is different from overlaid shopping experiences on Over the Top (OTT) streaming video services. The consumer has arrived at the brand via search or intention, but using video can seal the deal to persuade potential consumers to buy. 

Research shows that mobile shoppable ads with a call to action work better than those that do not include that type of message. One of the research’s key findings is that consumers like being presented with ads that allow them to shop - but before they hit that ‘Buy Now’ button, consumers typically want access to more information. 

The Future

Video is here to stay, and the stats prove it:

  • By 2022, online videos will make up more than 82% of all consumer internet traffic — 15 times higher than in 2017. (Cisco)
  • 59% of executives say they would rather watch a video than read text. (Wordstream)
  • Viewers retain 95% of a message when they watch it in a video, compared to 10% when reading it in text. (Insivia)
  • Social media posts with video have 48% more views. (HubSpot)
  • 62% said they were more interested in a product after seeing it in a Facebook Story. (Marketing Land)
  • Social video gets shared 1200% more than text and images combined. (Crackitt)
  • Mobile video ad spend is expected to be around 72% of the total digital ad spend this year. (eMarketer)

How Can eCommerce Merchants Use Shoppable Video?

You don’t have to be a top tier brand to offer shoppable video to your customers. There are now many platforms and tools available that can help you create awareness and upsell your products with shoppable video and social media tools.

  • Amazon Live
amazon live creator app

  • Using the Amazon Live Creator app, you can create and upload livestreams and reach customers on Amazon offers robust analytics and gamifies the process by awarding points to prolific livestreamers. As you level up, you ‘unlock’ benefits - including additional placements for your livestreams on Amazon like the home page.
  • Facebook and Instagram
Instagram Shopping

  • Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Facebook has accelerated its moves into social commerce and video shopping. Following several pilots, the company announced brands’ ability on the platforms to let merchants livestream shopping sessions to customers. Instagram Live Shopping is available to all businesses and creators that use Instagram checkout in the U.S.
  • YouTube
Google Video Action Campaigns

  • People watch a billion hours of YouTube each day. They’re also on the platform using video to make purchasing decisions. YouTube now gives merchants the tools it needs to upsell with video. YouTube has recently rolled out Video Action Campaigns. The direct response format has a "shop now" button and can show products from a catalog to buy instantly from a retailer's website, helping to turn intent into purchases. 
  • Shoploop
Google Shoploop

  • Google’s in-house incubator Area 120 has released a new app called Shoploop. Shoploop is a social media app, but its core purpose is product discovery and shopping 90-second or under videos. Viewers can either save a product to buy later or click straight to the merchant’s website to complete the purchase. Viewers can follow Shoploop creators and share videos with friends and family. Currently, the app is focused on content creators, publishers, and online store owners in the beauty industry in categories such as makeup, skincare, hair, and nails. Still, it will be interesting to see how the app opens up to the broader market. 
  • Spin
Spin Live Shoppable Video App

  • Spin Live has created a new shoppable video platform that can be accessed in Shopify's app store. Spin Live allows merchants to sell products directly via live shoppable videos produced by leading influencers. The simple two-click setup process grants influencers access to a merchant's products that can then be sold via livestreams on Spin Live's shoppable video platform. The integration seamlessly syncs a merchant's product information, inventory, and fulfillment to instantly open a new emerging sales channel.

We’re still in the early days of shoppable video. But as technology evolves and brands and agencies create new and immersive content and experiences, you can be confident that consumer adoption will only grow. 

Photo by Kon Karampelas on Unsplash

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