When YouTube launched their beta testing of external annotations (clicky bits that pop-up over the vid) in October, it became cool to talk about shoppable video. Early adopters, or moreover, those that YouTube gave permissions to (trials are being rolled out to domains ‘in good standing’ first) took to the format with gusto. We’ve all known for a while that there’s a future in fashion film, but no one has hit the nail on the head with how to monetize the platform. Is this the dawn of a new era for advertising? Does shoppable video shift product faster than existing fashion film? And really, are customers interested in shopping via either method? We investigated a few of the current favourites.
Target really threw some budget at their first forays into the format – casting Kristen Bell (Forgetting Sarah Marshall) in a three-part shoppable film directed by Mad Men’s Phil Abraham. The five minute instalments which launched on the retailer’s site across a week in early October, are shot as a rom-com and feature over 100 products. So, such a fancy staging, but did the stuff sell? Yes. Across the categories of women’s and menswear, stock shifted. The leading lady’s first outfit, a hot pink running top and long-sleeve track top both from C9 by Champion sold out of their featured colours faster than other colourways. The long-sleeved grape top was out of stock by the 4th November, and the pink top 30th November, though it has now come back into stock with a price reduction.
The green blazer worn in the third episode also saw a restock across three colourways, however many sizes had sold out before the video even launched, so it could be argued its extra attention wasn’t necessary. Other product sell-throughs include the blue men’s henley worn by the male lead although since the 1st Oct, its price has gone from $15 to $12 to $10 and back to $15. A poplin plaid shirt, a men’s weekender bag and ladies tweed jacket have all seen similar price changes, which is surprising given their premium coverage.
It can’t be argued that Target’s production was sleekly executed, with product scrolling alongside the video, allowing you to add to favourites baskets without pausing. However, it would be easier for Target to see their ROI if they hadn’t also run discounted promotions.
ASOS’s offering was perfectly pitched for their customer base, featuring musicians Ellie Goulding, Azealia Banks and model Charlotte Free and inspiring anecdotal social interaction with the #BestNightEver hashtag. Launching on the 29th October, each starlet’s video was accompanied with shopping edits curated to their looks. Success was fairly evenly spread out across the featured three. Ellie Golding’s £65 leather sleeved and embellished top wasn’t in stock until the 8th November, but was sold out by the 20th and since restocked. A £55 Art Nouveau blazer is out of stock of its three largest sizes, but sales on a embellished collar shirt weren’t optimised as it was out of stock of four sizes weeks before it made it into the pick.
Charlotte’s sequinned peplum bandeau remains in one size, having arrived on the 26th October and seen no discounting. Better still is the £85 premium feathered jacket she wears, which arrived on the 8th November and has sold out three times in some sizes already. Azealia has helped the £20 baroque print skirt sell out of five of its sizes in under a month, but the sheer bomber jacket she wears has seen its price drop from £35 to £26 (via £24.50).
In fact, of the items in the three celeb’s selections, 27% of Ellie’s are now on sale, 31% of Azealia’s and 37% Charlotte’s. Perhaps not surprising given the season, but also a sign that the vids weren’t a runaway success.
Juicy Couture’s video, which launched on the 9th November, featured a scantily clad Candice Swanepoel shot by Terry Richardson, having a jolly time in the Chateau Marmont. It’s attracted a fair amount of online attention, but not nearly as much as their London flagship opening in July. The yellow bikini Swanepoel puts to good use in the first scene has sold out, but of the 14 clickable products, eight have already been reduced by between 28-34%. This could perhaps highlight the current problem with YouTube’s beta annotations; once you click on a product (say the first thing you see, the yellow bikini) you are led to a new page, the vid pauses and consumers become disengaged. Target and ASOS handled this by enabling favourites, or guiding viewers to full selections.
It’s early days for shoppable video and although the three featured here have all had initial hiccups with discounted product, their brave leaps into the unknown mean they will have benefitted from social hype the campaigns created. Whilst strategists struggle to merge the blend between entertainment and purchase mindsets, metrics such as sell-through rates and discounting are crucial for retailers wondering whether to take the leap.
And just in case you’re wondering… the polka dot scarf gifted to the snow-woman in John Lewis’s seasonal tear-jerker? Well, that’s sold out. Go for the heartstrings folks.