Shoppable, intelligent video is a future inevitable says Wirewax – here’s what Ted Baker launched

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Shoppable video is an area retailers ranging from Asos to Kate Spade have played with for some time. Issues remain however around nailing exactly what resonates with consumers – should it be entertainment backed by shopping, or shopping backed by entertainment, and accordingly a lean-back or lean-in experience?

The biggest barrier initially was the technology; finding a solution that easily offered viewers the ability to click and view an item without it ruining the narrative of what they were otherwise watching.

Many failed, but slowly that hurdle is being overcome. One of the companies doing it nicely is Wirewax, which offers clickable hotspots embedded into video content. Speaking at Wired Retail this week, co-founder and CEO, Steve Callanan, said the aim is to connect online video to the real world of people, information and products. He imagines a future where all video is connected, shoppable and intelligent, with built-in facial and product recognition to follow.

“An entire generation is coming up that has only known video on a very interactive device,” Callanan said. “These are the consumers of the future.” The idea is for video to become a transparent portal to all forms of commerce, in a way that is welcomed rather than invasive, he added. As it stands, audiences reportedly already respond well to such shoppable experiences, he said, outlining that 67% of people will interact with a rich video, with a click-through rate of 16 to 48%.

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One of the important aspects of Wirewax is that it works across mobile, tablet and desktop. Something that Ted Baker, which launched a shoppable campaign with the company this week as part of its Christmas push, has particularly embraced.

Craig Smith, brand communication director at Ted Baker, says: “It was important for us to create a shoppable video solution that works across all devices… Using interactive digital features in this exciting and engaging way allows us to interact with both our existing customers and target new audiences in a fun and innovative manner.”

The film documents both men’s and womenswear. While storytelling isn’t as embraced as it could be for such an experience – making the piece feel very much like an ad – it does a nice job of highlighting shoppable pieces with the hovering, clickable hotspots.

As the demo video below shows, once you do click, a pop-up opens on top allowing you to see more information about the item in question. Hitting the “shop now” button underneath then takes you to another window that opens the product page specifically, making it still somewhat of a clunky experience, particularly on mobile, but closing the box instead at least enables the video to instantly keep on playing.

Unlike other campaign launches, which might be primarily focused on generating brand awareness, share of voice and consumer engagement, the aim with this for Ted Baker is to directly drive revenue. “We hope by incorporating shopability as a key function to the video it will convert viewers into shoppers over the Christmas period and put the fun back into Christmas shopping,” adds Smith. There is also a “shop the film” button underneath the content that leads directly to a curated e-commerce page featuring all of the products.

Callahan, who has also worked with brands like Farfetch and Dulux through Wirewax, says: “It’s not just about creating interactive experiences […] if the messaging around the video isn’t quite there it isn’t going to work.” Similarly not everyone wants to be bombarded by cues to purchase, he added. “But if you know you can if you want to […] the power of that is enormous.”

It still feels early days in terms of this being done right, with real opportunities around simple ideas including narrative and the ability to save items into a basket for later (as Temperley London’s project with Cinematique enabled) likely to help experiences feel more fluid.

All of that makes this piece I wrote in 2012 about the issues with shoppable film still seem incredibly relevant. But credit to the experimentation being done – if organisations allow it, there’s no better time to do so than around peak trading seasons.