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Case Study: How Zappos is Using Online Video to Increase Sales & Build Their Brand

Jul 23, 2018

+3 inspirational quotes from founder Tony Hsieh

Zappos have been one of the first online retailers to embrace the value of product demos. As early as 2010, they bravely began investing millions of dollars in a content library that today boasts more than 50,000 hours of video, leading the way for other giants to follow suit (Amazon, Nike, Gap, etc.). Today we’ll take a look at the types of video they produce and how and where they place them for maximum impact and effectiveness.

The product demo videos (available for almost all products on are used to describe and demonstrate the products with real Zappos employees and not models or actors. Those videos are said to have a sales impact of 6 to 30% which has prompted Zappos to also invest in 10+ video production studios to continue to grow their video catalogue.

So what’s the secret to their sales increase? The videos they produce are professional quality but with a casual attitude. They use their staff to host these videos and encourage them to express their individuality and quirks. Using real human beings helps the customer relate and that in turn builds trust. Even though these are obviously sales video, aka: there are no critiques as you would get in customer-made online video reviews, it feels like the Zappos staff member turned host is delivering honest and personal information about the product. The greatest challenge for online retailers is how to replicate the customer experience of visiting a brick and mortar store and being able to hold the product in their hands. Zappos early adoption of product demo video has proven to be the most successful solution yet.

“Never accept or be too comfortable with the status quo, because the companies that get into trouble are historically the ones that aren’t able to adapt to change and respond quickly enough.” [Tony Hsieh]

Company Culture:

The Zappos Video vault is a page on their website dedicated to company culture video. Here’s how they describe this library of content: As you may know, Zappos has a long-lasting, well-documented history of creating a fun and exciting work environment. Since our birth 16 years ago, we’ve collected some incredible and amazing footage that captures the many laughs and good-natured scares of working at our headquarters. As you watch, you’ll see we’re a company full of pranksters, creatives and do-gooders that are determined to connect with our fellow employees, as well as the outlying community.

Zappos are right on brand with this clever investment, they are the online shoe store giant that cares about it’s staff and its customers. In his book “Delivering Happiness” Zappos founder Tony Hsieh emphasizes the importance of encouraging a workforce of happy, healthy people and a working environment that encourages personal growth. The videos in the Zappos vault definitely support their self-proclaimed culture of fun, antics and the encouragement of weirdness and creativity. And even more importantly, that Zappos is a fun and fulfilling places to work.

“Wake up every day and ask yourself not only what is the 1% improvement I can change to make Zappos better, but also what is the 1% improvement I can change to make myself better personally and professionally. In the end we, as Zappos, can’t grow unless we, as individuals, grow too.” [Tony Hsieh]

Beyond Their Website:

Zappos have also been smart to not only post their own self-produced content to third party video hosting sites such as YouTube, they also offer official feedback in the comments section of customer-created content (both disgruntled and satisfied). This behavior offers the company two major benefits:

  1. YouTube is the second most popular web destination (beat only by in the world, by posting their product demo and company culture videos to YouTube, they are exposing millions of potential new shoppers to Zappos products, without the advertising spend.
  2. By replying to customers directly on a third party site they are building trust. This direct interaction implies that the Zappos customer service staff care about the satisfaction of their customers. Also supporting their authenticity and thus building trust is that their communication is being conducted publically, not via personal contact with the specific customer.  

“Open, honest communication is the best foundation for any relationship, but remember that at the end of the day it’s not what you say or what you do, but how you make people feel that matters the most.” [Tony Hsieh]

What has been your experience of online shopping and viewing product demo videos?

If you’d like to take a leaf out of Tony Hsieh’s book and create video content for your online business, then send us an email to find out how we can help increase your sales and build your brand. //

Get to Know Front Runner Films

Front Runner Films is a corporate video production company telling humorous and heartfelt stories helping bring products, companies and passion to light.

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