Explainer videos in e-commerce

The generational shift and new models of content consumption are transforming the way users expect to interact with internet stores.

Video content is now an absolute must - 54% of customers expect videos from brands they support and follow online. Thus, it is not a surprise that 87% of marketing professionals use video as a key tool in their online marketing strategy.

With the growth of Generation Z, the trend is growing and they are of course cover a much bigger slice of the market. In fact, by 2020 people born between the mid-1990s and early 2000s will comprise 40% of the workforce. That’s a real game-changer, as these post-millennials are the first generation truly brought up in a digital-first world. They won’t remember the time before Google, and see the smartphone as a natural human companion. Amazingly, more than 50% of GenZ-ers are online for more than 10 hours a day, and 95% have access to a smartphone.

What’s even more significant, is that Instagram and YouTube are the most popular media platforms, enabling users to share and watch video content or images with ease ad across their networks. This creates a great opportunity for those e-commerce brands willing to access this group via video, especially explainer videos.


How to start a video marketing

With almost every mobile device having a camera and numerous on-line tutorials focusing on how to make a good video, starting a video marketing campaign is not that difficult. Moreover, there are numerous partners willing to support business in this area. Greenhorn companies usually take a two-pronged approach:

  1. Building own content - a good place to start, but requires a relatively large investment both in terms of staff and equipment; you will need to buy quality recorders, rent or organize a studio and train or hire a specialist who will be responsible for delivering the content. No matter what, the company cannot deliver low-quality materials. Also, it’s neither easy nor fast to build reach and a loyal audience.
  2. Partnering with influencers - influencers usually deliver short videos showing how they use various products. They have a large, engaged audience resulting in good reach. Yet the influencer is never owned, and the company needs to compete with other brands. Moreover, influencers should be chosen carefully, as there is a risk that they can build a negative reach by offering careless opinions.

The Chinese example...

Traditional e-commerce tools like SEO or social media marketing are a great way of reaching customers that are actively interested in buying a product. On the other hand, online retailers struggle to get access to those users who are not interested in making a purchase, or who have never considered making one.

Companies usually have a huge amount of data regarding customers who have bought or at least researched a product on the website, but typically have little to no data on the ones who never considered a purchase. Grabbing their attention with video posted on various sites dedicated to entertainment, is a great way to teach them about the product and ultimately convince them to buy.

According to Jing Daily, short videos and live-streaming sessions are considered a tactic that influence cross-border e-commerce in China by 21.4 and 16.5 percent of marketers respectively.

Source: Jing Daily

Chinese brands are reaching customers by increasing the number of web portals dedicated to the uploading and sharing of short, catchy videos. As well as the more established Chinese social platforms like WeChat and Weibo, there are new platforms flourishing, such as Little Red Book, now a market leader. Taobao, the Chinese internet mogul, generated a mind-boogling US$15.1 billion via live-streaming sessions and transactions.

...and the rest of the world

Videos support brands not only off-site content, but also on-site. Numerous brands provide video content to enhance product presentation pages. Short form videos come in many different guises:


  • Explainer video - that’s the situation when the company shows how to use the product. This can be applied both in B2B and B2C segments. A shop with board games can show sample play, or a specialist from a company selling software can present the guidelines for best use of the product.
  • Unboxing - that’s basically showing how the product looks within the box - what the package contains, what are extras and how to prepare to fully enjoy the first-use of the product. With almost 50% of users saying that they don’t expect their products to look the same when they arrive, this provides clear information that helps to reduce the uncertainty.
  • Sample product presentation - the shop shows the product from many angles, demonstrating how it looks and works.

All the forms mentioned above significantly reduce the uncertainty that comes with buying goods online. While it is impossible to ‘touch’ the product, videos provide a more valuable and trustworthy image of it. Also, the video can be entertaining in itself, and function both as an advertisement for the brand, and a product presentation.

Delivering emotions

Last but not least, videos are a much better medium for sharing and building emotions around a brand. Video can show the real joys of using the product, and the quality and appeal can be shown in such a waythat can never be achieved through text or imager. It is also much harder to tweak and manipulate video especially when live-streaming, and so trust is more immediate.

The brand, ‘Man Crates’ sells personalized presents in a wooden crate to be opened by the ‘manly men’, prepared a good example of a video presenting the brand’s promise.

Another example of a great product explainer video comes from Solo Stove, a company delivering a backpacking wood-powered stove. Contrary to most of the stoves used on camping trips, the Solo Stove needs no additional fuel to be carried, and delivers great cooking performance. That’s the key feature to be conveyed to the customer and backed up with other benefits that surround the product.


Up to 80% of buyers state that good video content gives them more confidence when purchasing a product. Thus, companies that decide to harness the power of video can gain a significant sales boost.

When it comes to videos promoting content - the more, the better. Best practice encourages brands to invite users to upload videos of themselves using the product and giving reviews, further reducing any doubts people may have about a product.