Gabrielle O’Hare is the Content Controller at Argos – managing the 5th biggest content production studio in Europe producing all the photography and video that’s used on Argos’s website. Argos is a UK multichannel retailer that turns over £4bn. For those of you outside the UK who aren’t familiar with Argos they sell pretty much everything – from jewellery and toys through homewares and garden, have stores everywhere, and a massive catalogue of products that all kids in the UK have very fond memories of play-shopping from.
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About the business
- eCommerce Business Structure – Multichannel
- Product Range Scale – department store
- On a Bespoke platform
- UK business, selling to the UK
Gabrielle’s career started in advertising, and she always worked in the retail space. About ten years ago, she moved to an advertising agency that did photography and video production. As soon as she stepped into a studio, she was sold and knew she didn’t want to do anything else. It was amazing to be able to stand on a set and look at content being created instead of having to sit behind a desk all day.
The Argos Studio
The studio is about one hundred thousand square feet, half of which is dedicated to handling samples and sample management. They keep a team of about eighty-five people year round, as well as seasonal artists. They have about fifteen photographers and a team of about fifteen for production on videography and editing, but the bulk of their work is in photography.
The team at Argos looks at how they can give customers a good experience of the product when they shop online. Depending on the product type, this experience could be simple shots with different views of the product, or it could be building a set, such as a room, for furniture products so customers can see the scale and context, or creating a video explaining things like how to open a sofa bed.
Deciding Between Photography and Video
The first thing to do in deciding what kind of content to create it knowing your product. You also need to understand your customer and how your customer is going to shop.
Concentrate on getting good product images photographed on a white background that shows the customer everything they need to know and answers their potential questions about the product’s features and benefits. You must get that base right first, before you consider adding videos.
Listen to hear an example about a problem describing hair dryer wattages to customers, and a number of ways to solve it.
It’s also prudent to consider what the return of the investment is likely to be. Look at the margins and the life cycle of the product before spending a lot of money on videography.
Scaling Video Tests
You can do video tests on a smaller level at first, then scale them. Look at your top ten products or bestsellers, and play with them. Find out the optimum number of images. Find out if adding video makes a difference. Pay attention to customer feedback and reviews, as they will be quick to point out missing information.
Listen to learn how Schuh experimented with shoe models, then scaled it up.
When to Create Video Content
There is a limit to what you can tell customers through photography. You could take pictures of ten different television screens, but they’d all look the same. A video can help your customer understand the technical differences between them. A product with moving components, such as a sofa bed, also benefits from videos showing customers how to operate it.
Look at the two classifications for products, commodity and emotional. A commodity is something like a kettle that people may need but not be very interested in. An emotional purchase product is something larger, like a sofa, that is a big decision and must fit into their lifestyle. A video can help raise their confidence when making an emotional purchase online.
Listen to learn why customers may feel like a video is more authentic that a photograph.
Other Ways to Use Videos
If you use videos, think of other places outside the product page to use it. Send a video to customers after they’ve bought a product to show them how to operate it, reducing the number of returns and queries you receive. Create stills and gifs out of videos and post them in a few different places. One video may be able to produce ten different pieces of content.
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eCommerce Book Top Tip
- The Art of Shopping: How We Shop and Why We Buy by Siemon Scamell-Katz
eCommerce Traffic Top Tip
- Content. There is a huge number of channels where people can see your content, such as Instagram or Facebook. Put products into those environments to drive traffic back to the site, using natural search terms
You can hear about all this on the podcast, for free – right now…
Tool Top Tip
Start Up Top Tip
Content. Understand your customers, why they want your product, and how they’re going to shop for it. Never lose sight of knowing that you’re selling something, and you must be sure you’re an expert in your product