Online video has completely changed certain industries. Retail is no exception.

Online retail has always suffered from the distance between the purchase decision and the physical experience of the purchased product. Workarounds like product sampling have worked reasonably well for certain categories – just ask BirchBox. Still, online video is the only tool that truly helps bridge that gap instantaneously.

So, why is online video so successful for retailers? Keep reading to learn more about the impact of video on ecommerce.

Widening the Funnel

Outside of certain categories like fashion, online shoppers often search for the product they are looking for in generic terms, rather than specific brand names. Having a product video can help you rise through search rankings and get more clicks to your site. If you are in the consumer packaged goods space, people might even be searching for specific brands, but you will still want to show up first in organic search results. It can also help improve your quality score if you are bidding on search terms in AdWords or AdCenter.

Beyond SEO and SEM, online video has also performed on social media for customer acquisition – and in some very creative ways. Clever branding and how-to videos help make websites top of mind for when people are actively shopping for products online. Here are two companies that are doing really inspiring campaigns on Vine, for example.

Depending on how agile your marketing is, you do not even have to make the video in question. Take a lesson from online-only retailer, who capitalized on the viral “What does the fox say” video by Ylvis by blogging about ways shoppers could use different accessories to make costumes inspired by the video. Their blog got a 200% boost in traffic year over year from people searching for ways to emulate the costumes in the video, and revenue was up 300% year over year.

Enhancing the Purchase Decision

In online marketing, it is all too easy to forget that there are real people behind the numbers shifting on Google Real-Time. However, actually understanding and connecting with a person who is seeking the products you sell online dramatically increases the likelihood they will convert to a purchaser. In a retail conversion funnel, a product video can play a very important role in the decision-making process because it provides that connection, and if you understand your target shopper, you will be able to communicate exactly what they need to hear to click add to cart.

A classic example of a retailer who excels at this is Zappos, who gets up to a 30% boost in conversion rates from adding videos to shopping pages. Online video has been shown to improve shopper confidence in a purchase decision by more than 50%.

Today, online video is moving beyond simple product videos. Popular women’s makeup brand and retailer Bobbi Brown recently tested a new interactive product video, where shoppers can make a purchase directly from the video player.

Interactive product video from Bobbi Brown

This type of interactive retail video is shaping the future of how people will make buying decisions. It enhances the emotional connection a shopper makes with a product while perusing options online, increasing the likelihood they will buy. By integrating the ability to make a purchase directly into a video demonstrating a product, retailers can shorten the purchase funnel and create a more seamless, immersive brand experience for the shopper.

How has online video changed your marketing funnel, or industry at large? Tell us about it in the comments below or on Facebook and Twitter!