With so many startups bringing new ideas to the table, video-driven commerce feels like a fresh new way to sell, although the essence of coupling moving pictures with moving product has been around for decades with incumbents like HSN investing early on in the TV-plus-transaction business model.
But the smartphone’s reigning status as the omnipresent consumer device of choice explains why video commerce is among the year’s top trends—and the most promising new way to reach not only fickle, easily distracted Gen Z and millennial shoppers, but cross-border customers, too.
HelpJess, for one, is throwing its hat into an increasingly crowded ring already occupied by startups including Shoclef, ShopShops, Streamlist and Dote alongside Amazon’s and Facebook’s efforts to crack into the world of mobile video commerce. HelpJess officially launched on Monday following a beta period that has attracted several merchants, though talks are underway with large retailers, the company said.
Founded by Australian entrepreneur Simon La Barrie, HelpJess bills itself as a new experience blending personal shopping with video chat and the convenience of mobile-based commerce. A close cousin to a company like ShopShops, HelpJess’s patented interactive video offering bridges the gap between distant shops and shoppers so a consumer in China can use the mobile tool to virtually visit a boutique in, say, Los Angeles—aiding the growing market for cross-border commerce.
China’s robust but closely scrutinized market for “daigou” shopping, which means “buying on behalf,” already validates the concept of purchasing products by means of a faraway intermediary. But instead of dispatching a specific daigou shopper via plane, a mobile solution like HelpJess leverages boots already on the ground.
In a statement, La Barrie said HelpJess (named for his daughter) helps quiet the “chatter around struggling brick-and-mortar stores” by “bridging a connection between in-store purchase and online reach and convenience.”
Shopping online has its merits but certain aspects of being in the store can’t be matched. “Our wish was to innovate the online shopping industry and create a truly Online to Offline (O2O) omnichannel experience,” La Barrie explained.
“Being able to connect face-to-face, having that personal touch to close the sale and then being able to process payment easily with the shopper will significantly increase revenue for participating retailers,” he continued, noting that HelpJess allows consumers in China to pay for their purchases using Alipay or Wepay QR codes as they’re accustomed to doing. The app also supports American Express, Apple Pay and Wells Fargo.
And video-based shopping could shore up e-commerce conversion rates that suffer from high cart abandonment when shoppers just aren’t sure about product quality, size, color and other attributes. “Shoppers don’t get a complete sense of the product from the small thumbnail images available to them online,” explained La Barrie.
“By bringing retailers directly into the homes of shoppers around the world and allowing consumers to see the product up close and personal through the video chat presentation,” he said, “cart abandonment and return rates will be reduced, securing more consistent revenue for retailers.”
Officially launched on May 9 during Philly Tech Week, Duzy TV maintains its own unique spin on video commerce. Much as Instagram Checkout is designed to streamline social buying and keep users in the Facebook-owned site’s ecosystem, Duzy TV secured a patent for a video platform that captures lead-gen info or lets people buy or donate without ever leaving the video they’re watching.
Issued by the United States Patent and Trademark Office on June 25, 2019, U.S. patent number 10,334,320 covers “the ability to engage with video content items, including the ability to purchase items…all within the confines of the player…”
“The idea of blending content and commerce has been talked about forever,” said Duzy TV COO Martin Bispels, who spent more than five years at home shopping giant QVC. Claiming to be the world’s first transactional video player, Duzy TV integrates with popular online commerce tools like Shopify, WooCommerce and eBay so that merchants with storefronts on those platforms can quickly begin selling with video that takes just “two minutes” to set up.
Bispels said Duzy TV never wants to get in the way of the customer—or the seller. The company doesn’t charge platform access or service fees, instead taking a 10 percent revenue share whenever a business makes a sale or a non-profit or political campaign lands a donation. The next 12 months could bring $50 million in growth, Bispels projected, as businesses wake up to the video opportunity.
The COO said Duzy TV will likely find fans among digital natives, young consumers for whom technology is like a second skin. “And I think for some product categories, like apparel, that’s a huge advantage,” Bispels said.
The reasons to invest in video commerce are compelling. Animoto’s video marketing survey discovered that four times as many people would rather watch a video about a product than simply read a few lines of text, while online retailer stacksandstacks.com found that people who viewed a video were 144 percent more likely to buy than those who did not.
And half of shoppers search out online product videos before they decide to buy something in store, according to the Think With Google blog.