In order to engage with the modern consumer, in recent years a wave of fashion houses have shifted towards a see-now-buy-now model, instigating instantly shoppable strategies. In the last number of years in particular, brands like Tom Ford, Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger have launched shoppable runway shows, transforming these events - once reserved for industry insiders - into a source of immediate consumer sales and intrigue.
Social media platforms, like Instagram, have recognised the potential of instant shopping. It first rolled out its shoppable feature in March 2017, allowing brands and retailers to monetise their own imagery. In June 2018, it scaled up its in-app shopping capabilities for consumers to purchase products via stories, its ten-second video tool used by over 300 million users globally. So far, Adidas, the Kooples and Louis Vuitton have all utilised the new service.
Although consumers are just getting used to the idea of shopping directly from images and videos, one company is keen to normalise the experience. Founded by Karoline Gross in 2016, UK-based start-up Smartzer specialises in interactive shoppable videos. "With the rise of social media channels, consumers now expect to interact with content in a seamless, genuine format and immediately access more information," Gross explains to ORDRE.
Smartzer's simple technology acts as a sleeve: a brand's ready-made video content can be tagged with clickable features within minutes, adding shoppable areas to any product across the footage. For effortless style integration, brands then have the option to customise the video experience to match their branding. "We have seen higher engagement rates with an invisible shoppable overlay that doesn't clutter the video, compared to large clickable buttons that are more obvious," Gross continues.
She goes on to explain that this is down to the fact that consumers prefer to be in control of their experiences and have the option to choose what products they interact with and when. "If you don't push products on consumers the way traditional adverts so blatantly do, and you give them the power to discover more information on their own, you are putting more control into their hands, which means they are a lot more likely to engage."
Gross predicts that within the next five years, interactive videos will replace traditional banner ads, a forecast backed by Smartzer's numbers: "Our data shows engagement and click-through rates increase by a factor of 20 when brands use Smartzer's format. She adds that the highest success rates have been with luxury brand collaborations including Bvlgari, Jimmy Choo and Emilio Pucci — luxury consumers are more interested in using the technology to discover information rather than to shop.
“Our data shows engagement and click-through rates increase by a factor of 20 when brands use Smartzer's format.”
Most recently, to coincide with London Fashion Week in September 2018, Smartzer teamed up with luxury retailer, Harvey Nichols, integrating the shoppable experience in-store. Large touchscreens displaying interactive videos were strategically placed across the retailer's five floors. Other than creating consistency across all of Harvey Nichols' digital platforms, Gross states that it helped facilitate the product purchasing journey and added to consumers' unique shopping experience.
Additionally, Gross outlines how numerous brands from varying sectors such as Burberry, Whistles and JD Sports have all used Smartzer's technology to direct their products to buyers, particularly through shoppable runway videos. According to the founder, "Long 15 to 20 minute videos, like runway shows, often work better to reach a buyer audience who are interested to see every look in the collection. Brands can send this link directly to buyers after the show, and also use it to learn about what they are most interested in."
Smartzer cleverly tracks the analytics behind its videos, offering brands an invaluable tool to record specific viewer interactions and product preferences. As Gross outlines, heat maps give insights into which parts of video perform best across different channels, helping companies and brands to create more engaging videos in the future.
Currently with only a team of ten, for now Smartzer will focus on working with brands in Europe, but Gross hopes it will soon expand to the US: "We are in the process of setting up a presence in New York in response to a sudden increase in demand in this market, both from brands as well as agencies."
She adds that there is also huge potential in Asia, particularly in China. "We haven't been able to penetrate the Chinese market yet, due to numerous restrictions on social media platforms as well as Google and Amazon," Gross summarises. "One day we hope to deploy a China version of our platform, applicable to local apps and websites like Weibo and Wechat." It seems that day is fast approaching.
Discover Smartzer's shoppable video collaboration with Harvey Nichols below.
Harvey Nichols X Smartzer. Courtesy of Smartzer