Invodo’s Craig Wax: Video Shapes Future of E-Commerce

Craig WaxWe recently wrote about the role video currently plays in savvy Internet retailers’ e-commerce strategies. But do videos make sense for products with a short shelf life? Do videos help with SEO? And are we entering an era where product videos will replace written content altogether?

I recently caught up with Craig Wax, the CEO of Invodo, one of the companies leading the video commerce revolution. Craig and I talked about the future of video and what it means for content merchandisers and companies that sell products online.

Product Video May Herald a New Standard in Consumer Interaction

Content Ping: Why do online shoppers like video so much?

Craig Wax: There are a couple of really important reasons. First, video is the closest thing possible to achieving an in-store experience and interacting with a product. A photograph doesn’t always provide enough information to buy the product, whereas seeing how a product works gives you the confidence to buy online.

The second reason is that most people learn best by watching and listening. Only 10 percent of the population learns best by reading.  As a result, video makes it easier for consumers to learn about products.

Content Ping: You’ve said before that product videos will hit online commerce “like a tidal wave.” What did you mean by that?

Craig Wax: I believe that pretty much everywhere you see a product picture today, in the future you’ll see a video. This isn’t really surprising, if you think about the complexity of many of the products online retailers carry and how well video lends itself to explaining the features and the benefits.

I don’t think videos will replace written content because different people learn in different ways. However,  I do think you will see people watching more product videos over time and reading less text.

Content Ping: Many manufacturers are reluctant to commission product videos because they view the process as being complicated and costly for something with such a short shelf life. Is that a fair assessment?

Craig Wax: It depends on what type of video we’re talking about. A 30-second TV commercial can take months to create and costs thousands or millions of dollars. But creating product videos for the Internet requires a different approach. At Invodo, we can create hundreds of videos in a week. We shoot to scale and have automated the workflow. That kind of setup can make it affordable for a company to commission videos for products with a short shelf life.

Each company needs to do an analysis of whether producing a video makes sense. If the product will have an extremely short shelf life, then you have to ask yourself whether the lift in conversion rates justifies creating a video.

Content Ping: Walk us through the basic process for creating a product video.

Craig Wax: The first thing we do is meet with the manufacturer to talk about what objectives we are trying to achieve. This video strategy session ensures we are on the same page. From there, we help clients determine which products make the most sense to use in a video. And then we work with the client to develop a production template that incorporates the brand positioning and brand attributes. At that point, we can begin writing the scripts and selecting the talent. We have an online portal where we post talent recommendations and scripts, which makes it easy for clients to review and approve without getting bogged down with emails going back and forth.

Our clients send products to our 200,000-square-foot production facility just outside of Dallas. We have seven production studios, which allows us to shoot over one hundred product videos each day.

Once we shoot the videos, all these videos are also uploaded to our online portal so that they can be reviewed.

Content Ping: Why not shoot on location?

What’s happening is that online shoppers now expect to see video when they shop online.

Craig Wax: We shoot on location if it makes sense. But most of what we do is in studio. The reason is that by the time a consumer is on the product page looking at a video, that person is already pretty far down the purchasing path so we don’t need to worry about creating brand awareness. We focus on communicating the features and benefits of a product in a credible and authentic way. And shooting in a studio is an effective and efficient way to do that.

Content Ping: How has the decline in costs associated with producing, uploading, and hosting video affected your business model?

Craig Wax: The most important thing that has happened is that technology has advanced to the point where it’s easy for consumers to watch video online. People have broadband Internet connections. They own smartphones and tablets. They’re comfortable with video and expect to see it. What’s happening is that online shoppers now expect to see video when they shop online.

Content Ping: Has this changed how your e-commerce clients view video?

Craig Wax: Yes, we’re seeing an expansion taking place. Once they have the product videos, they begin to think about creating category videos. For example, if you’ve never purchased a PC before, a category video can help you figure out how to select a brand and what features to look for. Retailers and manufacturers are making these overview videos for people who are higher up in the purchase funnel.

Some of our clients are also starting to use video to improve the post-sale experience. They’re coming up with videos that explain how to assemble or install something as a way to help consumers who find written instructions difficult to understand. In the future, you’re going to see QR codes that link to videos instead of instruction manuals.

Once the video has been created, we encourage our clients to use it in as many places as makes sense. They can post it to their product page, YouTube channel, Facebook page, and use it in an email campaign. We recommend our clients think beyond product page. As long as they’ve invested in video asset, it’s a no-brainer to get as many uses out of it as they can.

Content Ping: What challenges does video have in terms of SEO?

Craig Wax: Search engines are giving a boost to websites with video. In order to take full advantage of this, you must strategically place and tag your videos. For example, if a consumer submits a specific product search query, you’ll want a listing to appear that points to your product page. If a consumer submits a general product search query like digital camera, you’ll want a listing to appear that points to a video gallery. We work with our clients on SEO strategy. Out of that we create video galleries, create the meta data, and ensure the videos are indexed by the search engines.

SEO is inherently very complex. So you need to know what you’re doing and have expertise in video SEO in order to optimize your video content for search engines.

Content Ping: Do you see product videos eventually replacing or lessening the need for written content?

Craig Wax: I don’t think videos will replace written content because different people learn in different ways. However,  I do think you will see people watching more product videos over time and reading less text.

That said, there is certain information, such as technical product details, that will best be communicated with text. I believe text and video are going to continually evolve and improve. E-commerce will keep growing and retailers and manufacturers are going to put more and more emphasis on improving the online shopping experience. If you think back to the old days of the web, it was primarily text based. Then every e-commerce site began adding pictures. But this addition of visual images did not displace text, it just modified how the text was used. The same thing is happening with video. This will continue to evolve; in the future we’re going to have avatars and three-dimensional capabilities. I’m confident that both video and text will continue to evolve along right along with the web.

Craig Wax
A full-service video solution for business, Invodo creates high-quality product video at scale and develops new technology to influence consumers where it matters most. Craig leads Invodo’s overall market strategy, product vision, and investor relationships. Prior to Invodo, Craig was Senior Vice President and General Manager at He resides in Dallas with his wife and two children.


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