I am one of those strong believers that think the future of the internet will be dominated by video content, and those videos will influence all areas of our online life, from education to retail.
That’s probably why, when I was back in London in October 2014 visiting Marcus Gnirck, COO at Startup Bootcamp Fintech, I was glad to be introduced to Karoline Gross and to Smartzer, her startup that is revolutionizing the way people shop, both in physical stores and online, thanks to video-tagging technology.
Smartzer’s technology creates interactive videos that make purchasable items clickable and shoppable. It’s primarily tailored for fashion firms and their e-commerce portals, yet it’s also being used in retail stores through touchscreens.
The startup was founded in 2012 and bagged an angel investment, which included serial entrepreneur Jamie True, to seed fund it at $400,000 in October 2014. It achieved a further funding round of $250,000 in March 2016 from a group of angels, which included Frederic Vander Elst, CTO at Experian.
The UK fashion and retail industry was the first to take notice after Smartzer unveiled its software at London Fashion Week in October 2014 through Giant iTab touchscreens. Whistles and Outnet.com opted for the service right away, and since then more than 20 big brands such as Adidas, Bvlgari, Burberry, and Valentino have the feature embedded in their videos.
As always with genius ideas, the basic concept is deceptively simple, but the realization is not. Until recently, consumers had the choice to shop at traditional retail fashion stores, which feature a wide range of products that weren’t as easily accessible as websites, or to shop online, viewing one item at a time, with a single image that works to advertise and sell the item. The next step up is online videos featuring eye-grabbing fashion shows with all your favourite brands and their fashion lines; yet still with no direct or simple way to purchase.
If you’ve ever had this problem, Smartzer has developed the solution as it specifically aims to augment the shopping experience for fashion and retail customers. Essentially, online videos featuring purchasable items, thanks to Gross’ clever software, will display an overlay with annotations tagging the individual products. A single click on a product featured in the video will then send customers to a separate page where they can view the full product information and purchase it.
The potential effects video-tagging will have on the retail industry are truly game changing, and the customers seem to get it too. In the first week of Whistles’ fashion show video using Smartzer, over 3000 items were purchased using the technology.
Today, video-tagging is becoming the norm for any brand that realizes technology plays a crucial role in selling its products. Much more than supporting sales directly from videos, it will also help brands understand their consumers with analytics that will shape the way future videos are shot.
Video alone is one of the most powerful advertising tools, therefore making video go further through customer interactivity is a natural progression that will soon be seen in all industries, from fashion and retail to even banking.