“Wait -- how many user-generated videos does Sears have on its e-commerce site?” I asked, nearly falling off a stationary ATV in the mountains near Lake Tahoe. “33,000,” replied John Courtney, whose unusual title (Certified Agile Project Manager and Marketing Professional at Sears Holdings E-Commerce Content Strategy) indicates a preference for prolific innovation. 

And sure enough, after resuming our conversation on terra firma, I was pretty much blown away that Sears already had tens of thousands of user-generated video reviews that were having a material impact on Web sales. Although Courtney would not reveal Sears’ future plans, it is easy to imagine that there could be millions of these videos in the not-too-distant future, and here are five reasons why.



1. They drive sales

Working with a company called ExpoTV, Sears has enlisted an army of reviewers that they call “brand-connected consumers.” This elite group’s video reviews are directly matched to approximately 12,500 relevant items on product pages. “So far, product pages with consumer-generated videos appear to outperform those without,” Courtney says of these reviews’ impact.

2. They’re much cheaper than pro videos

Another reason to solicit user-generated videos? “You can get hundreds of them for around the same cost of a handful of professionally produced videos,” explains Courtney. Of course, with cheap comes spotty quality, which means all user-generated videos need to be screened. ExpoTV takes care of this for Sears, clearing out any “lascivious [content] or improper use of product.”

3. They add credibility

It is a known fact in the world of e-commerce that sites with both good and bad customer reviews have higher sales than those that have no reviews or just positive ones. The same applies to video reviews. “It’s important that all consumer-generated product review videos -- whether good or bad -- are available so it’s authentic,” notes Courtney. Turns out honesty is a damn good policy.

4. They enhance product perceptions

They say that perception is reality, and that certainly applies in this case. Among the more surprising results Courtney shared is that posting videos on product pages generates its own interest and drives sales even when people don’t watch the videos. In essence, these user-generated reviews function as a “seal of approval” simply by being there. 

5. They’re a surprisingly good source of customer feedback

Perhaps more than other types of user-generated content, videos create a unique listening opportunity for brands, since reviewers often put their heart and soul into their efforts. “The more you listen and heed users’ comments to strengthen your brand, the more valuable the conversation will become,” Courtney advises. 

Final note: John and I met at the highly informative MediaPost Social Media Insider Summit back in August, during which he cleared up any doubts I had about the potential and scalability of UGC. To see our extensive conversation on Sears’ burgeoning video review program, be sure to visit The Drew Blog.