Never stop moving - a “how-to” for catwalk videos
I am Amicis, a part of Zalando Content Creation since 2015. We aim to offer customers a convenient and engaging shopping experience through a realistic, fashionable and emotional presentation of each product. Simply put, we take photos. We style outfits. We create the visual inspiration and provide the product information for customers to make the right choice - no matter where they are or whatever their style is.
Customers may not be aware but we continually make improvements large and small, from the back-end infrastructure to more customer facing changes such as new presentation formats. When I joined Zalando as an innovation project manager, Content Creation was already producing full body model photography and inspiring formats like shop the look that helps customers to shop a whole outfit.
One presentation format that we had always considered was the use of moving images. They provide a unique opportunity to go beyond model photography and to highlight elements that photos alone can not. To decide what video strategy was right for our customers, we applied Zalando's data driven and customer first approach.
Therefore, we paired up with the User Insights team to ask Zalando customers directly what fashion clothing items they find most difficult to shop online. For women, they identified dresses and denim jeans in this category. In addition, we asked what presentation format our customers thought would help. The most preferred solution? A “short video of a model wearing the product and moving”. Check!
We then created video mockups and entered the second phase of our customer-first approach. Customers were invited into our User Research lab to learn directly from them if they would prefer a classic catwalk video or more of a product video to highlight details and if the product in hand matches their expectations created through the videos. These customer insights taught us to seek out the “sweet spot” combining catwalk and product video as well as balancing other elements such as a full body perspective with natural movement and a close up shot to highlight relevant product details. In addition, we also learned that we had to pay more attention to the pace of the model walk, edit cuts as well as make adjustments to the styling.
With customer insights in hand, we set out to introduce video production into our photo-production site in Berlin. We set ourselves the ambitious goal of producing 1,000 videos within 10 weeks. Within the first weeks, we refined the "sweet spot" as well as optimized a workflow for our studio. Our studio production staff tried out various camera positions with different focuses, adjusted model walking, poses, and styling. Along the way, we all had some laughs and takeaways. For example, we were lucky to have colleagues who drew upon their past experience and expertises to hold a how-to catwalk workshop. I learned that where you place your weight and arm positions (slightly back) can make all the difference. It is all in the strut. Walking the walk of a catwalk is truly much more difficult than it looks! And that is without wearing high heels. Together, we all contributed to improving emotion, movement, style and to make other refinements that you see today.
In the meanwhile, while we were focusing on producing video content, our Tech colleagues wrote the lines of code and developed an upload video feature in just three weeks. They connected our production and made the magic happen: since November videos have been integrated into our Fashion Store. Customers can view videos for women's jeans and dresses to see how the fabric stretches, moves and can infer elements that photos alone can not. We believe that with our take on the catwalk video, our customers are better informed to ♥ (add to their wish list) or add to their basket. In other words, to decide "this pair of jeans will be mine!"
What's next? The plan is to produce more videos for an ever larger assortment. We will also test our hypothesis in an A/B test. After all, in addition to having a customer-first mentality, data is in our fashion DNA. Also be on the lookout for other inspiring formats because like fashion, we never stand still.
Author: Amicis is working as Innovation Manager at Zalando since November 2015.