I recently had the opportunity to speak at The National Retail Federation’s BIG Show in New York City along with Eric Mahlstadt from Golfsmith. We shared retail video trends and Golfsmith’s learnings in front of an audience of retailers. With the meteoric adoption of video (projected by Cisco to constitute 90% of Internet traffic by 2013) and the results Golfsmith has delivered in increased conversion and customer experience, attendees left the session with a sense of urgency around video.

The highlight of the show for me was learning from the attendees. The BIG Show fills the Javits Center with people from every area of retail. I talked with online retailers, bricks-and-mortar traditionalists, marketers, ecommerce experts and vendors selling solutions for every pain point in the retail ecosystem. Everyone I talked with seemed to have video on their mind. Three things stood out from my conversations.

1) No One Thinks They’ve Cracked the Video Code

Retailers were intensely interested in hearing about what other retailers were doing with video. Early adopters are beginning to uncover keys to success; however, we all have so much to learn.  I heard questions ranging from “should I use the same video for my site and mobile”  to “where are the best places to incorporate video into my site”.  And the rapid pace of change means that even the early adopting retailers who lead with video can’t take their position for granted.  I remember how quickly early learnings impacted the approach to paid search from my days at GoTo.com.  I see the same thing happening with eCommerce video.

2) It’s All About Sales

Speakers who caught retailers’ attention did so by clearly focusing on increasing sales. That made the conversion impact of video a key point in nearly every conversation I had. It also led to the natural next question, “If video converts, how do I produce enough to cover my catalog, and where do I start.”

3) Social and Mobile Combine with Video to Create Opportunity

It wasn’t all about video. Social and mobile were hot topics also. Retailers are intensely focused on the impact mobile (including tablets) will have on the shopping experience.  With continuous internet access on the horizon, retailers must figure out what information consumers want both on the Web and in store aisles.  The pioneers in this arena have already figured out that stores must provide connectivity or consumers will go elsewhere.  That being the case, consumers are beginning to seek key product information such as consumer ratings and key benefits via mobile devices.  And I believe the primary content delivery vehicle for product features and benefits will be video.

After spending a few days with top retailers at the NRF BIG Show, it’s clear to me that video will have a major impact on retail in the years to come.  And that should make all of us extremely optimistic about what’s ahead in 2011 and beyond.