Y Combinator-Backed SellStage Wants To Help You Better Showcase Your Products — With Video

If you’re advertising a product, would you rather simply have an image of that product, or have your consumers be able to watch a video of that product in action? Unless you’re sarcastic like myself, you probably answered with the latter, because the truth is that videos help products sell online. This is true even for those vendors that sell products that one wouldn’t necessarily assume would be made more attractive with video. Consider Zappos, for example, which currently offers over 50,000 product videos. Zappos also happens to do a pretty good business.

For SellStage, a startup from this summer’s batch of Y Combinator companies that is launching today, Zappos is the standard. But most big eTailers are far behind the shoe seller in terms of video content. So SellStage is launching a platform that is designed to make it easy for both big and small businesses to add video content to their websites to showcase their products.

Product videos tend to be different enough from other video content that it needs a specific, if not niche, solution. Videos also tend to be a pain in the ass to integrate with product pages, as you can’t just take your normal embed approach, because it will take up too much space, and may even displace the product images.

So, SellStage wants not only host and stream your product videos, but also play them in a lightbox. So after your product video plays, you want a call to action, not simply a replay link. Of course, SEO is critical eCommerce sites, and that most product videos don’t take this into account, so SellStage automatically generates sitemaps optimized for video search crawlers.

On the merchant side, SellStage offers great value proposition in that all you have to do is add one line of Javascript to the product page, and the startup handles the rest, the players, the hosting, and the streaming. You can then drag and drop your videos where you want them, all with a few clicks.

What’s more, SellStage videos work on iOS devices, which a lot of product videos don’t because they use Flash. The startup is also working on tools to make video production easier, including this forthcoming iOS app, and some “you shoot, SellStage edits”-type features.

The startup, while still in its early form, is going to be very useful to marketing departments who want to manage video on their eCommerce platforms, especially for those who have a large product catalog and want to add 500+ videos and not have those turn into 500 IT requests.

“Retailers who consider their expertise a competitive advantage need to find a way to use their greatest asset – their knowledgeable sales staff”, SellStage Co-founder Tom Saffell said. “To differentiate their online stores from everyone else. Video lets them do that”.

Retailars already have everything they need to make great video: The store is set, the sales staff are the actors, and the script is whatever you say to the customers in store — your sales pitch, says Co-founder Thomas Escourrou.

But how is SellStage going to monetize? The Co-founders told me that they are going to establish a tiered pricing structure that takes into account how many videos the company wants to make, host, and stream, and whether or not they want production assistance from SellStage itself. As the startup moves forward, it also will begin giving its customers more customization options.

SellStage is launching in private alpha today, but is making 50 priority invites available to readers. Simply visit the startup’s homepage and enter “concorde” for a sneak peek.