Shopify (or Volusion or Big Commerce) for Selling Streaming Video Access?
by Huntley in General / 08.11.10
I was talking to someone this week about what MindBites is and what it enables you to do - I take great pride in my one-minute and five-minute elevator pitches on the MindBites platform and my extended spiel on the history of our marketplace and the evolution of our MindBites platform offerings. They, however, summed it up pretty nicely by saying that we were “Shopify for people who wanted to sell access to streaming video… or, if you’d rather, Big Commerce for streaming video or Volusion for streaming video.” I tend to shy away from describing what we do in the context of what another company does, but that’s pretty accurate.
The e-commerce models created by Shopify, Big Commerce, Interspire, Volusion, CoreCommerce and others are designed to easily equip both normal and web-savvy people with the tools they need to setup and run an e-commerce store online. These companies have done a fantastic job with the products they offer, but their models don’t lend themselves to streaming video as well as physical products, like books, T-shirts, trinkets or DVDs. The reason for this is that their pricing models weren’t set up to offer these types of products - you don’t want to pay for the bandwidth costs for streaming videos via bandwidth overages. Further, these players aren’t well-equipped to ingest, manage and deliver streaming digital video assets, especially with the complications that inevitably arise between browsers that support flash and mobile devices that don’t. That said, most of these types of solutions have add-ins or options that are pretty proficient if you just want to sell digital downloads. Unfortunately, the digital download model isn’t as appealing for users. They want to preview your video before they buy to get a feel for what they’re signing up for, and they also want to watch the video they purchased immediately online and on-demand. Exhaustive A/B testing on consumer video buying behaviors has definitely shown this to be the case. Thus, MindBites is a great option for those with video content that they’d like to sell access to online.
Just as you can with an e-commerce/cart provider, you can easily create a video-on-demand store to bolt-on to your site with MindBites. This store can be skinned to integrate into your existing website such that users are treated to the same look/feel and the same branding that they see on your site. You control all sorts of aspects of this store - everything from design elements like layout, colors, images, logos, etc to content management elements like content selection, category setup, product display order, etc.
While there is some slight variation in how pricing models work for e-commerce providers like Shopify and Big Commerce, the MindBites platform offerings are a quite different. With MindBites, there is a revenue share that’s much more considerable than what you would usually get from Shopify. To understand why this is the case, it helps to understand how pricing works in general for MindBites. First, if you’re wanting a MindBites-powered custom store, you’ll need to sign up for some level of the MindBites platform, which will come with a fixed monthly pricetag. These prices start at $14 per month and go up from there. If you don’t sell anything through your store in a given month, this is the only cost you’ll incur. Thus, even if you upload a bunch of content and it’s previewed a ton (but never purchased), this is all you’ll pay despite the fact that we will have incurred bandwidth costs for processing your videos and serving up preview versions of them in addition to storage costs. Bandwidth costs are, by far, our largest cost for serving our customers, and presuming your content sells, these costs generally scale up as your revenue scales up. To cover these costs, we take a cut of your revenues rather than capping your bandwidth usage and charging you massive bandwidth overages anytime your sales figures out-perform your estimates. Thus, our portion of your generated revenues cover the costs of bandwidth to serve your content as well as an assortment of other costs, including payment processing, storage, customer support, and affiliate payouts in the event that one of your videos is sold through the MindBites marketplace courtesy of an affiliate referral. So, instead of tagging you with bandwidth caps and bandwidth overage charges that would inevitably surprise you, we try to keep it very simple. You’ll always be able to know exactly how much you’ve earned, and you’ll never be surprised with extra charges at the end of the month from us. Further, with MindBites, you can get started really easily - you don’t need to hassle with merchant accounts or payment gateways. Instead, we handle all of the payment mess on your behalf and you get paid out simply and easily through PayPal (almost immediately whenever you request payment, which you can do anytime your earnings balance is above $25).
If you one day decide that you want a more robust solution than the offerings that are available through the basic MindBites platform options, we can do that, too. Our MindBites Solutions team has worked on deals with various Enterprise content partners that wanted to integrate with their own media accounts or payment gateways, wanted to use their own subdomains, wanted to substantially modify store layout options, wanted to stipulate different media processing specs, etc. Typical MindBites Solutions engagements usually start out with up-front costs starting at $10K, which goes up as the level of complexity and the custom development requirements increase.
Many of our MindBites Solutions content partners started out with a basic platform level such that they could experiment with how their content would be received by customers and what consumer buying behaviors and conversion rates would look like on their custom store. Then, as needed, we incrementally worked with them to move towards a more customized solution once they had a feel for what they wanted to change or add and once they were confident that the revenue generation potential of the store would be well-worth the investment. Ready to get started? Get some nitty-gritty details from our sell your videos page and pick your platform level to get to work creating your custom store. Just think - you can have your store up, ready and selling access to your video content today! The hardest part will be getting your videos uploaded, which admittedly will just involve dragging, dropping, and clicking upload.