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Haul videos are big business. Although they’ve been around for years, many retailers are unaware of what they are. The Commerce Collective investigates the good, the bad and the ugly of haul videos and their impact on featured brands 


If you do so much as a quick search for ‘haul videos’ on YouTube, you’ll be presented by millions of results. The majority of these uploads feature young women surrounded by mounds of shopping bags with thousands of views. 

But just what is a haul video, and what is its appeal? 

Ultimately, they’re videos of shoppers sharing their purchases – or hauls – on camera. These are predominantly focused on clothing and make-up and often feature the presenter exploring the details of the product, or trying them on.  

It is often seen as a by-product of the ‘outfit of the day’ phenomenon (#ootd) on social media, where influencers buy items just to be photographed wearing them, before returning them. And it’s not just luxury brands that are getting caught up in these haul videos. Many feature high-street and budget brands, such as Primark and H&M. 

As with unboxing videos, part of the appeal appears to be the vicarious enjoyment of seeing products being unwrapped, along with the thrill of shopping without spending any money. 

James Davey, Director at Digital Blueprints comments: “There’s also an element of FOMO [fear of missing out]; that by tuning into these videos, they know what’s on trend and what they themselves should be buying this season.” 

“There’s also an element of FOMO”

What you may be surprised by is just how popular these haul videos are, turning some of the presenters into internet stars in their own right. Some of the top haul videos on YouTube have hundreds of thousands of views. 

So what does this rise in haul videos mean for retailers? Well, there are good, bad and ugly sides to this growing trend. Being positive sorts, we’ve decided to start with the upsides. 

The Good 

Haul videos can give your brand exposure to a wide new audience, especially if they have a respectable following. More often than not, the coverage is positive, because the star has gone out and bought your products, before extolling their virtues.  

Some brands have taken this further and chosen to collaborate with these channels, paying to be featured in a video. However, in the interests of transparency, it is best for the influencer to be up-front about the collaboration. It could be damaging to both of your reputations if it transpires that the review wasn’t quite as honest as viewers had been led to believe. 

The Bad 

Unfortunately, haul videos play into returns culture. Influencers often buy products with the sole purpose of featuring it in their videos, with no intention of keeping them. Some presenters even flaunt that they have bought more than they intend to keep because they didn’t know what to choose. 

Not only is there impact on your bottom line for the returns, but there is also the cost of transporting and processing those orders. It may also have a knock-on effect, encouraging their fans to do the same, without considering the impact of their actions. 

The Ugly 

There’s an environmental fallout from all those orders and returns too. 

The amount of plastic and packaging used to send items in the post is huge. And this might not be disposed of properly, all for the sake of making a video. 

And then there’s the impact of the transportation associated with the orders too. Items need to be ferried all over the country and back, for these videos, resulting in exhaust fumes and pollution. 

So how can you protect your business? 

“There are a couple of quick wins on this front,” James Davey continues. “However, there’s no way to completely eradicate it.” 

Make sure your product descriptions are clear and accurate. If your products are available in multiple sizes, be sure to include an accurate measurement guide. This will help avoid multiple purchases of the same item in different sizes. 

Education is also important. Include text on your website and within the order about the impact of returns on both your business and the environment, to encourage more responsible shopping behaviours. 

Over to you

What do you think is the future of impact upon the retail and ecommerce industries? Tell us your thoughts on Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin.

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