Some Assembly Required? San Diego’s ShowUhow Uses Web-Based Video to Displace Printed Instruction Guide

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an item’s related ShowUhow video by using the smartphone camera to scan the product’s UPC bar code.

Some manufacturers perceive that assembling their products after purchase is not that hard to do. But Folsom says, “Complex products require ‘work’ for proper set-up and use, and when frustrated consumers seek support, it costs between $10 and $30 per request.”

“A poor out-of-box experience is expensive,” Folsom says. She estimates that problems with assembly or setup account for 30 percent of returns, and ShowUhow’s goal is to close these miscommunication gaps between the consumer, retailer, and manufacturer. The company provides its Web-based services to manufacturers, such as Panasonic and Swann, but as Folsom puts it, “ours is a B2B2C business”—meaning they interact with the businesses that sell to retailers, and those retailers are selling to consumers.

Manufacturers often help retailing partners answer consumer questions about product assembly by operating call centers to handle queries. Manufacturers also typically bear much of the cost of product returns. Folsom says the value of ShowUhow’s service lies in helping manufacturers and retailers lower those costs because its Web-based “how to” videos provide better and clearer instructions, which means happier customers. So  retailers and manufacturers deal with fewer frustrated customers. It helps explain how the startup has managed to establish partnerships with 30 retailers, including such major brands as Home Depot, Target, Best Buy, Costco, Walmart, Amazon and Toys ‘R’ Us.

The company has developed an online technology platform to host manufacturers’ “how to” and “do-it-yourself” videos. ShowUhow charges … Next Page »

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Bruce V. Bigelow is the editor of Xconomy San Diego. You can e-mail him at or call (619) 669-8788 Follow @bvbigelow

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  • Jason

    Interesting that Folsom says that the video wasn’t the best 10 years ago. She was the biggest whiner about the quality when Seminar Source was a client (and a non-paying one at that) of Intervu/Akamai.