Let’s be honest; it’s not easy owning and growing an eCommerce store in today’s day and age. Setting up a flashy website and app is less than half the work. In order to reach your desired target audience, you need to have a solid presence across all digital channels that they spend their time on. Moreover, they expect and demand to be constantly engaged, else you end up losing their top of mind awareness.
As the scope of engagement widens, eCommerce marketers are constantly coming up with newer and revolutionary strategies to integrate the shopping experience into their marketing activities. And one of the most popular trends in the eCommerce marketing space today is live stream shopping or live commerce.
What is live stream shopping?
Live stream shopping or live video shopping is the modern day equivalent of teleshopping, wherein social media live streaming is combined with online shopping. eCommerce brands these days use live streaming on various social platforms to showcase and directly sell products to viewers in real time. Viewers can view, assess, and order products directly from the stream, without having to visit the brand’s app or site.
Live video shopping allows eCommerce marketers to deliver an extremely engaging and interactive shopping experience via their social handles. Not only do viewers save time on shopping, but this entire process also creates a sense of urgency and exclusivity since buyers only have a particular time window to purchase the items being shown in the stream.
A countdown timer keeps flashing that repeatedly reminds them of the time left to place their order. More often than not, there are hosts presenting products and listing their features and viewers can ask them questions before finalizing their purchase.
This new age online shopping technique is slowly gaining popularity in attracting spontaneous and impulsive shoppers, who are thoroughly active on social platforms. It enables businesses to create a highly intuitive shopping experience for their customers on platforms that they spend most of their time on.
Here’s an example of the same:
With an estimated worth of $171 billion as of 2020, China is leading the live commerce wave. As per a report by Mckinsey Digital, the live commerce market in China has grown as much as 280% between 2017 and 2020.
The most popular category when it comes to live commerce is apparel and fashion, with 36% market share, while beauty products and food come up next with 7% market share each. Consumer electronics and furnishing and home decor take the fourth and fifth position with 5% and 4% market share respectively.
And that’s not all; slowly and steadily, online retailers all over the world have begun experimenting with live stream shopping only to uncover its various advantages and connect with a wider pool of potential customers and loyalists.
Why live video shopping?
There are endless reasons why you should consider conducting live stream shopping events for your brand. Here are some of the most prominent ones:
Helps improve conversions
It goes without saying that live stream shopping enables an alternate channel for brands to drive conversions for their top selling products by leveraging their social presence and following.
They don’t need to rely on traditional routes of driving traffic to their site or app, convincing visitors through enticing product descriptions and imagery on product pages, and then leading them to the entire checkout process which can be tedious at times. They can simply showcase products on their live streams and collect as many orders, if they do it right.
Shortens purchase journeys
A typical eCommerce purchase journey more often than not follows this path - brand discovery, product discovery, product evaluation, and then finally purchase. This entire process can be cut down to a single step via live commerce.
Your viewers can discover, evaluate, and purchase products in a single stream and even clarify their doubts. This essentially facilitates short purchase journeys, faster decision making, and more sales.
Creates a sense of urgency
Since live stream shopping is only valid for a certain short time frame, viewers have a limited time window to make their decisions. This is unlike any other shopping experience where buyers have their own sweet time to decide.
Live stream, therefore, instills a sense of urgency in the shoppers who know that it’s now or never to get their hands on the mentioned deal. Also, these streams mostly showcase products that are either on a certain discount or are limited edition, shoppers have all the more reason to place their orders without wasting a moment.
Helps brands widen their target audience pool
If you rely solely on conventional channels to drive conversions, you are never going to be able to expand your audience pool and attract new customers. Novel engagement techniques such as live steam shopping empower you to reach younger audiences that are all about social media.
You can not only introduce your brand to these potential customers but also close sales via your streams itself. Once you turn these potential customers into customers, they are going to visit your online store even after this purchase and might turn into loyalists.
Improves brand distinctiveness
One of the biggest concerns you might have as an eCommerce marketer is standing out among your competitors. Adopting unconventional marketing and engagement strategies is the best way to get there. Live video streams will help your brand establish distinctiveness among your audiences and make a mark for your brand.
Your younger audience will start recognizing you as a brand that has interesting ways to engage with them and will value your efforts. This goes far beyond just gaining one time buyers; you will be able to build long term relationships with your customers.
Combines content and commerce
Live video shopping has successfully put the age old debate of content vs commerce to an end and established that content can, in fact, drive sales. You needn’t necessarily leverage content only for engagement or brand awareness, it can very well drive conversions for your business.
Live stream shopping is proof that content and commerce can evolve to go hand in hand and together uplift key business metrics.
How does live shopping work?
Live shopping typically has two formats - personal and one to many. Let’s look at both of them in detail.
Personal live stream shopping
Personal or one to one live video shopping comprises an interactive shopping experience that involves a single sales representative and one customer. In this format, customers are allowed to book a real time meeting or consultation with a sales or customer specialist so they can clarify their doubts, and receive personalized support while making a purchase on an online store.
Sales representatives can help with product recommendations, comparisons, or answer any other doubt customers might have that aids their decision making process and nudges them to complete the checkout process.
Personal live stream shopping allows for a highly customized and tailored buying experience that imitates that of a physical store. Customers can get dedicated help and expertise to help simplify the shopping process, something they don’t get access to when buying online otherwise.
One to many live stream shopping
More popular of the two, the one to many format involves brands leveraging live video streaming on social media platforms so they can reach, engage, and sell to as many users as possible in one go.
While the one to one format is used on eCommerce sites or apps, one to many works on social platforms where hosts or influencers can be partnered with to present live streams to thousands of followers who can join, chat, assess products, and finally place their orders in real time. Such streams can also be simultaneously live cast on multiple channels such as Facebook, Instagram, and Youtube.
Such streams help in showcasing products to the brand’s entire audience pool at once, thus ensuring a high return on investment and promising results. One to many streams have become popular among global brands as they have been deploying them heavily to launch products, sell their best selling items, and also inform their customers about their dedicated product ranges.
Which category of brands should leverage live stream shopping?
While live video shopping is valuable for every kind of eCommerce brand, there are certain industries and sectors where it has statistically proven to move engagement and sales metrics. Let’s take a look at a few of them.
Fashion and apparel
When it comes to fashion and apparel, live stream shopping works remarkably well in enabling brands to showcase their products in real time. Viewers can take a good look at clothes from every possible angle and make an informed decision, as opposed to only being able to view their images on an online store.
Post the success that China witnessed in live stream shopping, many Western and European online retailers began testing their luck with it. In one of the live shopping shows conducted by Tommy Hilfiger, the brand was able to attract 14 million audience members and sell 1300 million in under 2 minutes. Similarly, Walmart conducted a pilot live stream fashion event on TikTok in December 2020 and was able to increase its followers on the platform by 25%.
Such promising numbers are indicative of the fact that if done right, live stream shopping can work wonders in increasing followers, engagement, and overall sales for fashion eCommerce brands.
Beauty and personal care
Beauty and personal care is another category that could really benefit from live streams. This is because consumers are fairly skeptical of purchasing skin care products online without getting to try or experience them, and often end up abandoning their carts. Through live streams, eCommerce retailers can showcase products in use on models, influencers, or even real people for potential customers to evaluate and then buy.
Moreover, the comment section allows audience members to convey their apprehensions and questions to beauty experts and get the much needed assurance. Live stream shopping, thus makes for a really immersive and intuitive online beauty shopping experience.
Ulta Beauty, the American chain of beauty stores, experimented with live stream shopping by enabling its followers to try on their beauty products before buying by leveraging AR and VR technologies.
Food and health products
If you own a food or health care online store, live stream shopping can enable you to connect with your followers and educate them on the benefits and nutritional value of your products.
You can even include provision for one to one appointment scheduling wherein your audience can get advice from nutritional consultants or many to one streams wherein health experts or influencers talk about a certain category or range of food products while allowing viewers to place their orders.
This trend has especially gained momentum during the pandemic when consecutive lockdowns forced people to stay at home and grow increasingly careful of their health and food choices. More and more consumers depended on live streams to get introduced to new health products and order them from the comfort of their homes. And this trend is only going to grow exponentially in the coming future.
Riding the live stream shopping wave!
Live commerce has already taken the world by storm and global brands have proved time and again that the strategy works brilliantly. You too can leverage it to reach wider audiences, engage them better, and improve your sales.
Moreover, in the digital age that is dominated by social media, staying ahead of the curve involves improving your presence on these platforms, and live stream shopping allows you to do exactly that. To get started, you should start small and test out a couple of short streams with your best selling products and then go big.
You can even partner with influencers and micro influencers to host your live streams and engage with your audience. Since they already have a huge following, reach, and influence, you can use their voice to expand your audience pool and sell more.