Written by Alex Macura –

Retailers, brands, and digital platforms from around the world are leveraging the tremendous value that livestream shopping brings.

Who would’ve thought the intoxicating combination of social media, live entertainment, and instant purchasing would so significantly disrupt ecommerce?

While you may have heard rumblings of the marketing benefits of livestreaming commerce, this is nothing new for our counterparts in China.

They are leaning hard into the massive trend that is livestream shopping.

A 2021 survey cites that two-thirds of Chinese shoppers have purchased products via livestream in the past year.

That’s a considerable number.

Even though Western retailers are still lagging behind China in the pursuit of live commerce, early movers have begun to garner significant sales.

Here’s why: Our target audience wants it.

A recent global survey of 13,000 consumers and 4,000 businesses across 29 countries shows that 61% of customers prefer to shop via social media. This jumps to 63% when responses are filtered by Gen Zers.

So, What’s The Problem?

As a marketer in the B2C space, you know that retail has its limits.

Even ecommerce – the darling of the Covid-19 era due to many brick-and-mortar store closures and businesses moving online – now needs reimagining.

Campaigns you were certain would bring a high ROI (return on investment) are falling flat.

CPC (cost per click) might be consistent, but engagement and conversion rates are lower than ever.

We are seeing a trend in lower engagement rates via traditional ecommerce checkouts and an increase in abandoned carts.

While this is often because the ecommerce website owner has not done the due diligence required to stay relevant, in the end, it is likely due to a bad, or even worse – indifferent – user experience.

Add to that the reality that consumers are less brand loyal and more price sensitive than ever, and you find yourself, as a marketer, in a tricky position.

As our customers’ demands for “I want it now” increase, marketers must find a way through.

The proven secret to success is connecting your brand personally to your customers (or vice versa; your customers must feel that they connect with you).

This is important not only from a “successful campaign” perspective but also from a business longevity approach.

When comparing the current financial crisis with that of 2008, we see that organizations that championed customer experience saw very little downturn at that time.

They also rebounded faster and brought in three times more shareholder returns than the market average.

So, what is the solution?

While livestream shopping might not be the silver bullet marketers want, it is a turbocharger for revitalizing online revenue.

Here’s why.

When marketers combine ecommerce with livestream shopping, it suddenly makes online stores personal, entertaining, and relevant.

What Is Livestream Shopping?

Before I get ahead of myself, let me start with the basics.

Streaming shopping offers consumers an engaging experience that allows them to buy from home confidently by combining commerce with live video entertainment, often on social media.

Livestream viewers can interact with the host and buy products right then and there.

This might sound familiar to you if you grew up with old-school TV shopping shows.

Similar to online video shopping, the TV show host would talk about the product and its benefits and often demonstrate how to use it – all the while punting the “call now” number to buy.

It made it easy for home viewers to buy from their couches while watching TV.

It is not uncommon for live shopping videos to include new product launches, how-to’s, interviews, games, quizzes, or giveaways.

However, online video shopping must not be confused with the informercials of old.

This is real-time, hyper-engaging, fast, and super-relevant to the audience.

As For Popular Livestream Shopping Platforms, Here Are A Few

The biggest and easiest by far are the social media platforms.

Although shopping-specific platforms may assist you in reaching new consumers, you retain the most control via your website.

How Livestream Shopping Works

The basic concept that sees marketers incorporate livestream shopping remains the same.

Like live TV shows, livestream commerce exists on social media, where buyers watch as the influencer or host discusses, demonstrates, and reviews products in real-time.

Connection-Driven

The main draw card of live streaming commerce is how entertaining the host is.

Equally important is the connection the audience feels with the host.

All of this speaks to audience engagement.

You want to involve influencers who already strongly connect with your audience.

This not only improves trust metrics and credibility but is also typically what attracts people to watch in the first place.

Engagement-Rich

Many livestreams include chat functionality and reaction buttons to involve their audiences, which makes them more successful.

Getting the audience to participate in polls and comment on the stream is an effective strategy that successful consumer companies use to ramp up engagement and improve the event’s success.

Commercially Viable

When done well, online marketers can boost sales tremendously with livestreaming shopping.

Huang Wei, also known as Viya, is China’s biggest livestreaming star.

With astonishingly high audience numbers – sometimes as high as 37 million – she uses her channel to sell a huge variety of products.

We’re talking cars, makeup, houses, furniture, toothbrushes – even a rocket launcher for $5.6 million!

Some of the biggest brands in the U.S. have already sat up and taken note.

Tesla, P&G, and Kim Kardashian have already appeared on Viya’s show and sold products.

Kim Kardashian launched her new perfume to Chinese internet users on Viya’s livestream in 2019. She drew 13 million viewers and sold 15,000 bottles in a matter of minutes.

Does Your Target Audience Want Livestream Shopping?

Gen Z And Millennials

If you market an online brand or ecommerce store, and your customer demographics are Generation Z and Millennials, then livestream shopping is not an option – it is a given.

These demographics are the largest contributors to live shopping events.

However, this doesn’t mean you should exclude other audiences.

Surprisingly, this concept is familiar to generations accustomed to the home shopping network channels they grew up with.

Now is a great time to share the benefits and convenience of live shopping with them.

Generation X

Gen X embraces social media just as much as Millennials, indicating that usage will increase over the next few years.

In fact, a recent survey shows that 74% of Gen Xers consider social media – in particular, Facebook – to be an essential part of their life.

This puts them on the same playing field as Millennials and Gen Zers.

Baby Boomers

For Baby Boomers, only 40% consider social media an essential part of their lives, with the vast majority only using it to connect with family and friends.

However, they are not to be overlooked.

As many as 53% say they use social media, especially Facebook, to kill time, much like the other generations.

Plus, in the U.S., senior citizens are the fastest-growing demographic of Facebook users.

This could indicate their growing familiarity and comfort levels with online engagement.

The bottom line is that, as marketers, we need to use the platform our audience uses.

Regarding the industries benefiting from livestream shopping, McKinsey states that fashion has put its best foot forward and currently leads the way.

However, ecommerce brands that sell everything from cars to fresh foods are gaining traction.

How Marketers Can Use Live Commerce To Create Value

When you consider the current and future growth of live shopping, you quickly see how much potential there is to improve brand awareness, sales, and revenue.

Even greater benefits exist for marketers who embrace live commerce, including greater online efficacy and engagement, all at a much more affordable price tag.

Here are more benefits to marketing through live shopping events.

I have found that live commerce can help marketers reach their objectives in these ways.

Quicker Conversions

Live shopping is hugely entertaining and engaging.

As a result, viewers watch longer.

This helps accelerate the customer decision-making journey from awareness to conversion.

Seeing other like-minded viewers purchase the product in real-time can drive down objections and uncertainty.

Additionally, scarcity tactics like limited offers and coupons help create a sense of urgency in the viewer.

This massively increases conversion rates – with some reporting increases of up to 30%.

This is ten times more than traditional ecommerce metrics.

Greater Brand Appeal And Differentiation

Live commerce can increase a brand’s appeal and distinguishability when executed properly.

It can also push additional traffic to its website.

Better Discoverability And Website Traffic

Live selling is one of the easiest and fastest ways to increase website traffic and discoverability.

Whether you host the live stream event on your website or direct viewers to the site from a livestreaming platform, you ultimately increase your website traffic and the chances of completing a sale.

Your discoverability also determines visitors to your website; if they do not know you exist, they will not visit and buy.

You greatly increase your discoverability by opening up your content to potential buyers on those social platforms through livestreaming.

Heightened engagement through personalized marketing.

Making a sale isn’t the only reason to stream ecommerce; it’s also an opportunity to connect with your customers.

Considering that most marketers struggle to make big brands more approachable and engaging, this is a lifesaver.

Livestreams immediately inject the human touch into your product and offerings.

Suddenly there are trusted names, beloved personalities, and community input that endorses the product on the streaming event.

This brings welcome relief and credibility to your ongoing customer service or sales reps’ activities.

Top Tips For Hosting A Livestream Shopping Session

As a marketer, it is important to understand the fundamentals of livestreaming shopping before launching a campaign.

There are no shortcuts; you must map out a clear strategy before deploying tactics.

Identifying who your audience is, their demographics, points of pain, preferred platforms, and customer journey are all part and parcel of effective campaigns.

Your marketing strategy will also need to answer the following questions.

  • Will we do this in-house, or do we bring in livestreaming marketing experts?
  • What livestream platform are we using? Are we hosting the event on our website like Nordstrom? Or are we hosting our social media platform? Which one is our favorite?
  • Are we investing in the gear and technology ourselves, or are we using a SaaS solution?
  • Are we including an influencer, or are we going to bank on our own brand’s pulling power?
  • Is this a once-off test, or are we doing this regularly?
  • What product are we promoting?
  • What content are we producing?
  • Are we recording this for playback later? (The answer should be yes, as this is a powerful marketing tool.)

I know. These are hefty questions.

But if you attempt to go into this unprepared, you could do your brand more damage than good – and on a live stage.

If you want to test the waters, I recommend you partner with marketers who have done this before and use streaming platforms focused on this form of commerce.

That way, the time, money, and resource investment is relatively low in proportion to the risk exposure.

Once you have done this, you get to work marketing the event.

This is standard “Event Marketing 101,” and you do your due diligence: Google Ads, social paid media, free newsletter subscription, influencer marketing, you name it.

Conclusion

While livestream shopping is still relatively in its infancy in the retail industry, all metrics point in the same direction: Up!

For marketers who work for ecommerce brands who want the benefits of hosting a live selling feature or livestream event, this channel and tactic are the way to go.

Benefits are clear, measurable, and repeatable when done well.

For those new to live commerce, experimenting with an event might be the way to go.

In this case, it is well-advised to rope in external resources with experience in this area to minimize risk and maximize your return.

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Featured Image: aslysun/Shutterstock





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