Livestream shopping has grown in popularity in recent months, and it’s likely to become even more prevalent in the future. The technology and its business model deliver an interactive experience for brands, influencers, or celebrities to promote and sell products; and for consumers to participate by asking questions and shopping during the event.
The E-Commerce Times talked with several experts in the field to see what’s driving this trend — and to get their take on why livestream shopping events have become all the rage.
“Livestream shopping events have become a popular way for customers to make purchases while properly abiding by health guidelines like social distancing, and [they] give stores an avenue to create something as similar to the in-person experience as possible,” Margo Kahnrose, chief marketing officer for Kenshoo, told the E-Commerce Times.
Kahnrose added that livestream shopping “provides a modern way for brands to build further awareness, move excess inventory, and give customers a sense of the more sensory experience they are used to getting in-store.”
Streaming is not limited to shopping, and livestream shopping grows out of a broad cultural shift toward this method of communication — as well as the trends and habits acquired during the pandemic.
“The first thing is that we are streaming everything these days: Netflix, our news, exciting videos, and even our workouts,” Melanie Nelson, director of channel management for BrandJump, told the E-Commerce Times.
“The second thing is that we’ve seen dramatic shifts to buying online due to the pandemic and believe that many of these consumer habits will stay around post-pandemic. These two things coupled together set the stage for livestream shopping to take off,” she added.
Ultimately, selling products via a livestream event can be as much about building a sense of community among customers and brands as it is about the process of selling itself.
“I wanted to create a shopping community that is fun, engaging, personalized, and brings back the nostalgic ‘window shopping’ feeling in the digital form, where shoppers can interact in a live community at the comfort of their homes,” Toby Zhang, founder and CEO of Shop LIT Live, explained to the E-Commerce Times.
“Livestream shopping is the perfect solution for this, [and] thus we are seeing livestream shopping starting to take off in the U.S.”
Ultimately, livestream shopping offers a variety of benefits for both businesses and consumers.
“For businesses, livestream shopping is an ideal stage for them to share their stories with the audience in a much more personalized way,” said Zhang. “At the same time, it is also a channel for them to get to know more about their customers.
“For shoppers, livestream shopping is an informative form of learning about brands and products in a highly interactive, engaging way. As a shopper, one can see product demos in real time, and get all of his or her questions answered in real time, which will help shoppers make better purchasing decisions.”
Successful Livestream Commerce
Companies that want to be successful in their livestreams need to make sure that these events mesh with their brand’s identity and spirit.
“Today’s consumer is savvy, has a lot of choices, and wants to see themselves reflected in the brands they buy,” explained Kahnrose. “It’s critical that any livestream host be a good fit for the brand, aspirational for the target customer, and reflective of brand identity and values.”
It’s vital, as well, that companies integrate their livestreaming into a larger digital and e-commerce strategy.
“It’s also really important that livestream shopping events are part of a broader strategy around digital commerce, and connected to other shopping channels,” added Kahnrose.
“You need ways to measure engagement as well as sales impact and to re-engage viewers after the event. Incrementality testing and retargeting on search engines and retail media are great tools for that. For example, Kenshoo has an attribution solution that can illuminate the link between Facebook and Instagram advertising and sales on Amazon.”
As with all selling and marketing, livestreaming businesses must connect with customers and create a sense of excitement, and they also need to find livestreaming times and formats that work for their intended audiences.
“You want a host that is engaging and can connect with your audience,” explained BrandJump’s Nelson. “Working with influencers with a following, who may need your product, are a great avenue to explore if you are trying to build your own brand following.
“The host or shopper must also generate excitement around their event, giving consumers a reason to tune in. This type of event is best for launching new products or offering a tutorial on how to use your products. Lastly, you will want to know the audience you are trying to reach and choose the best day and time to engage with them.”
Evolution of Livestreaming
Increasingly, livestream shopping has been happening via social media apps; this trend is poised to continue to grow and develop.
“Livestream shopping has only been available to apps like Instagram and Facebook in the last several months, and thousands of brands have already taken advantage of this method,” said Kenshoo’s Kahnrose.
“However, it is quickly becoming a new normal, and consumers are learning that e-commerce doesn’t have to be devoid of connection the way traditional online shopping can be. Livestream shopping is a space that is growing quickly and, like many consumer-facing technologies, this will continue to remain a popular way for brands and consumers to connect and engage,” she observed.
With livestream selling and shopping becoming more common, the technologies are also likely to improve and become even more user friendly.
“As more social platforms adopt livestream shopping methods, and as more consumers engage, we will see technology improve and evolve,” said Nelson. “The future looks incredibly positive for livestream shopping, as it gives consumers that joy of discovery, entertainment, and learning about new products from their favorite brands or influencers.
“Plus, with the convenience of online, they can engage and be part of the experience anywhere they are — whether that is at home, at work or traveling.”
Because livestreaming has become such a central part of selling and buying, it’s likely to continue to evolve and thrive.
“We are seeing brands, creators, and consumers welcoming this new format of shopping,” said Zhang from Shop LIT Live. “We expect to see more and more bigger and smaller brands alike use live shopping as a dominant channel for their sales.
“From the consumer side, we expect that once they become familiar and comfortable with this new format, they will have a hard time going back to the past ways of buying things online.”