Live shopping

by Amba Wilkes

Live shopping marks the start of a new chapter in eCommerce. How exactly this channel will develop remains to be seen. But as keen eCommerce specialists, we wanted to explore the topic further.

Live shopping marks the start of a new chapter in eCommerce. Combining technology with social media and the former days of at-home shopping, this is a powerful channel for brands. Linking an online livestream with your eCommerce store, live shopping allows viewers to watch and shop at the same time. 

How exactly this channel will develop remains to be seen. But as keen eCommerce specialists, we wanted to explore the topic further.

what we’ll cover. 

  1. how live shopping has made a modern-day comeback.
  2. reasons to consider live shopping.
  3. seven tips to help you get started with live shopping. 

live shopping today.

In the late 70s and early to mid-80s, live shopping networks like QVC and Home Shopping Channel made their first appearance on TVs around the world. These free-to-air channels often sold home goods, fashion and beauty products. 

It’s not uncommon for past trends to make a comeback and live shopping is no different. Fast forward a few decades and a modern twist to this way to shop has emerged. 

Today, live shopping - or livestream shopping - has digitized the home shopping experience through apps, websites and social media channels. Brought into the modern age, businesses can now promote, sell and provide real-time communication, reviews and recommendations on products all in one place. 

But could it be for you?

Dan Conboy, Managing Director at Statement, shared his thoughts: “Any innovation always needs to be carefully considered as to how it can be incorporated into a brand. But with the right approach, live shopping has the potential to add value in terms of brand awareness, customer service and, ultimately, growth in orders.”

five reasons to consider live shopping. 

  1. accelerate conversions: Live commerce is an immersive shopping experience that aims to keep viewers engaged for longer and encourage them to buy. In some cases, it can also fast track the full shopping journey from awareness all the way through to purchase in a matter of minutes. Designed to create a connection with your audience, live shopping can greatly reduce cart abandonment rates while increasing the number of returning customers. 
  2. increase competitive edge: As an emerging sales channel, when done well, live shopping can increase your brand’s competitive edge by distinguishing you from competitors. It’s capable of strengthening engagement with your existing customers and attracting new shoppers through different channels.
  3. engage with shoppers: Live shopping gives you chance to engage with your shoppers in a different environment. Tuning into a livestream from a favourite brand is a great way to offer viewers product tutorials such as showing clothing on a live model or answering common questions as well as providing exclusive discounts, product recommendations and reviews. 
  4. influencers: Much like celebrity endorsements in the early days of live shopping, a publicly known figure is a great way to develop trust with viewers. Today, those figures are influencers. If your live shopping stream is hosted or advertised by an online influencer or celebrity your audience already trust, you’re more likely to see increased engagement and conversion rates. Influencers also help to build that all-important social commerce that has become so important in today’s eCommerce world.
  5. build trust: In a society that has experienced rolling restrictions, live shopping is an experience that closely resembles in-person shopping but with the added comfort of your own surroundings. Live shopping removes the barrier between customers and brands that can occur in typical online purchasing. Viewers can watch on as people try on products and share insight in real-time with the forum to comment, ask questions or share their interests. These interactions can help build trust with your audience, helping them feel valued, heard, and part of a bigger experience. 

get started with live shopping.

You’ll need to carefully consider how you approach live shopping to get the most out of this tactic. It’s best to try low-risk options first before evolving your capabilities as you learn what works for you and your audience.

To support you in getting started, we share insight into seven important elements to consider:

1) host

The host can make or break your live shopping experience. Businesses usually use one or two people to host the event, introduce the products and interact with the audience to trigger sales. Questions like the below will help you make the right choice for your brand:

  • who is the ideal person to host your brand publicly?
  • do you have an inspirational founder you could use?
  • could you partner with a presenter or influencer?
  • who is capable of representing your brand in a live forum?

The right host can make a notable difference to the success of your livestream. If you choose to partner with a known influencer who will appeal to your fan base, advertising this before the live shopping stream will encourage your audience to sign up and get involved.

2) timing.

Think about when the best time would be to host your event. Make sure this fits in with the lifestyles of your audience by considering who they are and where they are based.

Look at your data to help you make a more informed decision, analyse the peak shopping times of your users and when they’re on social media engaging with your other content.

3) format.

Live shopping can be centred around many formats. It’s worth trying a few different ones to figure out what works well for your brand and your products as well as what your audience engages best with. Examples include but aren’t limited to:  

  • tutorials: These work well for makeup demonstrations, to show a product in action or inform the viewer how to get the most out of the product. Tutorials are also effective at showing the audience a specific product while also suggesting how it can be combined with other products to open up cross-sell opportunities. 
  • interviews: Interview formats with an influencer or relevant person can feel more personal, authentic and genuine. While they may not suit every brand or product, they can be effective for product launches, building awareness and driving traffic. 
  • behind the scenes: Live shopping experiences that offer an inside story into a product or business can help build trust with your audience. For example, a fashion retailer with a strong sustainability mission may be able to better showcase their supply chain and environmental awareness through a live event. 

4) hook. 

Why will people want to tune into your event? As with all areas of eCommerce, rarely can you simply launch a product or event and expect shoppers to come running. There should be an evident benefit to the viewer for tuning into the livestream such as a VIP or limited time offer or insight into a new product. Call to actions like these help to create urgency, encouraging people to buy now. 

5) platform and apps.

Consider how you are going to host your live shopping stream. Will it be linked to your eCommerce store? Are you running it on a social channel – if so, have you considered which one? Can it be run through your platform or a supporting app? 

Social networks such as Instagram, Facebook and TikTok now offer ways to run live shopping events via their platforms. Through integration with eCommerce platforms such as Shopify Plus, you can directly link to your eCommerce and generate new revenue opportunities.

For example, several apps link to Shopify including Bambuser, HERO and Livescale. It’s always worth reading the reviews, speaking with the platforms themselves or your web agency to find out more as each offers different features – some that may be more useful to your business than others. 

6) rehearse. 

We recommend leaving time to run a test event before the real thing. This could be done with your team or an external group to see how the event runs and ensure everything works as expected such as filming, sound, apps and technology. 

Although you don’t want anything major to go wrong during a live shopping event and it’s important to be prepared, this channel is an authentic one and as such, audiences naturally expect and often favour genuine interaction. 

We would advise testing the waters by focusing your first livestream on no more than five products or one range. Additionally, rely on the technology of just one social media channel or marketplace as not to increase the risk of something going wrong. 

7) follow up.

Don’t let all the effort of putting your live shopping event in place go to waste. Use the data you have collated for those who have registered and/or attended to request feedback and follow up with relevant offers or future event promotions.

It’s also worth tracking livestream performance to gather insights into who tuned in, content, products, formats, hosts and timing so impactful changes can be made for the next event. Speak to your customers, ask them what they liked and disliked, what they want to see next time, review comments on social and, of course, review sales data. 

the future of live shopping.

From what we’ve observed so far, we’re expecting to see live shopping become a prominent sales channel that will continue to develop:

  • micro and nano-influencers: Big-name influencers and celebrities are expensive to hire and might not always make good hosts. Using influencers with a smaller but dedicated following can create better engagement and connection with your audiences at a lower cost. 
  • moving into new sectors: As live commerce increases its reach, more traditional industries such as healthcare, engineering, finance, and maybe even B2B sectors are likely to test the waters.
  • innovative formats: As technology continues to evolve such as augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR), new formats are likely to emerge to make the shopping experience even more immersive. Eventually, shoppers might even be able to have virtual face-to-face conversations with a brand just as if they were in a store.

live shopping and your ecommerce store.

eCommerce shopping is fast and convenient, but the lack of human interaction is often missed. Live shopping provides a needed dose of human connection to a digital buying experience that can sometimes feel robotic. What’s clear is that live shopping holds enormous potential for brands and eCommerce platforms alike. Like many other new customer behaviours and technologies, live shopping is likely to become a crucial part of the buying experience for many brands. 

As an eCommerce agency founded by an eCommerce business, we always keep one finger on the pulse of the digital world and how it’s developing. If live shopping is something you want to know more about or whether it could be a worthwhile tactic for your business, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our team of Shopify Plus specialists. 

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