10min read - iAdvize
Recent years have shaken up the retail industry and accelerated digital commerce. In 2019, digital shopping increased 44% over the prior year but only accounted for 16% of retail sales. By 2020, four in five consumers worldwide purchased goods online -- and digital shopping had become "second nature," according to Statista.
Now, the next phase of digital retail is here: Live shopping.
What's live shopping? Simply put, it's an opportunity to watch and shop during a live online event. It's similar in concept to the infomercials and HSN (Home Shopping Network) that engaged TV viewers for decades—but retooled for the social media era.
Live shopping already has a strong foothold, racking up $60 billion in global sales in 2019 ($1 billion in the US). Industry watchers say that live shopping in the US will reach $11 billion in 2021 and climb to $25 billion in 2023.
If these projections ring true, the US live shopping market will more than double in two years. This means that the live shopping wave is right here, right now. Retailers need to act swiftly, or they'll risk falling behind.
Are you ready to dive into live shopping? Get to know trends, successes, and driving forces behind this next phase in retail. Then learn how you can capitalize on live shopping during the busy end-of-year holiday buying season.
Live shopping isn't new. In the 1980s, direct response television channels launched around the world, with QVC (Quality Value Convenience) being a notable US example.
These channels featured recurring hosts and celebrity guests who pitched products directly to consumers. While watching at home, buyers could call in to purchase items for themselves or their families. Consumers embraced the convenience of live shopping and never looked back.
TV-based live shopping is still around but quickly becoming eclipsed by a new breed of digital commerce. Now, brands can turn to apps, websites, and social media to deliver live shopping experiences on any device.
Live shopping allows people to watch a livestream on social media and purchase products directly from the stream. It creates an immersive, interactive experience that enables shoppers to ask questions with stream hosts. Plus, shoppers can ask to see different angles or products or get insight on feel, fit, or other buying factors.
Often, streams will feature comments that flash across the screen to engage viewers and potentially spark conversation with the viewing community. Streams may also feature countdowns that encourage people to buy products or score discounts within specific time windows.
Thanks to features like these, livestream shopping is an exciting and energizing event that creates memorable experiences for viewers. Popular items can sell out in seconds, making live shopping a highly lucrative venture for brands.
To date, Asia has been the leading adopter of live shopping, with social commerce making up over 11.6% of all digital sales in China in 2020. That year, live shopping reached nearly a quarter of a trillion dollars in China, and it's on pace to grow to $475 billion by 2023. Livestream shops feature everything from clothes and jewelry to electronics and home goods—even apartments.
According to a Forbes article, 80% of live-stream shopping occurs on the country's online livestream shopping platform, Taobao Live, owned by Alibaba. The company's Taobao mall (or Tmall for short) is a premier destination for luxury shopping in China. Through Tmall, brands can create exclusive stores and attend major digital events, such as "Singles Day," the world's largest shopping day.
Just how big is Singles Day? The 2020 event drove $6 billion in sales, all through livestream shopping.
Nearly 300 brands took part in Singles Day 2019, with 40% launching new products. Among them was the iconic British luxury fashion house Burberry, which used livestreaming to introduce a new scarf embroidery service. Shopping volumes were so high that popular scar patterns sold out in less than three hours.
Successful livestream in China shops feature charismatic influencers—or key opinion leaders (KOL)—as hosts. One example of an influencer who leveraged livestreaming is Kim Kardashian West, whose Tmall shopping event sold 150,000 bottles of perfume in minutes.
However, a big following isn't always essential for big returns, as many shoppers prefer authenticity to celebrity. One independent jewelry retailer, UU Pearl, hosts events to showcase opening clams on camera, resulting in 1,000 pearl sales per day. What's more, micro-influencers who have personal relationships with their followers can generate high engagement and significant sales.
Naturally, the amazing success of livestream shopping in Asia gained the attention of retailers worldwide. Although still in its infancy in the US, livestream shopping is poised for rapid acceleration.
Some brands have already trialed livestreaming and enjoyed an enthusiastic response from fans and industry-watchers alike. For example, Bon Appetit magazine created “The BA Test Kitchen Variety Show” to showcase live cooking demonstrations and drive product sales. Another innovator is Estee Lauder, which hosted 1 million virtual skincare try-on sessions with consumers around the globe during the first quarter of 2021.
Tommy Hilfiger hosted its first live digital shopping event in Europe and the United States in May 2020. With an eye towards the younger generation of digitally savvy shoppers, the brand stated that it wanted to build on its tradition of "creating experiences that surprise and excite" consumers.
Model Manuela Frey and actress Zoë Pastelle hosted the event, which showcased three of the brand's popular product lines. During the event, the hosts and guests presented fashionable looks, and viewers asked questions, participated in fun trivia games, and voted on their favorite items. Also, viewers had access to a personal virtual shopping bag where they could add items during the stream and purchase at its conclusion.
Building on the success of its first shoppable livestream, Tommy Hilfiger hosted a follow-up event in fall 2020. The brand Tommy Hilfiger announced that their foray into shoppable livestreaming aligns with their goal to provide fashion "that wastes nothing and welcomes all." Hosted by popular YouTuber and model Elias Riadi and journalist Sydney Lima, the event featured appearances by top brand ambassadors.
Although the brand's leadership doesn't think traditional fashion shows are going away any time too soon, they acknowledge that shoppable livestreams are an important evolutionary step in the industry. Live shopping will likely continue to be part of the brand's digital marketing strategy.
Chief marketing officer Michael Schneider explained, "we are continuously experimenting with new digital approaches that allow us to show up in new ways, times, and locations. The forms that ‘see-now-buy-now’ can take are infinite — our live-stream shopping event is just one of these, and we see endless opportunities for the near and long term.”
Walmart is another top brand that has jumped into live shopping. Late 2020 saw the mega-retailer partnering with TikTok to pioneer a livestream shopping experience on the short-form video platform. That event proved to be wildly popular. It grew Walmart's TikTok subscribers by 25% and yielded 7x more views than anticipated.
After its initial success, Walmart hosted a second event -- the "Spring Shop-Along: Beauty Edition" -- in March 2021. That digital experience showcased TikTok content creators, including Gabby Morr (@GabbyMorr), who has 3.5 million followers on the platform. Throughout the event, creators highlighted their favorite Walmart beauty products and demonstrated their daily skin and hair care regimens.
Of course, the brand made it easy for shoppers to buy during the event. Viewers could take on products, add them to virtual carts, and check out during or after the stream.
Fashion brand Ann Klein collaborated with Facebook to boost sales in 2020 with its four-part "Celebrate the Holidays" shoppable livestream series. To get a jump on the holiday buying season, the series kicked off in mid-November, with shoppable streams on Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and a wrap-up on December 15.
Hosted by founder Ann Klein's granddaughter, Jesse Gre Rubinstein, the livestream series continued the brand's "Women Who Do" marketing theme, according to a press release. Each event featured conversations with women making a difference, including a frontline nurse, a "super mom" and her four foster children, and an entrepreneur.
For Ann Klein, the series was an opportunity to build on the momentum of livestreaming and to provide view entertainment and new shopping options. Each event included time-limited promotions on Ann Klein fashion products that were available exclusively during the stream.
As these premier brands' experiences show, livestream can generate buzz, attract followers, build loyalty, and drive sales. At the start of 2021, just one in three retailers said they had plans to launch livestream shopping, according to a survey from Square. That means brands that move early have a high potential to capture shopper interest and mindshare.
The festive holiday season can be the perfect time to create live shopping events that generate high engagement. Here are some things to know to add live shopping to your holiday lineup.
After a better-than-anticipated 2020, retailers can look forward to strong sales growth in 2021. eMarketer predicts that holiday sales will top $206 billion, with digital commerce accounting for nearly 20% of that total.
Other consumer research affirms that shoppers are sticking with the digital shopping habits they adopted in 2020. As of July 2021, global eCommerce sales remained 24% higher than 2019 levels:
In the US, Black Friday has long been the traditional start of the holiday shopping season. That trend shifted in 2020, as many consumers spent more time at home and engaged through connected devices. Plus, Amazon scheduling its Prime Day in mid-October pushed many consumers to shop earlier than usual.
Even if the buying frenzy starts on Black Friday, research reveals that shoppers start deciding what products to buy weeks ahead. For that reason, shoppable livestreams with an educational focus can be an excellent strategy to meet shoppers' need to research and consider product options before adding them to their holiday wishlists.
The holiday season is full of sensory delights--like twinkling lights, nostalgic music, sweet treats, and colorful decor. For in-store shoppers, visiting retail venues offer the opportunity to enjoy the sights and sounds of the season.
Through video, brands can provide more immersive experiences for people watching from home or anywhere. Plus, consumer research has found that 80% of customers prefer to watch videos about brand products to reading about them. And 82% say they'd choose brand video over reading social posts.
Consider these other compelling data points about consumers' video preferences:
Keep in mind livestream shopping is different from video shopping. The former is a shoppable live event, while the latter allows purchasing from a pre-recorded video. Live shopping combines the immersive power of video with the excitement of an exclusive live event and engagement with a like-minded community.
What's the takeaway? Even if you have video shopping in place, you should add live shopping to your digital marketing mix.
Live shopping is new for many US retailers, but you can learn from the forerunners in other parts of the world. Here are answers to some common questions brands have about how to host a successful live shop.
Using a live shop platform for your event gives you complete control over the brand presentation and shopper experience. One of the most significant benefits of using a live shop platform is the opportunity to capture viewer contact information—such as email or phone number—for use in future marketing efforts.
Some brands do live shopping every week, while others host less frequent events. For brands that opt for less frequent live shops, tying the livestream shopping event to a big event is the way to go. Big sales days like Black Friday or Cyber Monday are ideal for a live shop. You can also host live shops during other big seasonal sales or as part of a major product launch.
The best time for a live shop depends on the market, product category, and target audiences. Keep in mind that Friday evenings tend to be the worst time of the week for live shops as people are often busy with other personal or family activities.
When using a proven live shopping platform, brands can set up a live shop event in around 17 days. Setup tasks include:
The most successful live shop events are usually relatively short -- around 30 to 40 minutes. The reason? Viewership is highest at the start of the shop because many consumers know they need to act quickly to purchase popular items. After about 20 minutes, viewership starts to decline.
You need a charismatic host that fosters interaction with the audience. Ask your host to ask the audience lots of questions to promote dialog and foster community. For example, the host of a fashion shopping event can ask about favorite styles, preferred colors, etc. It's all about interaction.
An advanced live shopping platform uses natural language programming (NLP) to filter out any offensive comments automatically. In addition, events can have a moderator that receives shopper comments and controls when they are displayed to hosts and viewers. Moderators can also remove comments and block users if needed.
Yes, brands do own the copyright of the video after the live shopping event. It's essential to negotiate rights with the host and influencers to ensure there's no confusion about how the video will be used after the event. Many brands successfully leverage content from their live shop events in ongoing video marketing campaigns.
Live shopping is the hottest trend in retail and growing at an unprecedented rate. In fact, the Interactive Advertising Bureau recently reported that livestream-generated sales are expected to double to $120 billion worldwide in 2021.
The takeaway is clear: Brands can either act now and be part of the livestream shopping wave or risk getting left behind.
The holiday season has built-in big shopping events, which are the perfect time to host a livestream shop. By relying on a trusted live shop platform, you can benefit from proven technology and expert guidance that drives brand recognition, sales, and consumer loyalty.
Yes, you can add live shopping to your holiday marketing lineup! The iAdvize Aploze live shopping platform provides you the infrastructure you need, and our experts coach you every step of the way.
Ring in the festive season with a special discount on a three-pack of live shop events. Pay just $30,000 for shops on Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and another date you choose in December 2021. Contact us to take advantage of this exclusive opportunity!
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