Real-time virtual shopping events have had their ups and downs – working for some brands but not yet catching on as a mainstream way for consumers to purchase goods. While brands look at livestreaming as a great way to further connect with brands, customers have not yet adapted to this method of shopping in the masses.
At the beginning of 2022, Facebook and Instagram were leading the way for livestream shopping, but then Facebook shut down its live shopping feature in October 2022. Meanwhile, in July 2022 YouTube announced more shopping features and a partnership with Shopify. And shortly afterwards, TikTok announced that the platform would make live shopping available in the United States.
A study by Coresight Research estimates that the livestream market will be worth $35 billion in the U.S. by 2024.
“The brilliance of livestream shopping is the trifecta of the 3 Cs – content, commerce and community. The format allows the brand to inform its consumers while it entertains,” says Elizabeth Kressel, Founder & CEO of Lizard Strategy, an e-commerce and live shopping agency.
While the adoption of livestream shopping has been slower in the west, it’s much more ingrained in China. “Friends gather to shop together on their devices. It is completely commerce-focused and much more aggressive in its sales push. This is quite different from the United States where our introduction to live shopping started with QVC. In short, American audiences need more explanation and more context,” she adds.
Let’s look at the key steps Kressel says can make live-streaming events successful and how brands can get on board.
Create An Engaging Experience
“Livestream shopping programs that are more editorial in nature produce the best results. Not from a fashion perspective, but from a publishing one.” Kressel says audiences tune in because of a product or service’s ability to solve a problem.
“Big names have stepped into the arena to do just that – Clinque has regular tutorial programming on how to keep your glow on or how to weather winter skin, Target has a fantastic mini-series where Joy Green covers everything from decorating your home for the holidays to hosting a party. The content is engaging, solves a problem, and allows customers to ask burning questions in real-time, all while encouraging organic purchase. Many companies are seeing 10X over their traditional website conversion rates. Another avenue companies have taken is the entertainment angle. Bloomingdale’s celebrated its 150th Anniversary and kicked off Fashion Week by premiering its shoppable anniversary collection with high-profile guests. Petco hosted a Halloween event that focused on tips, treats, and costumes and all of the adorable pet models were up for adoption. These concepts focus more on the community engagement angle while gently encouraging purchases.”
With the pandemic ushering in the era of livestreams as a norm, and the customer only needing to click on a link to become fully immersed – there is very little behavioral change required from the consumer.
Optimize Your Website
“Optimize your website before you direct massive traffic to it. Just like you would when starting with paid ads, your company needs to make sure you plug any holes. Otherwise, you will be leaving money on the table if the site creates any friction for the consumer,” advises Kressel.
And it’s important to launch the event from your own site versus a social media platform. “This way you own the first-party data and can still simulcast to your socials to capture those audiences.”
Tracking the right KPIs for live shopping events allow companies to make better-informed decisions, and increase conversions and sales.
“Establish your KPIs upfront and build programming and sales inventory around it.” Kressel says it’s important to ask yourself this question: “What does your customer need to know about your product or the lifestyle your product or service fits in”?
There are many ways that live shopping can positively impact KPIs. Demonstrating products that are currently in-stock and ready to ship can increase sell-through rates.
Answering questions about the product that can’t be conveyed easily in product descriptions can impact conversions.
And providing an overall highly engaging experience can help customers who aren’t comfortable shopping online make the decision to hit the purchase button.
Work With Employees And Brand Ambassadors
Incorporating your own teams as well as brand ambassadors makes for a better customer experience. “Influencers are great to generate brand exposure but they won’t be able to answer all of the consumer’s detailed questions. Encourage your employees to host or at least be a part of the livestream.”
She also recommends planning giveaways to lure potential customers. “These gifts should only be given to those who attend the live event as a way to bolster audience attendance.” This will create a more exclusive experience and encourage potential customers to join.
Test New Formats
As with everything else, it’s key to run some tests and see what is working versus what is not. “Livestream shopping is not one-and-done. It requires testing, and refreshing the content periodically to stay of interest to consumers,” says Kressel.