Technology has an essential impact on our day-to-day activities. And the way we purchase goods and commodities makes no difference. Since 1994, when the first product was bought online, commerce has seen many transformations. But probably none as big as Livestream Shopping.
Today, online buyers are looking for new shopping experiences now more than ever. A study conducted at the end of 2020 showed that more than 50% of digital shoppers are looking for more engaging shopping journeys. Now, with the “commodification” of the goods, not products are the ones lacking. But great, memorable shopping experiences. Let’s not forget that we live in an experiential economy where how we obtain a product is often more important than the product itself.
Let’s see how commerce is reshaped by this new way of buying.
But first, let’s see what is Livestream Shopping
A very simple definition would be shoppable video. Livestream shopping sessions are live video events where viewers watch somebody present a product or service, interact with them, and at the desired moment they buy the products straight from the video experience. So, on one side we have somebody showcasing something, and on the other side, we have somebody that wants to purchase the product. As you can see, although there are a lot of myths about livestream shopping, it is in fact a very straightforward process.
It’s an interactive experience that fills the gap between traditional (in-store) purchasing and eCommerce by taking the best from both processes. Let’s see how.
According to a 2018 National Retail Federation (NRF) study, the main reason for which people like to purchase in-store is the fact that they have a better feel and look of the products. For more than a quarter of the interviewed consumers, the ability to discuss with a shop assistant is crucial when purchasing products. And 1 out 5 customers shop in-store because of the overall atmosphere. Let’s not forget that shopping is often more about the experience than it is about the actual products that we are buying.
eCommerce provides us the ability to shop every store in the world without actually leaving the comfort of our homes. With just a few clicks of a button, we can just buy products from Sidney, London, or Tokyo without even having to pause the Netflix show that we were watching.
Of course, each of the two shopping methods comes with its flaws. While in-store shopping is time-consuming, eCommerce is faceless and impersonal. While shops have working hours (and sometimes, as we have just experienced, are forced to stay closed for a long time), eCommerce often fails to answer the questions that we are looking for when looking to purchase a product.
We know brick-and-mortar shops that also sell online. We know direct-to-consumer brands, that started online, opening physical stores to help customers have a better understanding of their products. And now we are learning about the technology that fills this gap.
This is what makes livestream shopping so powerful. It takes the best from both shopping journeys and combines them into one that offers a new experience. It lets customers interact with a shop assistant live, without having to leave home, creating a unique experience for your customers. Livestream shopping is gaining more and more ground as it’s extremely popular with younger generations of shoppers.
Livestream shopping is gaining ground
The speed with which technology conquers new territories is astonishing. And as one of the most dynamic industries out there, eCommerce makes no difference when it comes to the speed with which it makes its presence in our daily lives. And neither does video commerce. Here are the livestream shopping statistics backing up this affirmation:
Digital transactions as part of total retail sales.
According to Statista, from 2019 to 2021, eCommerce transactions grew by over 40%, from 13.6 to 19.5 – as part of total retail sales. It’s expected that by 2024, eCommerce will represent almost 22% of the total retail sales. 3 times more than what it was back in 2015.
The growth is even more accelerated for livestream shopping.
China, the biggest eCommerce market, it’s also dominating the live shopping phenomenon. Backed up by platforms like Taobao, where more than half of the shoppers purchase directly from live video experiences, its total live shopping market size it’s expected to reach almost $413 billion by the end of 2023. Nearly 230 times more than in 2015, when it was evaluated at “just” $1.8 billion.
In 2019, 37% of Chinese online shoppers made at least one purchase straight from a live stream shopping event, accounting for a total of 4.5% of the total online shopping gross value. In 2020, two out of three Chinese consumers bought products via live streams, according to McKinsey Digital.
By the end of 2022, 20% of the total online shopping gross value will come from livestream purchases. For every 5 dollars spent on online shopping, one will be spent through real-time video shopping.
In the US, the livestream shopping market will end 2021 at around $11 billion, with total retail eCommerce sales of roughly $470 billion. However, the prediction for the next 2 years shows the magnitude of this new experiential way of buying. While eCommerce retail sales will see a 12% increase, the live commerce one will more than double its value, up to $23 billion. And this is just the beginning. Online customers are looking for new buying experiences, where the human touch is not missing from the overall experience.
Livestream shopping can bring conversational commerce into the online space. But more than that, it brings the human touch eCommerce is missing. It stands against faceless commerce, supports online businesses that want to bring the perks of in-store shopping to the online environment.
Both eastern and western eCommerce markets are rapidly adopting the trend that is transforming the old, impersonal digital commerce. The new, human, interface transforms online shopping into an engaging journey, helping both customers and brands.
What do customers expect from your sessions?
Internet users spend more time (3x) consuming live video than any other form of content. One reason is that, regardless of the number of viewers, creating a sentiment of intimacy around the experience. To put it otherwise: if you go live in front of 100 viewers, you will create 100 unique experiences for 100 different people.
Customers expect authenticity, a real feeling of your brand and products. They expect to be heard and have their questions answered. But most of all, they expect a seamless shopping experience. One that helps them get a better understanding of your products. And the best part is that this applies to any industry.
As a study conducted by Everbright Securities, iResearch, and McKinsey revealed, although Fashion and Beauty industries lead the way of live shopping, other industries are rapidly adopting it as well.
Getting started with livestream shopping
Deciding to use live shopping in your sales process is just Step no. 1 in the process. But fear not; with the right guidance, the process itself becomes uncomplicated. There are several things you need to take into consideration, and luckily for you, we are here to guide you through.
But firsts, let’s look at eCommerce from a social perspective. I am sure that by now you have come across social commerce. The term, first used back in 2005, defines the combination between commerce and online media that support a form of social interaction and engagement (including, but not limited to, social media platforms).
As consumer habits change, brands are looking to transform the online shopping experience. From a rather static one to a dynamic one that engages the customer and builds trust.
There are two main directions for live commerce: owned and third-party platforms. Simply put, brands can create live shopping sessions either on social media platforms or on their owned platforms (websites and apps).
As online commerce becomes more and more social, the big players in the industry have made it easier for brands to sell straight from their platforms.
Meta Platforms, Inc. has added live shopping capabilities to both Facebook and Instagram in order to shorten the customer journey. As 43% of consumers use social media to discover new products and brands (according to a study conducted by Sprout Social), brands can leverage the momentum and allow customers to buy the products from the social platform itself.
TikTok is also joining the livestream shopping race – and it’s actually doing a great job. One of their first steps in this direction was to partner up with Shopify to allow users to shop directly into the app. TikTok has also run live shopping sessions with Walmart, and while the sales numbers have not been disclosed, the brand reported a 25% growth to their fan base.
Brands embrace the opportunity of creating new shopping journeys on social media platforms for the obvious reasons – most of their fans follow them on big tech platforms. But what happens if you actually own the customer journey?
This gets us to the second scenario – creating shopping sessions on owned platforms. Brands can easily do it with the help of a live shopping software solution. This type of experience can be fully customized, allowing brands to own and control the whole customer journey and to collect zero-party data.
Actually owning the experience means that brands can use these sessions long after the live event has ended. As studies show that an important percentage of sales generated by live shopping comes after the live is actually over, having the possibility to keep the video experience on is crucial.
However, the two options mentioned above do not exclude each other. They actually work hand in hand, helping brands reach broader audiences and establish trust among their followers. Social media platforms are a great way to get started with livestream shopping, but opening a branded channel on your platform will give you total control over the entire customer journey. Let’s dig deeper and see what you should have in mind.
Livestream Shopping for Shopify
Our Shopify integration allows you to easily add livestream shopping to your eCommerce business. We have a designated app that connects Streams.live to your Shopify store, helping you manage everything from one place. After the app is added to your store, you can seamlessly search and activate products to live shopping.
During the live experience, customers will see the add-to-basked option embedded into the video, allowing them to choose the desired products without interrupting the experience. Once they are ready to buy, they just need to select “checkout” and will be redirected onto your checkout page – while still having a direct connection with your video experience.
Choosing the right livestream shopping software
Deciding which platform to use never seems easy, but in fact, there are a few rules that you need to follow. From a general point of view, here is what you should consider when narrowing the list:
- Will it help me reach my goals?
Before actually evaluating a list of smart tools, you need to make sure that you have clarified your goals. You aim to increase your sales, but which are the intermediate steps on your checklist that will help you reach your ultimate goals?
- Are you planning to drive more traffic to your website? Will the tool allow you to embed the experience into your website?
- Are you planning to have a closer interaction with the community created around your brand? Will you reward your loyal customers? Will you be able to create special shopping sessions for my community?
- Are you planning to increase conversion rates? Maybe the problem you have identified is not with the overall traffic, but with your conversion rates. And you plan to create shopping journeys that engage your viewers. Does the tool give you the needed features?
- You sell high-ticket products and customers need to be assisted before actually making the purchase. Can your viewers seamlessly advance through the sales funnel to assisted (one-on-one) sales calls?
As you can see, there are many ways to reach a specific goal. You need to check if the tool of your choice can support your efforts.
- Is it easy to use?
We choose third-party apps to make our lives easier and to increase our productivity. Yes, complex integration require time and money, but often we want to be able to test a solution before further committing. So when deciding which app to use, the first interaction can tell you a lot about what it will require for further integration as well.
- Does it give you control?
It’s your eCommerce shop, your brand, your work. Does the solution give you the level of control that makes you feel comfortable? You should choose a solution that automates the process of going live, but at the same time gives you the insights and level of control that you need to take the calls for your business.
- The right value
We are talking about the value and not price because this is what you be looking for. Of course, price is important for each one of us. But the value that the solution brings back into the company is what ultimately counts. In the long term, a valuable solution will pay itself. At Streams.live you can start for free, and upgrade plans only after your livestream shopping sessions started paying for themselves.
- Support for the app
Somewhere in the future, you will probably want to have deeper integration for your live commerce sessions. So you want to make sure that there is a support team behind the tool that you choose to work with. Or, if you have always liked to do things by yourself, an option to access the documentation that will help you reach your goals.
Required hardware for a live stream shopping session
Some years ago, going live in front of an audience was a real pain for some (the lucky ones) and just a dream for most of us. Multiple cameras, professional filming crews, special hardware and lights, expensive software. Today, we can go live in 30 seconds with the help of our smartphones. This allows you to go live anytime, from anywhere, and deliver cinematic quality video to your viewers. For professional set-ups, some external hardware will be required. But you can still do it without having to stretch out your budget.
What type of lights should you use?
Ring lights prices range from around $20 to a few hundred dollars, depending on what you want to obtain from them. If you are looking for a professional outcome, the three-point lighting should be on your radar. It includes a key light, a backlight, and a fill light that are surrounding the presenter as it follows:
Clockwise, the key light is centered at 6 o’clock, having the role to highlight the person showcasing the products. The fill light, which plays an important role in eliminating the shadows, is positioned at 8 o’clock. And to separate the presenter from the background you should use a backlight that is positioned at 2 o’clock.
Cameras for livestream shopping events
For the cameras, you should choose one that’s capable of sending a clean HDMI signal out. You can work with a webcam or you can opt for a professional DSLR or Mirrorless camera. But make sure that your model is capable of recording for a long time and that it is compatible with video encoders and sends the HDMI output to online encoders.
State-of-the-art technology ensures high-quality video output for both options. But for the audio capture, you can also use an external microphone. Especially to capture spoken dialogue. For this, you will need to check that your piece of equipment has a built-in 3.5mm microphone port.
Livestream shopping events format
The format of your event is also important, as different formats will meet different needs. To better approach this subject, it’s important to see how we can organize livestream shopping events on multiple counts.
One-to-many vs One-to-few
One way we can differentiate shopping events is based on the number of viewers we allow to the experience. At first, we may be inclined to think that larger audiences are always better. Let’s see why this is not always true.
the format is used when creating entertainment-like live shopping events. The goal here is to have as many viewers joining your stream, showcase your products, and sell to as many viewers. And there is nothing wrong with this approach. We all want to reach as many people as possible, to create awareness around our brand, and sell. After all, until recently, video content has the sole purpose of creating awareness. However, the larger the audience, the smaller the chances to be able to physically assist anyone in need. This is one of the reasons for which we have integrated the upvote function into our Questions feature. This way, you can filter the questions based on the feedback received from your viewers and you can answer the questions that are relevant for most of your viewers.
The format is what we would call an assisted shopping experience. A digital one. With Streams.live, this is a real-time video experience, where each guest is an active part of the experience. From a sales funnel perspective, this format applies to the bottom of the funnel customers. Those potential customers looking for a shop assistant with proper knowledge of your products or services. As customers advance on your sales funnel, your approach also needs to adapt. And while for some products the one-to-many approach is the right fit, a high-ticket product will request a different level of support from your team. This is where the one-to-few (and even one-to-one) format steps in. It recreates, in a digital environment, the in-store shopping experience.
Livestream shopping sessions can also be structured based on who is hosting the experience. Sometimes, you will want to work with an experienced presenter, like an influencer. For some sessions, s shop assistant, someone that knows the products, would be the best choice. And of course, for some live selling sessions, a mix of the two above will be the best fit.
Who should be hosting your live shopping events?
Anybody can go live in front of a camera. But after working with brands from all over the world, we’ve borrowed the list to the 3 formats mentioned above. Here is what you should know:
Influencer. Sessions hosted by influencers are almost always associated with the one-to-many format, working as a shopping session with a second goal of creating awareness around the brand.
- Awareness: Influencers have already built an audience and the partnership will allow you to access it
- Experienced presenters that have already gone live in front of large audiences
- Trust transfer. Through endorsement, the feelings are transferred from the influencer to the brand
- Costs. Working with an influencer will add extra costs for your live shopping session
- Control. For best results, the content should be created by the influencer (aka content creator), thus making you feel you have a lower level of control
- Product knowledge. Your audience will have questions exceeding the host’s expertise. Members of your team can answer them using the Chat function.
The virtual shop assistant is real, and it’s on the road to becoming one of the most important jobs in retail. These new online stars can use their experience and help people all over the world find the best products for their needs. This format has the highest conversion rate and accommodates both one-to-few and one-to-many approaches. To ensure a proper transition for a shop assistant that hasn’t yet mastered the “art” of live shopping, we would recommend starting with smaller audiences and moving further to the one-to-many experiences.
- Costs. Working with in-house hosts will not pressure your budget.
- Control. The content and its delivery are 100% within your reach.
- Product knowledge. The focus of the session can be on the benefits of your products and questions can be answered on the spot.
- Lower reach. The reach of your session will depend strictly on your marketing efforts.
- Learning curve. Hosting live shopping sessions is different from in-store selling
The third option is a mix of the two above.
A mixed session, hosted by an influencer and a shop assistant, will help customers move faster down the sales funnel. It provides an engaging show, backed up by knowledge, located in the sweet spot where entertainment meets shopping.
Another way to categorize livestream shopping events is based on access types. Following these criteria, we have public or private digital shopping sessions, both with pros and cons.
To go further into the subject you can read our Livestream shopping events format to choose from that not only lists all the different formats but also shows how these different formats work together and when to apply them for your business.
Key takeaways – The Benefits of Livestream Shopping
Livestream shopping creates the experience your customers are looking for. By joining the video session, they can see products being showcased live, ask questions, and feel that they are indeed assisted throughout the purchasing journey.
For brands, this new retail solution is not just increasing the conversion rate, but also drastically reducing the return rates. As customers can see products being showcased from multiple angles, the chances of purchasing the wrong products decrease. This experience is completely different from the “traditional eCommerce” that relies on static pages.