A boom in both online shopping and in new virtual ways of connecting with others has been the direct result of the global pandemic in 2020. Entire industries have shifted their means of connecting, communicating, working and transacting.
In most countries around the world, measures put in place to restrict the spread of the virus forced millions of retailers to shutter their stores, which for many has meant they’ve had to cease trading altogether.
However in other cases, the sharp uptake in online shopping was a godsend for those who could turn to the web to enable them to keep trading.
This shift of focus to the web has seen some exciting new ways of communicating with and engaging customers – beyond just websites, Facebook or Instagram store fronts-of-sorts, or even WeChat- or WhatsApp-based sales.
It’s called live streaming shopping. And the emerging new trend is as close as you can get to an in-store experience in an online world. It’s a live, real-time, visual connection that is both highly engaging and entertaining.
In fact, it’s a $60bn industry in China, with triple digit year-on-year growth.
But what is it exactly? It’s a combination of product demonstrations and live broadcasting with global reach. In that sense it’s a little bit like the Shopping Channel on cable TV of old, but it is significantly more modern, and attracting people of all ages and wallet sizes.
The key differentiator is that live streaming shopping offers brands and customers a two-way and interactive experience. Users can chat with the host, connect via their camera, ask questions, or give feedback and product reviews.
A broad range of retailers are adopting live streaming shopping – including beauty, retail, electronics – almost everything can be sold via a live stream!
Many companies will ask themselves, are consumers ready?
It wasn’t long ago that brands were predominantly merchandising on their websites or via social media using still images. But increasingly we’ve seen brands promote their products or services via video, which is proving a much richer, engaging experience for customers. In fact, according to Forbes, 95% of the audience is more receptive to remembering a call-to-action if they have seen it on video than in an image or text (Forbes, 2017).
Video really has become our primary means of communicating, expressing ourselves and connecting with the world. And for shopping, it really is no different. Connecting with customers via a video platform enables brands to achieve a deeper connection with their customers and advocates, by providing help, assistance and guidance in a significantly more human way that any chat platform alone could ever achieve.
Live shopping facilitates sales at scale, and can be adopted by both small and large companies because large budgets are not needed to put on a show. All you need is a smartphone, your products, to position yourself in front of the camera and……action!
Live streaming is one of the reasons why Instagram has increased the time limit of its “Live” offering from 60 minutes to 4 hours. Global marketplaces including Alibaba, Aliexpress and Amazon have already launched live broadcasting through which consumers can make purchases.
And as you’d expect, celebrities have jumped straight into this new world too.
In 2019 Kim Kardashian sold her entire 15,000 unit stock of KKW perfume in just a matter of minutes, to an audience of over 13 million live stream viewers in China. Mind blowing, right? Well, her bestie, Paris Hilton, the queen of shopping, is also an early adopter and said as much in her first interview with her boyfriend Carter Reum on the subject – “I am obsessed with live streaming shopping” she said, having used it a lot during confinement, and continuing to do so now. The socialite firmly believes this is the evolution of ecommerce and web sales, and it is a trend that is here to stay.
And who are we to argue?!