The Rise of Live Shopping

By Lucy Hutchinson, Research and Content Manager

What is Live Shopping?

Live shopping or (Livestream shopping) is basically QVC for Gen Z. Home shopping channels like QVC were very popular until a few years ago. So why exactly did home shopping work? It’s because it was the perfect combination of shopping, entertainment and socialising, shoppers loved interacting and shopping with their favourite hosts from the comfort of their own home. Live shopping is essentially bringing back the old school home shopping concept into modern times for a new audience through new channels. 

In a live shopping stream, the host, usually an influencer or a celebrity, promotes a product or range of products through live video and all engagement between the host and the audience is completely live. Many of the live shopping platforms offer functionality to include clickable links on the stream, so shoppers can buy on the same screen as they are watching on. Chat boxes are also available to make the experience super interactive allowing viewers to ask questions and get answers in real time before making a purchase decision. 

6 Benefits of Live Shopping:

Brand Engagement & Awareness

There is so much content out there in the digital world, consumers are constantly overpowered with new brands, ads, promotional emails and so on, it’s hard to keep their attention. With a high demand for something new and a personalised experience, live shopping can provide the new experience consumers are hungry for.

Video content has higher engagement rates than most forms of content, people are twice as likely to share video content with their friends than any other type of content. What’s more, live shopping enables your viewers to chat with you in real-time. All of these factors pave the way for higher engagement rates, and in return, higher conversion rates and more sales.

Live shopping is also perfectly suited for influencer partnerships, which can hugely increase brand awareness. This type of marketing gives influencers more freedom and allows them to showcase their personality, which is what their followers love about them in the first place. It allows the influencer to really connect with followers in ways that are very hard to do through, for example, a regular social media post. 

Viewers feel like they are in the store with support from their favourite influencer or celebrity whose opinion they trust, answering their questions in real time, helping them make the right purchase decision. It makes the shopping process more personal, especially when the live stream comes from the influencers own home, as viewers can see how the products are incorporated into their real life. 

This combined with this with the fact that having successful influencer/celebrity partnerships can drastically increase brand awareness by sharing audiences, means it’s a win win for all parties.

Sales & Conversion Rates 

If you advertise your live shopping event right, you can expose your products to hundreds or even thousands of people in just a few minutes. And, if you host the event well, once your viewers are having fun, they’ll probably invite others to join. Most apps that have live shopping functionality allow brands to include clickable links within the live stream, so viewers can buy on the same screen they are watching on, creating a super streamlined purchase process. Chat boxes are also usually embedded into the stream to make the experience hyper interactive so shoppers can ask questions and get answers in real time before making a purchase decision.

In 2020, video shopping platform NTWRK saw a celebrity jeweller sell $120,000 worth of gold-coloured vacuum sealers in five seconds. Yes, you read that right. If that doesn’t make you see the potential of live shopping, then nothing will.

According to Coresight, live shopping is predicted to account for $35 billion in sales and 3.3% of all U.S. ecommerce by 2024. Of course, that’s just a drop in the bucket compared to the livestreaming market in China, which is projected to reach $300 billion in sales this year.

Encourages Impulse Buying 

Live shopping makes the viewer feel like they’re a part of something big. To make this feeling of belonging last, consumers often end up purchasing something they didn’t think they would.

People also generally cave to impulse buying when they experience the fear of missing out (FOMO).

Some ways in which a live shopping experience may trigger FOMO:

  • Viewers see many others on the live broadcast buying a product.
  • The product is often only discounted for the duration of the live event.
  • An influencer or celebrity they really trust is promoting it.
  • Essentially, live shopping creates feelings of urgency and excitement, which paves the way for a fun shopping experience, and in return, high conversion.

Showcasing underperforming products

Live shopping sessions have the potential to turn underperforming products into top-performers. Firstly, identify the most likely reasons why the product isn’t selling. Sometimes a product is too complicated or it can be difficult to communicate the benefits of a product through a regular ecommerce product page, live shopping means time can be spent to promote this product within the environment it’s created to be used in.

Fewer Returns

The terms ‘impulsing buying’ and ‘fewer returns’ very rarely come together in the same sentence, but live shopping seems to be the anomaly. According to RetailTouchPoints, live shopping is a more sustainable way to sell online, with return rates sometimes 40% lower than more traditional ecommerce channels. 

Although shoppers are making fast and impulsive purchases due to the FOMO concept, they are receiving a lot more information about what it is they are buying than through traditional ecommerce shopping, which may contribute to lower returns.

More Social Media Engagement

When you broadcast a live shopping stream on social media networks in addition to shopping platforms, you create more chances for viewer engagement and boost your social presence.

Where to Host a Live Shopping Event?

Social media apps with live shopping capabilities

Some social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and YouTube have live shopping functions so you can promote and sell products or services during your live videos.

Instagram Live Shopping: Instagram has a shopping feature enabled with its live video function, so you can stream to your Instagram account while showcasing products. It’s one of the most popular options because it’s such a well-known platform and many companies have already invested in building up an audience on Instagram.

YouTube Live: In July 2022, YouTube announced that a Shopify integration is coming soon. For now, the platform lets you place a clickable link in your live videos so you can technically do a live shopping stream by inserting the link to the product page. You can also sync your Google Merchant Center account to place products directly in videos.

Twitch: The popular gamer-focused live streaming platform Twitch has tons of features that allow for interactivity with viewers. It’s not known as a live shopping platform, but you can add clickable links for online stores in the live chat or your channel’s About page. For some video games, Twitch Partners can also sell in-game items (or the game itself) and get 5% of the proceeds. Creators can also create and sell custom T-shirts and merch on Twitch via Teespring, which partnered with the gaming platform in 2019.

Dedicated live shopping platforms

Although platforms with shoppable streaming as their sole or main purpose aren’t as well-known as social media sites, they’re becoming more popular.

Amazon Live: Rather than a live streaming service that started offering shopping, Amazon is an online retailer that started offering live streaming. Streams on Amazon Live are geared solely toward the promotion and sales of products — and only products on Amazon. It’s a better choice for influencers or content creators that aren’t affiliated with a single brand.

Popshop: Popshop is a mobile live shopping platform for iOS. Video hosts can upload purchase links using photos and integrate the app with an inventory management software to keep better track of sales.

Buywith: The live shopping platform buywith was designed to make promoting products and scoring partnerships with brands easier for influencers. It allows creators to shop with their followers live on e-commerce sites.

TalkShopLive: The “always live social-shopping network” TalkShopLive has become a big player in the live shopping market, attracting big-name influencers and celebrities who want to share their products. The emphasis is on both selling and the social connection.

NTWRK: NTWRK is the live shopping platform that helps people discover new brands, products and artists. Users can subscribe to specific episodes for a chance to get limited-release products.

Shopshops: Shopshops is a popular live shopping platform in China and has recently come to the U.S. as well. Its focus is on content creators and shopping influencers who can sell either curated products from brands or their own creations.

Taobao: The Alibaba-owned live shopping platform is the market leader but until very recently, the customer base was primarily in China. Some companies from the West have started broadcasting shoppable streams on Taobao, and it’s a platform worth checking out if you’re considering making live shopping videos.

Tips for Hosting a Successful Live Shopping Event:

  • Understand your target audience

It’s important to figure out who your live shopping event is aimed at right at the beginning before making any decisions. Doing so will help you to decide which products to promote, what platform to use, who will host the event, when it should take place, how you should market it and what content you should create.

  • Partner with an influencer 

As mentioned above, viewers feel like they are in the store with support from their favourite influencer or celebrity whose opinion they trust, answering their questions in real time, helping them make the right purchase decision. Plus, you can work with an influencer who has your exact target market and gain a lot more brand awareness from their following.

  • Build a community

Earn trust from your viewers to gain a loyal audience. Make sure the host of your event is genuinely interested in the products they are promoting, viewers can tell if it seems fake and they will lose trust in your brand.

  • Create exciting content 

Keep viewers engaged by creating exciting content that isn’t just selling. For example, if your host is an influencer/celebrity offering a Q&A can work really well to achieve more intimacy and authenticity. You could also try launching a new product during the event or do a live tutorial or demonstration with your products. People tune into live shopping events for social connection and entertainment value just as much as they do to see your products, so it’s important they don’t just feel like they are watching an ad.

  • Promote your live shopping streams

No one will tune into your stream if they don’t know it’s happening. Promote it on your social media channels with the date, time, and link to join, as well as a preview of the products or services you’ll feature. E-commerce businesses can inform current customers about the upcoming stream with an email or blog post. Build some excitement for the event by having limited-time offers or discounts for viewers and make sure everyone knows about them in advance.

Live shopping comes with a good dose of human connection and personal touch that was missing in traditional online shopping. It’s more than just a trend. It is here to stay, because it’s a win-win situation for both customers and retailers. 

While consumers enjoy the convenience of shopping from anywhere in the world, coupled with excitement and anticipation, retailers get the chance to grow their sales exponentially.

So, what are you waiting for? Pick a suitable platform of your choice, and give it a try!