Livestream shopping

Published: March 23, 2022 (Updated: February 1, 2023)

The definitive guide to livestream shopping

Get up to speed with this handy primer.

Live commerce is transforming Ecommerce as we know it, and it’s only picking up steam.

In fact, as more and more shopping shifted online during the COVID-19 pandemic, the proportion of shoppers who bought via livestream shopping grew 86 percent in Europe, 76 percent in the Middle East, and 68 percent in North America, showing a clear change in shopping habits and preferences.

By combining video, social and instant purchasing, livestream shopping is the latest way that brands are adding value for consumers, increasing their sales and providing a streamlined customer experience (CX). But it involves much more than just clicking and filling an online cart. It’s interactive. It’s fun. And it offers new levels of engagement with brands that consumers just love!

Early adopters of livestream shopping are already hitting lofty sales numbers. To join these brands and build a successful live shopping strategy, we’ve created this definitive guide to livestream shopping to build your expertise.

The basics of livestream shopping

If you’re unfamiliar with livestream shopping, don’t fret! It's relatively new in many parts of the world, but has already shown to be a massive source of revenue and growth among early-adopter regions. For example, livestream Ecommerce sales in China reached $300 billion in 2021 (an 85% growth over 2020), and is projected to reach over $600 billion in 2023 (or over 20% of total retail Ecommerce sales).

Why is livestream shopping seeing such a surge? In short, it has a great appeal among online shoppers seeking more interactive and engaging ways to research and buy products than the traditional Ecommerce experience offers. Let's dive into some of the basics you need to know.

What is livestream shopping?

Livestream shopping involves hosting a live session to sell products online through dedicated social channels, event pages, or on your site while visitors are actively shopping. These sessions can be hosted by a brand representative, influencer, or even a celebrity, who will present and demonstrate products in real-time, allowing consumers to add-to-basket as they go, and post comments and questions in Q&A boxes that the host or other brand representatives can answer in real-time.

In other words:

Livestream shopping aims to bring the engaging experience of in-store shopping, online.

How does livestream shopping work?

In livestream shopping, a host demonstrates a product and sells it in a live consumer/brand interaction session.

For brands, a benefit of this approach is that it accelerates brand awareness, and helps speed up the sales process by empowering them to introduce products and close a sale via an online shopping experience that is more engaging and interactive than traditional online shopping methods.

Is virtual shopping the same as livestream shopping?

Virtual shopping is an umbrella term that encompasses live video shopping. Virtual shopping takes the in-store browsing experience online, equipping customers to interact via video, live chat, or text.

Live video shopping, however, is a more specific version of virtual shopping, describing an interaction purely via video.

Although chat has its purpose, it can still leave customers with unanswered questions. Chat can often be impersonal, and difficult to convey tone of voice through. Equally, you may be stuck with long waiting times to get through to an advisor, and in many cases, may not get through to a human.

A personalized customer experience is a human-customer experience. As such, if your consumers are shopping virtually, the most effective way to deliver this is through video.

One-to-one vs. one-to-many live shopping

There are several different versions of livestream shopping. Understanding the differences between them is key.

One-to-one live shopping allows in-store staff to convert online customers in a consultative, personal setting. Customers can connect to a store associate via video in under 10 seconds. The brand product-matches their associates on their expertise, to ensure the customer is always routed to the right place.

One-to-many live shopping solutions allow brands to broadcast to unlimited audiences on their own website - be it product pages, category pages, or social channels. For example, Emplifi Live Stream allows users to add to their basket as they go, ask questions in a live Q&A, and should they wish, navigate to a live one-to-one video session in a matter of clicks.

What is the best-selling approach for live events?

Livestream shopping sessions need a fun, charismatic host. This can be an influencer, outgoing employee, happy consumer, or a hired personality.

The most popular livestream sessions fall into one of three formats.

  • Demos: Host demonstrates exactly how the product works and how it will make your life easier. This is arguably the most popular livestream shopping format.

  • Interview: Host engages with brand representatives, ambassadors and/or happy customers to talk about the product and create a well-rounded experience.

  • Behind the scenes: Brand experience is center stage, as the host offers insights around how the product works and how they are made.

How is livestream shopping different from traditional shopping?

Traditional shopping often involves multiple steps and a significant investment of time. First, you might browse websites or print ads to find and learn about the product you want. Or hit the local mall. Next, you get in your car and drive to a store to see the product and talk directly with a salesperson before purchasing. Or, you might try the live-chat feature on a brand’s website to ask questions before buying online or in-store.

Livestream shopping combines the best aspects of physical shopping and online shopping together in one experience. Forget spending hours in queues, or vying for the attention of the staff member; with livestream shopping, your consumers get the best of both worlds. They can engage directly with the product, have their questions answered by a live human host in real-time, and can seamlessly make a purchase without having to leave the session.

Who are the key demographics for livestream shopping?

When it comes to the livestream shopping, millennials and Gen Z make up the largest demographics, though it’s gaining popularity among middle-aged consumers as well.

This form of selling appeals to a younger demographic, so be prepared to curate an expanded audience that goes beyond your time-tested buyer personas.

Another thing to keep in mind is that livestream shopping attracts impulse buyers. While they bring in sales, they are often one-time sales. However, with a strong post-sale consumer engagement approach, you can turn impulse buyers into loyal customers.

Is live commerce and livestream shopping the future of shopping?

Livestream shopping represents the past and the future when it comes to how consumers shop.

It takes a page from the past to replicate the feeling of engagement customers appreciate when visiting a brick-and-mortar store. Livestream shopping allows consumers to ask questions about the products and to see other versions of the products just like they can do with traditional in-store shopping.

But it’s the future because it offers a new way of gaining access and engaging with brands that consumers love. And livestream shopping moves consumers through the buying journey faster than the average online shopping process.

The pandemic accelerated the need to change the physical to virtual, and as we move away from it, it is clearer than ever that these practices are here to stay.

Live commerce and livestream shopping trends

Livestream shopping, and live commerce in general, only continues to grow in popularity worldwide. Here are some key trends and stats to know today:

5 reasons why brands should get into livestream shopping

Live commerce and livestream shopping are the future of Ecommerce - and the future is already here.

As livestream shopping quickly gains global traction, brands need to get their strategies in place to keep up with consumer expectations. Here are five key reasons why brands should start considering offering livestream shopping experiences as part of their marketing mix:

  1. Live commerce, especially via one-to-many livestream shopping experiences, allows you to reach an unlimited audience of interested shoppers at any given time with a more engaging and interactive online shopping experience than traditional methods.

  2. Livestream shopping accelerates the buyer’s journey as the stream introduces a product and creates a sense of urgency to purchase right away.

  3. Livestream events set brands apart – especially among younger generations of consumers – from their competitors who don’t offer live shopping.

  4. Live shopping brings the offline shopping experience online, which is what consumers crave.

  5. Livestream shopping builds brand-consumer engagement and strengthens relationships.

  6. Live streams give brands a chance to integrate more storytelling than they can on their website.

9 best practices of livestream shopping

Many brands are already seeing great success with live commerce and offering livestream shopping experiences. These successes reveal some key best practices we can all learn from.

  1. Experiment with different days and times to go live as well as with different featured products and live event hosts.

  2. Monitor and evaluate your live streaming efforts to help scale your strategy with a data-driven approach.

  3. Create targeted live streams for different audiences and promote different products on various streams.

  4. Strike a balance between professional and a more casual approach, to convey an authentic feel for your brand that doesn’t come across as over-produced.

  5. Engage your audience in live sessions with giveaways, quizzes or other interactive elements.

  6. Create urgency by giving consumers time-sensitive reasons to tune into your session – think discounts or limited time offers.

  7. Find an engaging host like an influencer or a brand ambassador.

  8. Promote streaming events with marketing campaigns.

  9. Dedicate a team member to oversee and manage in-house livestream shopping.

Where do you host livestream shopping experiences?

Ready to get started? You’ll need the right platform for your livestream shopping events. The ideal platform offers both livestream and Ecommerce consumer purchase capabilities.

Social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter offer livestreaming and purchasing options and there are various live streaming apps that offer a digital space to sell products.

The Emplifi Social Commerce Cloud also offers robust live commerce solutions to help brands deliver immersive one-to-one and one-to-many live shopping experiences. Emplifi Live Stream, for instance, allows brands to quickly launch live or prerecorded broadcast one-to-many shopping experiences on their website and social media accounts, and reach audiences at scale.

The results say it all - retailers that use Emplifi’s livestream service have seen conversion rates soar as high as 20-50%, an average increase of 43% in Average Order Vaue (AOV), and customer satisfaction ratings of 4.7 out of 5.

When is the time to move to livestream shopping?

Simply put - there has never been a better time to do it.

Many retailers see their online traffic growing but are constrained by low AOV and conversion rates. Livestream shopping bridges this gap, giving retailers the chance to track their calls, conversion rates, their AOV, and make real changes with actionable insights.

Live video shopping is quickly taking over the world. The future is here, and it’s time to invest.

Getting started with livestream shopping

Pioneers in livestream shopping have paved the way for your brand - and it’s time to join them. Live shopping may just be getting started, but it has already proven to be very popular and effective – especially among young consumers craving a modern-day twist on the traditional brand experience.

At its core, livestream shopping requires clear goals, an engaging host, purchase functionality, a robust marketing plan - and a powerful live commerce solution that can set everything in motion.

Learn how Emplifi’s live commerce solutions can help you take online shopping to the next level. Speak with an Emplifi expert today.

Emplifi insights and resources you might find interesting

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