Over the last two years online live shopping (sometimes called livestream shopping) has taken off in the U.S. Consumers now are not only comfortable with discovering and purchasing products online, but some of us prefer this method of shopping over in-store. As a result, brands large and small are starting to use live shopping as a sales and marketing channel to more fully engage their customers.
A great place to start planning your foray into live shopping—essentially a combination of a livestream and e-commerce—is by understanding the top five do’s and don’ts in selling via a livestream. This will help you understand the impact that online live shopping can have on your business and how much you can learn about your customers by experimenting in this space.
1. Don’t look at live shopping as just social media.
And do consider all digital channels and platforms when designing your strategy. While it may be tempting to think about live shopping as primarily happening on Instagram (as creators and brands flood our news feeds with live product demos), the opportunity for live shopping across the digital landscape is much more broad and nuanced. For example, large well-known brands and retailers like Aldo shoes, Nordstrom and Bloomingdale’s have been hosting live shopping events directly on their owned-and-operated websites, including recurring or exclusive events to specific customers, such as loyalists or VIPs.
In Nordstrom’s case, the company saw so much success with live shopping events online that it launched its own live shopping channel. This channel provides live shopping events you can view via appointment viewing as well as previous events that you can stream on demand.
For smaller or emerging brands, platforms like Verishop can connect brands with creators to help showcase and feature their products. What’s also unique about Verishop are its live shopping tools such as livestreaming and Shop Parties, where users can host a virtual shop party with their friends and shop together on the platform using video chat.
2. Don’t rush into live shopping.
Do put a thoughtful plan together. While it may be tempting to add live shopping to your existing PR or influencer strategy, it’s not going to be as impactful if you plan it at the last minute. Many factors need to be considered, specifically:
• Carefully consider who you’re trying to reach with your event. This can help you determine the right platform for the event, the host and the promotional strategy.
• Pick the right host and platform. You need to ensure that your host not only can represent your brand and products well and relate to the event audience, but also be familiar and comfortable with the event hosting platform.
• Specificity and simplicity matter. Be specific about what you're selling during the event and why it’s appealing to the audience. Allow viewers to ask questions and gain confidence in a particular product to boost conversion rates. This may also improve return rates, as people will be more confident in the product prior to making the final purchase.
• Include a compelling offer or promo to drive conversion. Since people are tuning in live, they want to be sure they're rewarded for their time.
• Make it easy to purchase. Platforms like Amazon may yield higher conversion rates since users are already in a shopping mindset (versus a scrolling mindset, which is common on social platforms), and product links with strong CTAs can be featured directly below the video event.
3. Don’t forget about the promotional strategy.
Do invest in an integrated (paid, owned, earned) strategy to boost viewership of your event. This is a key benefit of hosting your event directly on your website or app property, or on a platform with enabled advertising like Amazon or Instagram. For example, Amazon Ads allows you to use ads to promote your event and drive traffic to it, as well as retarget viewers after the event. Investing in content for organic and owned channels, as well as using paid media to amplify the promotion of the event, can lead to higher viewership and engagement.
4. Don’t assume all sales will come during the live event.
Do take advantage of latent viewing and make sure people can purchase after. People may want to watch your event after the fact. The shelf life of your event may be based on the season, what you’re selling and the relevance to the consumer. Household appliances or furniture will naturally have a longer shelf life than clothes or beauty products, as these are more likely to be in demand based on the season or latest fashion trends.
5. Don’t get discouraged.
Do keep experimenting. Innovation is happening everywhere. If you test live shopping and it doesn’t meet your expectations, don’t give up. So much innovation is occurring within live shopping, especially within the technology that enables it, that it pays to keep trying.