Online shopping received a boost with the pandemic, which has accelerated the shift towards a more digital world. Even if most of the physical stores are now open, online retail is still showing strong growth. It is convenient, shoppers benefit from better prices and more variety, easy price comparison, and the absence of crowds. There are many advantages but there are downsides too. Things like the lack of the human factor, or the inability to check the product’s quality, are still putting many potential customers off. As shoppers’ behaviour has been changed forever, eCommerce had to start addressing these downsides. To bring the online closer to the customer in a way that feels engaging and human, eCommerce is now embracing livestream experiences.
Live shopping has been around for quite some time now; in fact, the first live video shopping show on TV happened about 40 years ago. With last year’s pandemic, things started to look bright again for a sector that was seen by many as going extinct. A study by Arvato Supply Chain Solutions shows that more and more consumers in Europe have begun to explore virtual shopping events. Now, 70 percent of European customers answered favorably when asked if they would be open to live shopping.
So, it wasn’t long until eCommerce became interested in tapping into this opportunity. If before the live sessions were mostly used for marketing purposes, finally, the missing link of live streaming has arrived – the ability for consumers to purchase products directly from the video.
The strategy presents benefits for both sides. For shoppers, livestream e-commerce brings back the human feel, but it is not limited to that. Because it incorporates live video content and two-way communication, customers can now check the quality of the product, or see how it works.
Virtual try-on sessions, questions and answers and in-store demos can help at-home shoppers make decisions faster. At the same time, the ordering process is seamless, as viewers can buy or save featured products directly from the platform.
For retailers, benefits of livestream shopping include a reduced consideration period, increased customer engagement and higher sales. At the same time, the human feel will help develop deeper connections with the consumers, and increase brand loyalty.
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All types of data can be used after the live session is finished and things like who the customers are and what products they are interested in can form a pretty clear insight for how to shape the strategy going forward.
Livestream content can also be stored in video archives where viewers can watch past events on demand. At the same time, as video content is more appreciated, smaller video segments can be used on Social Media or to enhance a product detail page.
Although it has been around in Asia for a few years now and it really proved it’s worth, livestream shopping is only getting off the ground in the west. The sign that it will be an important feature in future online commerce has already been rolled out, with Shopware announcing that they are working on making it available with the launch of their PWA. Other retailers like Nordstrom wanted to lead the way and have already developed and launched their own livestream shopping platforms.
At the moment, there are a few ways to implement it. First, there are third-party platforms that integrate seamlessly with most of the eCommerce softwares available on the market now. LiSA, Bambuser and OnLive are some of the most important names, but we are sure that, as time passes, there will be more options available. This might be the preferred option as it gives retailers the biggest control on inventory management, carts, and customer accounts data.
Other retailers that have a large social media audience prefer to use Social media platforms with shopping capabilities like Facebook, Instagram and TikTok. However, taking the commerce experience away from a retailer’s own platform means giving up control of the overall customer experience – including opportunities for personalization and re-engagement. It’s also a lost opportunity for data capture and retargeting.
No matter what option is chosen, merchants need to understand that the strategy has far more ramifications than simply increasing the number of sales. Livestream shopping comes to help that segment of customers who might be unable to visit a physical store or who prefer to shop from the comfort of their home. For them, it sets up better access to products, it answers questions in real time, it is trusting, and more importantly, it is entertaining and creates the feel of a real shopping experience.