The COVID-19 pandemic undoubtedly brought significant change for brands across all industries. For many, including those in the retail and eCommerce sector, it accelerated the shift to digital channels. As many brick-and-mortar brands were forced to move business online, this irreversibly changed the way consumers shop and are influenced by branded media.
At the onset of the pandemic, eCommerce sales grew by over 25% and continued to trend upward well into 2021. But as the competition widened online, many brands had to get creative to make their product offering stand out. One of those creative outlets is livestream selling (also known as livestream shopping for consumers). In 2022, with an increase in consumer shopping behaviors via the Internet, apps, and streaming services (think OTT advertising)—it’s time for businesses to explore livestream selling.
In this article we’ll dive into what live stream selling is and the major benefits it offers eCommerce businesses.
What is Livestream Selling?
Coined as ‘the new QVC’, livestream selling is when an influencer or brand demonstrates a product in a live online video on a social media platform (Facebook, Instagram, etc.), direct video call with a customer, or another avenue (e.g., marketplace apps like Shopify’s). Viewers can get questions answered in real-time and purchase the product directly from the stream.
5 Major Benefits of Livestream Selling
While it’s true that live stream selling requires more effort to execute than normal avenues of selling online, the return on investment for eCommerce brands can be huge for several reasons:
1. Helps drives digital sales and conversions
Let’s cut to the chase: sales generated through livestream selling are expected to account for as much as 10- to 20% of all e-commerce sales by 2026, making it an opportunity eCommerce brands can’t afford to overlook.
This resource offers recorded live shopping events from influencers to show you how it works (but remember: being an influencer is not a requirement for success!). In the example below, the brand Lime Light Boutique uses the live shopping feature on Facebook to show new in-store arrivals. This gives viewers a first-hand glimpse of the new clothing drops and access to unique offers while watching the live stream. This creates not only a sense of exclusivity but also urgency as multiple viewers may be interested in buying the same inventory. More so, the real-time nature of the shopping experience makes it easy to quickly purchase a product without time for hesitation.
2. Livestream selling humanizes the online shopping experience
When a consumer is shopping for clothes, for example, many will look at user reviews to see how the clothes quality is and if the sizing is accurate (True to Size, Size Up, Size Down, etc.). With a live shopping feed, businesses can answer questions and concerns right away and help consumers better understand the products, and hopefully inspire them to make a purchase. Informed audiences lead to better purchasing decisions and minimizes returns.
3. Creates a personal connection with customers
Some may argue that remote work is a negative when trying to foster a real connection between management and employees. This is the same for eCommerce, as everything is digital and not face-to-face. When a brand conducts a live stream, this gives them a way to connect with both current and potential customers Suddenly, your target audiences are all in one place for you to speak with.
For consumers, the livestream shopping feature offers buttons (Like, Love, Thumbs Down, etc.) for them to engage with your brand’s host. This can help you determine which products are most popular during a live stream event and which aren’t, helping inform your inventory strategy for future months.
4. Can help save on traditional marketing costs
Businesses typically hire a marketing team and utilize different eCommerce marketing tools to drive leads and increase conversion. With livestream selling, all you need is an outgoing host and a platform where a business can promote its goods and services (for free!). Every live shopping feature also offers analytics so you can see who visited the stream, who engaged, and who converted to a customer.
While livestream selling shouldn’t replace your other eCommerce methods, it’s an easy way to enhance your current efforts with little to no cost. Additionally, it can help you understand which products your brand should be putting more dollars behind.
5. Livestream selling is the future of shopping
When it comes to traditional online shopping, Millennials and Gen Z own the space—and livestream selling is no different. 62% of Millennials and 55% of Gen Z note that they’re comfortable making a purchase from a brand’s live shopping event. In other words, the popularity of live shopping is only expected to grow in the coming years.
Keep in mind that livestream selling is particularly successful for brands with a large following. For example, Alibaba’s live stream selling platform has ~40 million followers. During the 2021 Singles’ Day shopping festival (marketed as the world’s biggest 24-hour online sale) the marketplace generated $7.5 billion in the first 30 minutes.
How to Setup Live Shopping via Instagram
Seeing that Instagram is one of the largest platforms used for live shopping events, we’ll focus to how you can start livestream selling on this platform. Instagram uses a ‘Shops’ concept, where brands can tag and upload their product catalogs to Instagram ads and their own platforms. During live streams, brands can link the products they are showcasing for consumers to add into their shopping carts.
So how does a company go live on Instagram and sell said products? Check out how to set up a live shopping event step-by-step below:
1. Press the Plus icon located in the top right corner of the screen
2. Select the Live option
3. Click on the Shopping tab
4. Brands will choose the products they want to highlight from their catalog
5. Select the broadcast button to go Live
6. Once the camera is on, you have the choice to pin one item at a time onto the screen. For example, an apparel brand can promote its spring collection by pinning products on the screen throughout the live stream.
Consumers can tap on products from a catalog, which will take them to the product detail page to learn more. From there, they can make a purchase directly in the Instagram app. The screenshot below shows what it looks like when consumers are viewing a livestream selling event.
What’s great about using Instagram for livestream selling is that it gives consumers the option of saving their payment information. This makes future checkouts easier and more convenient for the customer, making them more likely to complete their purchase.
Moreover, eCommerce brands can also partner with fulfillment companies such as Deliverr, which integrates with the marketplace to provide a fast and sustainable 2-day guarantee shipping.