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What DTC eCommerce Brands Need to Know About Live Shopping

From simple solutions to sophisticated platforms, live shopping is what's now in eCommerce.

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Live shopping has taken the DTC eCommerce industry by storm over the past year, and it is easy to see why. The COVID-19 pandemic, social media trends and evolving technology has created the perfect atmosphere for the new evolution of QVC-style shopping to thrive.

While Facebook Live and Instagram Live have helped foster iterations of live selling for several years, the trend has gained momentum with livestream video shopping apps dedicated solely to the purpose. Mobile app NTWRK recently raised $60 million in funding, backed by big names like Goldman Sachs, Kering luxury group and prestigious luxury brands like Gucci and Bottega Veneta.

The move has marked a clear shift in live shopping — no longer are these events reserved for small businesses, influencers or overseas brands. The trend is here to stay in the U.S. with a projected growth of $25 billion by 2025. 

Naturally, then, the most competitive DTC eCommerce brands are already embracing live customer events in inventive ways. Here is what every eCommerce company should know about live shopping.

Alibaba’s Taobao Live Pioneered the Concept

Chinese behemoth eCommerce site Alibaba was the first recognized platform to reinvent live shopping on a large scale. In May 2016, the company created an online livestream linked to their eCommerce store, allowing viewers to shop while watching entertaining and informative video content.

When they used the strategy in tandem with Singles’ Day — the biggest retail holiday in China — the success of the tool was evident. Taobao Live brought in an astonishing $7.5 billion in pre-sales just 30 minutes after the event kick-off, and Alibaba competitors like Mogujie and JD.com quickly jumped on board the trend.

The Number of Platforms Is Ever-Growing

DTC eCommerce brands ready to dive into live shopping have a host of platform options. They might dabble in the practice using Facebook or Instagram Live. Or, they could livestream from YouTube to sell products and allow customers to chat and interact simultaneously. Experimental brands have even used the livestream gaming app Twitch as an avenue for live shopping.

And of course, a number of apps have popped up in recent years, including TalkShopLive, Commentsold and Brandlive. Finally, Amazon has climbed aboard the trend with their own platform, Amazon Live.

Live Shopping Increases Conversions and Enhances Brand Awareness

Streaming shopping events are clearly novel and enticing to brands ready to shake up their marketing approach. But does it create real value? Absolutely. Brands using live selling report increased conversions of up to 30% — a rate 10 times that of standard eCommerce shopping. The feature also offers enhanced branding which brings in new website traffic, particularly from Gen Z and Millennial generations. Companies using live shopping report seeing a 20% increase in younger audiences.

A female influencer demonstrates beauty products for live shopping

Live Selling and Influencer Marketing Are a Natural Pair

eCommerce companies have long used influencer marketing to leverage audiences and promote their brand. Fortunately, the tactic is a natural fit for live shopping, too. Influencers can help increase trust and build authentic relationships between brands and their customers, as well as bring new and loyal audiences from their long-time follower base.

Chinese influencer Viya Huang showcases the powerful combination of influencers and live shopping, selling millions of dollars worth of cosmetics, clothing and other products every night to a live audience. 

Audiences Demand Authenticity

As eCommerce companies selling to younger audiences already know, Millennials and Gen Z consumers demand authenticity from the brands they support — and the sentiment rings true for live shopping, too.

Audiences see live shopping as a way to see products as they are in real-life, rather than a perfect, photoshopped version of a product. They see the streaming events as a chance to increase human interaction and develop greater bonds with a brand, leaving the cold, sterile shopping experience behind.

There Are Countless Ways to Utilize Live Events

For brands unsure of how to approach this unique channel, there is good news: Successful live events follows no strict rules about how, when or where to utilize the strategy. From product demonstrations to influencer collaborations, eCommerce brands are trying out a host of ways to make the most of this futuristic form of shopping.

Clothing and beauty brand Sassy Jones has used Facebook Live to host weekly styling events, bringing their products into on-trend outfits in front of a live audience. Meanwhile, beauty brand Origins is using Instagram Live Shopping to educate and engage followers. Even celebrity business owners are taking to apps like Talkshoplive to promote their products, including the likes of Dolly Parton, Alicia Keys and Meghan Trainor.

Live Shopping Does Not Require a Huge Audience (or Investment)

Smaller eCommerce brands interested in trying live selling can breathe a sigh of relief. An event does not require a huge audience or massive investment to be successful.

Instead, brands should start by focusing on quality of video footage and the products being sold. 

Each live shopping event should be preceded by a thoughtful plan. How will the brand relate to their audience? How will they keep them entertained throughout the event? What makes each product valuable? And how can viewers better relate to the brand through storytelling?

Manu Garcia, head of live shopping at digital commerce platform VTEX in Latin America, notes that brands should advertise events across social media channels, aiming to educate followers about the unique benefits of shopping live.

Support Your Events with a Specialty Store

Live shopping offers DTC eCommerce brands an innovative way to grow audiences, increase conversions, and boost revenue. Fortunately, the format is open to companies large and small, accessible across numerous social media platforms, websites and apps.

Support your live sales with an eCommerce platform that’s ready to meet sales demand after the event. Scalefast specialty stores let you build sale events that delight your customers and maintain your margin. Talk to an expert to find out how Scalefast provides a streamlined tool for employee stores, product drops, outlet stores and more.

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