Can live streaming make online customers feel like they’re in-store?

Discussion
Source: ABN AMRO
Oct 27, 2017
Matthew Stern

Tightening the relationship between online presence and in-store experience has become a running theme in the retail world. But one Dutch retailer has taken it a step farther, allowing customers to see into the store in real time and interact with the staff they’re watching on-screen.

Dutch cheese merchant Kaan’s has opened Kaan’s Stream Store in conjunction with bank ABN AMRO, reported Pop Up City. As shown in a promotional video, customers have access to a live stream of what’s going on inside the mom-and-pop shop. They can send chats to the employee appearing on camera who can provide information, show product and fulfill an order as if the customer were in the store.

A setup like Kaan’s Stream Store could introduce a human element into the often impersonal experience of shopping online. It’s not hard to imagine opening up an additional video chat feature that would allow for actual face-to-face communication with customers — going a step beyond the type of voice-based e-commerce used by Amazon’s Echo, Google Home and other devices.

But it’s not clear exactly where a Stream Store falls when it comes to today’s consumer trends. While the conventional wisdom is that consumers are expecting more out of their in-store retail experience, when it comes to online interaction they’re opting for more automation. Chatbots, which allow users to order products through conversations with AI, have begun to grow in popularity with customers. Restaurants like Subway and Cheesecake Factory have rolled out bots on Facebook Messenger to let users of the service order without human interaction.

Companies besides Kaan’s have recently begun to explore other creative uses of livestreaming in-store. Disney, for instance, recently introduced a new store layout for some of its brick-and-mortar stores featuring a large screen that displays a live stream of the daily parade that occurs at the company’s theme parks.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Are customers looking for features like those offered by Kaan’s Stream Store when they’re shopping online? What factors might determine whether a given retailer is successful with using a livestream this way? What might customers like or dislike about livestreaming?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"For now, the best application of the technology would seem to be in service departments and/or specialty stores."
"It could prove interesting for specialist or niche products, luxury items or products where authenticity might prove important."
"I don’t think shoppers know exactly what they want. Companies like Kaan’s are experimenting and this is what the industry needs most."

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22 Comments on "Can live streaming make online customers feel like they’re in-store?"


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Ben Ball
BrainTrust

Remember that discussion we had this week about online shopping and fresh food? What if you could quite literally jump online and tell your local butcher which steak you want out of the counter? I mean really, after all our experience selecting products via online visualizations, would it be that different than standing in front of the counter in the store?

Ed Dunn
Guest
2 years 1 month ago

I like this approach better. Not necessary a livestream but just a video capture of the butcher steaking the salmon for me to pickup later. I can share my personal food prep video on my social media feed of what I’m eating tonight with my online friends. I cannot think of anything more viral than this on a global basis from sushi prep in Japan to cheese and wine pairing in France.

Ben Ball
BrainTrust

I couldn’t resist after watching the video, so we jumped online to order some cheese just to see how the site worked. The live stream of the store is still there, but you can’t order product any more — at least not from the U.S. The English text indicates that functionality may be moving to a different site. My wife’s German let us understand enough to have great fun watching though. The shop owner is the kind of character who could definitely go viral.

Art Suriano
BrainTrust

What is needed is the virtual store giving the customer complete control of navigating through the aisles as if they were in the physical store. I see this happening sooner than we think. Then with live chat customers can ask questions and it could become an excellent customer experience. There is something to be said for live interaction that can never be replaced but having an opportunity to tour the store and merchandise will help impulse buying for e-commerce and allow customers to learn more about what a business offers in a fun and engaging way. Eventually, maybe in the future, we’ll have the Holodeck as on Star Trek, and instead of real stores, we’ll just go shopping in the Holodeck Mall.

Charles Dimov
Guest

Today’s customers don’t realize that this is an option. However this is a beautiful extension of omnichannel on the digital side. This is a great way for retailers to extend the impact of their digital offering. It makes for a much richer experience. It allows for the human interaction element that so many shoppers want. It lets customers ask questions. It also lets associates make recommendations, better inform the customer and upsell the products. All good news for retailers!

Bob Phibbs
BrainTrust

It’s a great video and the three of them could have their own reality show. This is taking technology developed for porn and using it in a new way.

But being profitable on cheese seems dicey. If this were purely an online store I could wave off the negative effects of being constantly glued to what some anonymous watcher might be asking on the web.

But with a fully functional brick-and-mortar store — what happens when it is busy in the store to those on the web? And what happens during the inevitable crush of online prior to holidays impacting the physical store? That said it’s a great example of some exciting uses for real-time commerce.

Neil Saunders
BrainTrust

I think this definitely has a role, albeit a niche one.

When purchases are complex or require interaction, such as buying a product that needs a demonstration, then there is a role for live-streaming. I can also see value in allowing shoppers to connect with employees in a store to ask questions or to seek advice.

However, a lot of online purchasing simply doesn’t require this level of engagement. As such, I cannot see this being a big trend going forward.

Seth Nagle
BrainTrust

Great point Neil, it definitely is a niche offering but one that creates a memorable experience.

Ryan Mathews
BrainTrust

In principle I like the idea but in practice I think it requires a radical rethink of what retailing is. We need to bridge the gap between the store as a transactional space and the store as media. This means rethinking everything including what kind of skills are needed to make retail work. There is an art to great livestreaming, and it begins with understanding that the rules of media are different from the rules of retailing. Finally, there is the issue of engagement levels. Do I need a livestream to encourage me to replenish items which I have low emotional engagement with like paper towels? Probably not. So for now, the best application of the technology would seem to be in service departments and/or specialty stores.

Ben Ball
BrainTrust

I agree on the application playing to service/specialty. But not so sure I agree on the need for retailers to become livestream video specialists to make this work. After all, the shoppers tuning in are there for the “live store experience” — right? So if dad happens to be sharpening his cheese blade while listening to his sons kibitz about last night’s fun in the pub — isn’t that “authenticity”?

Ryan Mathews
BrainTrust

Ben, I guess I’m thinking that there is a difference between “making it work” and fully optimizing. And yes, if we are just talking about video voyeurism, I guess that raw feel is authentic. But my guess is that people will prefer their “real life” edited — think “reality” television — and that, if this proves popular, you’ll need something beyond a videographer to keep the audience engaged. Also, I see this as an opportunity to extend the store’s digital ecosystem, i.e., livestreaming, linking in social networks, using visuals to create “merchandising narratives,” etc. If you are going to really be connected, why not?

Cate Trotter
BrainTrust

For most online interactions there isn’t really a need for this level of immersiveness (certainly not yet). A lot of people shop online to save time and so livestreaming a store and chatting with the staff won’t be high on the agenda. However, it could prove interesting for specialist or niche products, luxury items or products where authenticity might prove important (e.g., locally made produce). Rather than a day-to-day service, I wonder if livestreaming might better serve as a tool for marketing special products or new launches, where retailers can create hype and connect with core fans.

Camille P. Schuster, PhD.
BrainTrust

Consumers want fast, efficient automation when shopping online until they have a question. The streaming service looks like fun for entertainment or a useful tool when consumers have a question. Integrating the need for efficiency, the ability to get questions answered and entertainment seems like a challenge. Can the online experience switch from one environment to the other seamlessly?

Seth Nagle
BrainTrust

I don’t think shoppers know exactly what they want. Companies like Kaan’s are experimenting and this is what the industry needs most. Just replicating a brick-and-mortar store online and calling it your digital strategy doesn’t cut it.

Some of the best ideas start with the most basic concepts, but once they are implemented and retailers can gain shoppers’ feedback they can adjust the offering and create a unique value proposition.

Lyle Bunn (Ph.D. Hon)
Guest

Digital experiences that connect the physical store with customers at their convenience offer high value to all parties. When musicians on tour can see musical instruments online through the glasses worn by an associate, or a do-it-yourselfer can get expert advice and have the right product set aside for store pickup, commerce is well served. The virtual connection is a real connection in a world where connection matters.

Doug Garnett
BrainTrust
Doug Garnett
President, Protonik
2 years 1 month ago

For me, so much is lost in the move to online video that I rarely even used FaceTime to communicate with family. Sometimes, but not often.

Retailers need to be careful about technology ideas like these (and the various forms of virtual reality). Quite often we’re being sold by tech people who focus on technology rather than a deep sense of the human need for something like this to be truly effective.

Video to capture something good in a store if it exists (as with a quaint cheese shop idea)? Excellent. But right now the idea doesn’t go far beyond that.

Craig Sundstrom
Guest

We were all over the board on this on the IP, and that’s my personal take. The primary problems of not “being there” — not being able to touch or taste or smell — aren’t solved by this, so I don’t really see much point (and what about the many cases of evening or weekend or other-time-zone sales when the vendor isn’t open?) … but they get bonus points for trying.

Ralph Jacobson
BrainTrust

I actually think this streaming can be used along with chatbots and other AI technologies. This streaming adds the human factor, and I’d like to say those humans can still be competitive differentiators. Also, if the streaming can be downloaded by the shopper, imagine the social chatter implications and the growth in brand awareness for the retailer, potentially.

Ricardo Belmar
BrainTrust

There are lots of possibilities with this and it really is merchandise dependent. It’s reminiscent of the “ask an expert” via video conference idea pharmacies have been working with. I can see use cases for this in grocery (ask about ingredients in a product or quality of produce you’re about to order online), apparel (questions about feel of the material), and many others. This comes one step closer to bringing what’s positive about the in-store experience to the online store.

Cameron Conaway
Guest
I’m back from Kaan’s Stream Store (I seriously feel that in some way I’ve come back from the physical store). What a powerful way to bring the warmth and energy of an in-store experience to a digital customer — and I didn’t have to strap on a VR set to get it! The ability to click on and learn about the cheeses behind a live counter like this at once allowed me to feel immersed in the human element while maintaining my digital privacy. I can’t say I’ve ever felt that before. A few ideas that came to mind: 1. Tapping into nostalgia. I still think about certain shops in cities/countries that I once lived in. An experience like this that allowed me to see familiar characters and feel familiar energies could bring me back as a customer. 2. Local relevancy. I will not forget what I just experienced at Kaan’s, and I could see retail shops creating a similar impact on local customers that may have swung in 3 weeks ago and through the… Read more »
John Kueber
Guest
2 years 1 month ago

Some great comments so far. As a company providing a livestreaming platform to dozens of retailers (www.liveshopcast.com), I can tell you that it works (i.e. drives sales) and ironically, production value is not a leading indicator. We’ve seen some shows performed with bad lighting, bad sound and even so-so presentation skills, but if they engage with their audience and make a personal connection and that is what drives sales. If you have an interesting product that demands questions (vs a commodity type product that everyone universally understands) then livestreaming can generate a lot of increased conversions.

Franklin Chu
Guest

Livestreaming is quite popular in China right now, especially for cross-border e-commerce. Livestreaming gives the audience a chance to see the actual products and physical stores, which helps to enhance authenticity and build consumers’ trust towards a retailer and their merchandise.

Metrics such as the number of views, sales records, increased numbers of followers and the volume of comments all indicate whether a livestreaming session is successful.

Last month, UK retailer Feelunique invited two famous beauty opinion leaders in China to visit their pop-up store in the UK and livestream their experience to a China audience. This two-day event attracted tens of millions of total views and offered exclusive sales deals during the livestreaming session, enhancing engagement between the retailer and its fans, while boosting brand awareness of Feelunique in China.

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"For now, the best application of the technology would seem to be in service departments and/or specialty stores."
"It could prove interesting for specialist or niche products, luxury items or products where authenticity might prove important."
"I don’t think shoppers know exactly what they want. Companies like Kaan’s are experimenting and this is what the industry needs most."

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