Is the pandemic pushing livestream shopping into the mainstream?

Discussion
Source: Amazon Live/Rebecca Minkoff
Dec 17, 2020
Matthew Stern

A form of online shopping that is popular elsewhere in the world may finally be catching on stateside, aided by pandemic-era stay-at-home habits.

Livestream shopping may be on the verge of making significant inroads in America, Inc. reports. Major brands have picked up on the strategy as a way to both engage with and sell directly to a customer base that’s largely locked down. The selling model resembles that of HSN and other cable television shopping services. Hosts promote products to be purchased immediately by viewers with a few simple clicks.

Popular accessible luxury brand Rebecca Minkoff has begun livestreaming on Amazon Live and Instagram. Ms. Minkoff, the company founder, promotes products during the events. The brand reports a 20 percent sales lift for the featured products, regardless of the platform used for the streaming event.

Other vendors have reported similar success. Owlet, a baby care brand, reported a nine to 16 percent sales increase during the week when it was piloting a livestreamed sales event on Amazon.

There has also been a wave of livestreaming shopping platforms popping up in the U.S., including apps like Livby, Moda Operandi, NTWRK, PopShop Live, Shoclef, Shoclef and ShopShops. Some of these services are targeted at particular niches rather than general shoppers. Others are invite-only, and some already have appreciable global presences.

The model has yet to approach the level of penetration that it has experienced in China where two-thirds of customers say they have purchased something via livestreaming in the last 12 months, according to CNBC.

While it is easy to see why this new form of interactive infomercial is proving ideal for a pandemic-era audience, it is not without its hurdles for businesses.

For instance, there is typically a learning curve for creating livestream-appropriate content and an accompanying strategy that successfully incentivizes customers to purchase products they are unable to trial, as a recent letter to the South China Morning Post notes.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you see livestreaming being part of mainstream shopping in the U.S. after the pandemic has passed? What steps should retailers take to create their own livestreaming presence?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"Since two out of three Gen Zers have made a purchase on social media, livestreaming could captivate this lucrative, tech-savvy cohort."
"Until the technology usage and comfort level is there on both ends, I would expect livestreaming to grow rapidly but only with certain sectors targeting specific demographics."
"I think the TV model is much more suited to Boomers and maybe Gen X. I just don’t see it as something Millennials and Gen Z have the patience for."

Join the Discussion!

17 Comments on "Is the pandemic pushing livestream shopping into the mainstream?"


Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Paula Rosenblum
BrainTrust

I don’t think it’s going to be really sticky. Amazon has tried it, both with a generic show (Live) and with “Making the Cut” with Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn.

I think the TV model is much more suited to Boomers and maybe Gen X. I just don’t see it as something Millennials and Gen Z have the patience for.

Richard Hernandez
BrainTrust

I agree with Paula. While I think there is merit in having real people show or promote clothing, the younger crowd wants to get to the details ASAP. The key is how to find the sweet spot where it can be of value to all demographics. And the landscape is ripe for a solution since it will be a very long time before traffic comes back to brick and mortar stores.

Jeff Sward
BrainTrust

Like so many other things, the pandemic has accelerated the move to livestream commerce. Mall retailers would be well advised to embrace this channel quickly. I have to believe there are lots of brands brainstorming this as we speak. Make it TikTok in real time.

Bob Phibbs
BrainTrust

I would agree with the learning curve and just because you can go live doesn’t mean you should. I think many smaller retailers were able to cobble together something during the summer/fall which enabled them to still sell though they didn’t have nearly as big a website as the bigger players. That said, it does become “one more thing” for many. Content creation isn’t something you can just wing. Consumers want it and brands can sell full price without discounts and engage in new ways. I know one of our customers, Hammitt handbags in Los Angeles, is tearing it up for both themselves and their customers like Dillard’s. There’s an appetite for this but does it scale for anyone but the bigger players? That is the million-dollar question here.

Shep Hyken
BrainTrust

Livestream shopping is an idea that may have come of age. Once the customer sees how easy it is to take “shopping from home” to the next level, they will embrace and enjoy it. A good salesperson will take advantage of giving their customers a convenient way of seeing the latest merchandise. But realize that this is simply another channel in the customer’s shopping experience. Retailers will have to inform and teach their customers the benefits to this convenient solution. Just as BOPIS was just an idea a few years ago and now has widespread popularity, livestream shopping will become a viable channel in the near future.

Rodger Buyvoets
BrainTrust

Livestreaming could be interesting, especially for luxury retailers. It could be a good opportunity for showcasing exclusive events, including a runway show where people can buy pieces as they are being shown – a new way of experiential retailing. The preliminary strategies to tap into this would start by retracing each step made to release new lines (for luxury brands) and then analyzing how these can be digitized. Using the right platform here is critical, plus ensuring there’s enough opportunity to get close-ups of the fabric so shoppers can get the look and get the feel of the quality of the material.

Lisa Goller
BrainTrust

Yes! Livestreaming is a retail marketing dream, shortening the journey between product discovery and purchase.

Live, entertaining content helps brands engage consumers longer and more effectively with real-time interaction. In return, retail companies gain rich data insights to refine their personalized marketing and drive sales.

Livestreaming best practices include:

  • Targeting relevant communities (like new moms, beauty or fitness enthusiasts);
  • Collaborating with influencers to maximize brand reach;
  • Exclusive, limited-time deals that trigger consumers’ sense of urgency.

Since two out of three Gen Zers have made a purchase on social media, livestreaming could captivate this lucrative, tech-savvy cohort.

Shelley E. Kohan
BrainTrust

Livestreaming will take off in the U.S. market as it directly hits upon a few key consumer trends of convenience, personalization and loyalty. Directly connecting with customers in this type of event will drive loyalty. Customers will feel special and like part of the “in-crowd.” Brands will also be able to capitalize on other types of digital commerce such as one-to-one FaceTime, TikTok and other social commerce avenues. Livestreaming is the tip of the iceberg and will open up other opportunities for brands to build loyalty, especially DTC brands. There will be higher user adoption on the fashion and beauty side of the industry.

Ralph Jacobson
BrainTrust

Do I see a seamless, painless, convenient and fun way to shop online catching on? Yep. Retailers need to catch the wave.

Karen Wong
BrainTrust

I’ve seen firsthand the potential of livestreaming for retailers in Asia where it is now a key sales channel but we have a long way to go as:

  • Smartphone usage in every day life is nowhere near as broad as it is in Asia where they leapfrogged desktop computers for personal computing;
  • There aren’t enough experienced livestreamers yet;
  • Retailers would need to eventually upgrade their technical skills to produce quality sessions and integrate their commerce systems to livestreaming platforms.

Until the technology usage and comfort level is there on both ends, I would expect livestreaming to grow rapidly but only with certain sectors targeting specific demographics. Discretionary, especially luxury discretionary goods would be ideal. I know that many bridal shops have been able to leverage livestreaming in place of traditional trunkshows this year as a result of the pandemic.

Ricardo Belmar
BrainTrust

Yes, the time has come for livestreaming to take off in the U.S.! But yes, there will be a learning curve as brands and retailers learn what types of content will resonate with audiences. Smaller retailers quickly turned to this medium during the pandemic as their stores were either closed for lockdowns or experiencing reduced foot traffic. As social media video formats like TikTok and Instagram Reels train consumers to pay attention to the format, retailers will learn how to create the right content. The key is for retailers to realize this isn’t just an adjacent channel they can occasionally turn to. It will require constant feeding and development so a commitment is needed but it will pay off if done appropriately. There is also a question of what products you are selling – some will lend themselves better to this medium. I see smaller and specialty apparel retailers taking to this format first.

Camille P. Schuster, PhD.
BrainTrust

I think livestream shopping can be popular as occasional special events but not as an everyday shopping activity. First, creating interesting, clever content is difficult to maintain as a constant activity. How many people get tired of hearing the news rehashed on 24/7 news channels, but immediately turn to those sources when there is breaking news? Second, when life returns to some version of normal, people will be very busy with many demands on their time so will be unable to spend as much time shopping online. When busy it is easier to go to sources that have products available when you have time to shop rather than having to catch the items when they are available live. Livestream activities can be one form of experiential retail activity but not a 24/7 activity.

Ryan Mathews
BrainTrust

Livestreaming is okay — at least as a niche approach, but other fashion and apparel retailers are going a step further by setting up FaceTime or Zoom meetings with customers where they digitally inspect everything in a person’s closet, ask questions about particular articles of clothing, and then make product recommendations. Ask yourself which you’d rather do — watch somebody selling you content digitally or giving you a one-on-one digital consultation?

Doug Garnett
BrainTrust

Livestreaming my be the streamed TV’s version of HSN, but we shouldn’t over-state the potential.

HSN in the U.S., for example, had a dedicated audience — those who purchase regularly — and make their money from it. At one point, this audience was 8 percent of the population — not bad but not a fad.

My guess is that China probably has similar situation — a lot of people have tested it once or twice but the sales are likely coming from a dedicated group. As Paula notes, it’s doubtful that these will be younger audiences.

Scott Norris
Guest

I’m seeing exciting use of this in the travel and food channels – I have recently gotten invitations to follow livestreams in a Tokyo fish market and also in a Moroccan bazaar, where the host and crew will facilitate purchases in real time. Guests can ask questions/have the camera look at items in detail via chat. Exciting times!

Lee Peterson
BrainTrust

Alibaba did $44 billion in live-streaming sales last year (LAST year). It’s hard to fathom why that hasn’t caught on here, especially when everything was shut down. Plus, when China/Alibaba went through Covid restrictions but did live streaming during them, in-store traffic came back at an 80% clip right away, which has obviously not been the case here. So again, let’s get it going, there’s gold in them thar hills!

David Adelman
BrainTrust

I believe there will be no stopping live streaming shopping. It’s taken hold in Asia years ago and will continue to grow in North America; what better way to gain market share and brand loyalty. Have influencers sell your products and communicate directly with the buyers!

People said the same thing about e-commerce and DTC companies, and look at us now! Granted, the pandemic accelerated the increase in online sales exponentially, but a recent study by Group M shows that 24% of all retail sales will be online by 2024.

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"Since two out of three Gen Zers have made a purchase on social media, livestreaming could captivate this lucrative, tech-savvy cohort."
"Until the technology usage and comfort level is there on both ends, I would expect livestreaming to grow rapidly but only with certain sectors targeting specific demographics."
"I think the TV model is much more suited to Boomers and maybe Gen X. I just don’t see it as something Millennials and Gen Z have the patience for."

Take Our Instant Poll

How likely is livestreaming to be part of mainstream shopping in the U.S. after the pandemic has passed?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...