Today, brands and consumers are surfing a radically shifting retail landscape, thanks to the pandemic’s impact on the economy, business, and consumer behavior. As the open web era continues to be defined, one thing is clear: consumers are looking for richer experiences from brands that offer safety, convenience, and delight.
Firework’s head of Commerce & Partnerships, Eva Wang, recently participated in the CPG guys podcast to talk about the fundamental changes happening globally to the retail ecosystem and how its key players, the brand and the consumer, interact in newer, unique ways.
This article combs excerpts from Eva’s podcast to explore the future of retail and how live streaming and video-powered experiences are revolutionizing digital customer experience. To listen to Eva’s podcast, please click here.
Video as a content medium has taken over the consciousness of consumers, thanks to the proliferation of social media platforms and short video platforms. The pandemic accelerated the popularity of video as consumers spent more time online on their devices, giving rise to newer consumer behaviors and habits.
In China, live commerce is already the most impactful form of E-Commerce, as its market size inches closer to the 600 billion US$ mark by the end of 2022. Powered by live-streaming technology, consumer apps have redefined customer experience for online shopping and the future of retail by making highly intuitive, easy-to-use solutions that work effectively.
The scale of live streaming’s application in China is staggering, as consumers of all ages are using it. Eva mentions her grandmother teaching her to use live streaming to order food online. It turns out to be an incredibly easy-to-use seamless experience becoming an eye-opener for her, as global retail experiences are far off from reaching this level of ease and adoption.
The high adoption of live stream shopping and shoppable videos in China isn’t surprising. The product-market fit and the consumerization of the technology have made it easy for people to get started. The convenience that live shopping brings is a testament to the growth and success of live commerce in China, which is now the status quo medium of online retail.
Building engaging customer experiences for the future
Online retail differs significantly in the US, where brands create horizontal video content and host it on social platforms with captive audiences, away from their websites.
The growth of TikTok & Reels reflects the demand for short-form, vertical video content, especially by Gen Z & Millennials. Short videos are viral.
Brands understand the power of video in the purchase decision process and host video content on ‘walled gardens’ such as social media. The problem? Social media is custom-built for entertainment, not commerce. Brands expect an impulse-based conversion.
Data suggests that only 4% of eCommerce conversions happen on social media. 96% of transactions are still happening on websites.
Currently, there is a platform difference between the point of first impression and transaction. Brands expose prospective consumers to a cluttered social media video experience to invite traffic to their old-school, two-dimensional photo and text-based E-Commerce website. There is a huge disconnect here because the actual purchase intent point is the website, devoid of the immersive, video-powered live commerce experience.
Firework solves this problem effectively for top retail brands by transforming their retail website into a video-powered live shopping experience for the Web 3.0 era. Customers get to experience a powerful new shopping experience online, fuelled by their favorite media format, video.
In 2021 alone, Firework surpassed 1.3 billion video views and over 700 million page views, ushering in a new era of customer experience for modern consumer brands.
Retail brands should focus on empowering their commerce touchpoints with an experience that consumers prefer, which is short-form, live videos with an integrated shopping ability.
Powering Industry Champions
The concept of digital customer engagement is fluid, and it stems from the constantly evolving consumer behavior trends. With the rise of short-form, swipeable video content, visual storytelling, and live format, Firework is helping brands re-create social media’s high-immersion, TikTok style engagement experiences.
Firework’s partnership with retail giant Albertsons is a significant testament to the promise of live streaming commerce as the future of retail.
Grocery shopping has always been a chore that many people despise for various reasons. It’s not exciting and lacks the experiential element of luxury shopping, for example, with its bells and whistles.
After the pandemic, however, offline grocery grew massively and has since become a permanent fixture for many consumers seeking convenience. In the era of quick commerce and comfort, the shopping experience was due for an overhaul – Albertsons saw the opportunity and pioneered a new way for consumers to buy their groceries – with live streaming, shoppable videos, and web stories!
Powered by Firework, Albertsons is deftly using vertical, short videos to elevate the everyday online shopping experience to a visual storytelling masterpiece.
Consumers can watch high-quality, mobile-optimized video content like recipes, product showcases, and demonstrations to get inspired and shop more effectively, bringing the fun back to grocery shopping!
With Japanese retail major MUJI, Firework’s live commerce platform came as an enabler to bridge the gap between physical and digital experiences. The brand effectively leveraged its retail storefronts and employees to create live streams and delivered a ‘truly ‘phygital’ experience during the pandemic.
The result was an increase in footfalls in their stores after live stream events, which shows the power of live shopping on the consumer psyche that craves more fulfilling experiences. Firework’s implementation is an omnichannel engagement experience that is helping MUJI create more digital and physical demand for their products via live streams and shoppable video content.
Challenges in the way ahead with Live Stream Shopping
Many people feel that the success of live streaming commerce is hinged on leveraging top influencers. China has already gone ahead and proven that theory wrong by constantly using micro-influencers, actual employees, and salespeople in their most successful live streams.
Recent surveys have shown that Gen Z and Millennials don’t trust ads and sponsored content. Brands often misuse top influencers, making the resulting content feel very inorganic and disconnected from the target audience. Today, consumers seek real, wholesome experiences that make sense and add real value.
This is why micro-influencers → KOL’s (key opinion leaders) and knowledgeable salespeople from brands are the right choices for engaging live streams. They are cost-effective, scalable, and highly believable by the larger audience because their content is organic and considered valuable.
For example, we tried out the same model in our 1010 live stream shopping event associated with Coresight Research.
Twenty-five retail brands participated in the live stream shopping event, generating 350k live viewers with exceptional engagement and conversion metrics across the board. Actual brand employees and owners ran the live stream, resulting in high-quality, authentic content that the viewers loved.
Solving The Biggest Problems
Right now, brands are struggling to engage with digital-first consumers and also extract high-quality feedback. Businesses are plagued by supply chain disruptions and dwindling customer attention.
With Firework, brands get access to a robust platform of products and services that brings:
- Industry-leading live streaming and shoppable video technology
- Seamless integration with complex websites and brand ecosystems
- Low-latency enterprise-grade solution that works efficiently in different situations
- A publisher network that opens up a host of targeting and branding opportunities
- Content distribution capabilities that help brands acquire the right audience effectively
Beyond the noticeable technological advancements that the platform offers, Firework empowers brands to take advantage of the platform by creating highly immersive live shopping experiences. With our in-house creative production services, brands with no prior experience creating live streams can get complete support to execute with high impact and efficiency.
All of these reasons make Firework a one-stop solution for retail enterprise companies looking for answers to the digital transformation challenges that lay ahead.
There are over a billion websites currently in existence, and the majority of them are text-laden, offering a singular, repetitive experience that falls flat. The future of retail and online shopping is creating omnichannel, video-powered experiences that bridge the time gap between first impressions and actual conversion.
With Live Commerce, brands can create stunning immersive experiences on their websites that offer a full-funnel solution, right from first impression to customer loyalty.