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There is a ton of chatter around digital transformation currently, eclipsing every other term to become the numero uno buzzword in business. COVID’s monumental impact has led to permanent shifts in the consumer landscape that have greatly accelerated the digital transformation timeline for most companies, including retail eCommerce brands. 

Firework’s Global President and CBO, Jason Holland, recently participated in a special NRF(National Retail Federation) edition of The Omni Talk Spotlight podcast.

This article captures several critical insights from the discussion about how online retail is due for an urgent digital transformation to keep pace with next-gen customers. To listen to the full episode, you can check it out here

Understanding The Modern Consumer Landscape 

In the past decade, online shopping has seen massive growth, powering 768 billion US$ in online retail sales in 2021 and commanding almost 20% of total retail sales by 2023. Post-COVID, consumers have come to realize the massive convenience and safety that online shopping brings, fueling demand even further.

As the median consumer age gets younger, the GenZ consumers bring an entirely different set of beliefs and consumer behavior favoring short-form, live video.

Retail E-Commerce Revenue from 2017 – 2025 | Statista


Short-form videos and live streaming have become a rage, with younger consumers actively seeking experiences, not just products from brands.

The pandemic saw a sharp increase in consumption of short-form videos as entertainment-starved consumers made a beeline for quick, snackable video content on social media platforms. According to Coresight Research, the Live stream commerce market is expected to touch 25 billion US$ by 2025. 

Where do Retailers Stand Currently?

The swipeability, mobile optimization, and total immersion of short videos have become the de-facto engagement medium for consumers globally, and retailers are becoming aware of this change. 

Retail brands are still in the infancy stage of digital transformation, as most are still finding their footing in a mobile-first, online-first, video-first attention economy. 

The heavy dependency on walled gardens like social media platforms and search engines makes it difficult for brands to disrupt customer engagement. Brands struggle to justify ROI on walled gardens that offer low-intent traffic, lack of brand safety, distracting environment, and high operational costs. 

Brands are putting sizeable investments into creating horizontal videos on social media that fail to impact topline revenue and growth significantly. The customer experience is poor due to a reliance on deep discounting to acquire traffic. Social media shopping rarely converts into delightful brand experiences that trigger retention and loyalty. 

Retailers already have good traffic on their owned and operated assets – how can the power shift back to brands? 

97% of transactions continue to happen on E-Commerce websites compared to social media platforms. The answer to effective digital transformation is revolutionizing customer experience on retail websites with live, short-form video. 

Powered by Firework, iconic retail brands like Albertsons & The Fresh Market have elevated the online retail shopping experience with shoppable videos, short-form content, and live streaming. The brands have moved from a static to video-based interactive shopping experience, pioneering a retail transformation. 

Albertsons has created a ‘Pinterest for Food’ experience, improving engagement and conversion metrics across the board with beautiful, immersive video content. The video strategy drives a community-driven shopping experience delivering recipes, product bundles, brand showcases, and much more for food enthusiasts. 


Firework’s implementation for The Fresh Market accomplished a 39% increase in conversions, 25X improvement in CTR compared to digital banners, and over 4.2 million video engagements in a brief timeframe. 

The Live Commerce Solution For Retail

Short-form, live video is the way forward for building a future-ready, superior online retail experience. But how do brands get started with digital commerce transformation? 

Creating a shoppertainment experience can be split into four key phases: 

  • Step 1 – Integration  
  • Step 2 – Shoppable videos
  • Step 3 – Live streams
  • Step 4 – Retail media space 

The goal is to have all phases work in tandem to maximize the impact of live commerce compared to one-off execution on social media platforms that don’t return value. The shoppable videos and live streams struggle to acquire traffic and trigger conversions on closed-app ecosystems. 

Firework lets you convert your brand’s website into a social-media-inspired vertical video, live shopping experience with one line of code. 

  • Brands get access to patented technology offering super high-resolution, low latency streaming and integrated video shopping ability built to handle scale efficiently. 
  • Average engagement with a Facebook post: CTR – 0.8% | Firework – 4-5 %
  • Median reply rate on IG story: 0.02% | Firework – between 3 to 6%

Creating the video content →

  • Firework’s AI-enabled creation suite, Creation Studio, can intelligently convert long-form, horizontal content into short-form, mobile-optimized 30-second video content effectively. 
  • With Firework Creation Studio, creators can easily create vertical video content with a feature-loaded tool. 
  • Firework’s pre-existing short video content library consists of over 2 million videos ready for use for retail and DTC brands. 

Driving traffic →

  • Traffic acquisition is simplified by bringing together digital publishers to the Firework network (Hearst, Conde Nast, Group 9 Media, Evolve media).
  • With intelligent placements across publisher properties, retail brands can tap captive audiences with a highly immersive video experience powered by the Firework story block units. 
  • The shift from horizontal to vertical alignment creates a synthesis between digital publishing and retail and DTC brands to attract traffic from the right places all over the open web much more efficiently. 

Critical Insights About Retail’s Digital Transformation Journey

Across multiple conversations with retail brands, the following points stood out as top action items:

  1. Reduction of reliance on TikTok, IG + walled gardens (regaining control over the business + consumer growth drivers)
  2. Re-establishing control and transform digital retail experience by giving consumers what they prefer: entertaining experiences powered by video
  3. Creating better connections with the consumers — key to growth in the future, creating better platform + experiences
  4. Reducing marketing spending across walled gardens for discovery + conversions to own customer data (first-party data)
  5. Building a futuristic, scalable retail shopping experience powered by live streams

With Live Commerce, brands access rich, real-time customer data crucial to building personalized, high-impact experiences.

Example: A live stream viewer watches the stream for 8 minutes, engages >3 times with comments and reactions, adds a product to the cart, but doesn’t complete the transaction. 

The interoperability of data points across the board paints a detailed picture of user activity and helps brands build predictive personalization onto the shopping experience. On the back of solid execution, brands can create deeply fulfilling live shopping experiences and generate brand loyalty and retention much faster than traditional online shopping. 

If you are interested to find out how Firework can help your retail brand elevate the online shopping experience, then schedule a one-on-one consultation with our solutions expert now.

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