Live Shopping Is The Right Format, It’s Just In The Wrong Place

Vincent Yang

Over the last few days, we’ve seen news questioning the viability of live shopping as an approach for brands, explicitly calling out that Western markets are not primed to adopt live shopping. We’re seeing a divergence where brands are no longer meeting consumer expectations, and all that is about to change. 

We’re Missing The Point

The news missed the reality that consumers are live shopping at scale. In China, live shopping is projected to account for $480BN in 2022, with compound annual growth rates of close to 100%. The U.S. is growing faster as a projected $11BN industry today will top $25BN next year. Why? Because live shopping works!

But why has adoption been so slow in the U.S? There are several reasons, including the reality that social media sites were not built for shopping, but that’s where brands have chosen to invest their efforts to this point. The consumer simply doesn’t have access to the right experience.

Today, we’re in an incredibly complex consumer environment with supply chain challenges, rising customer acquisition costs (to the point where performance media is showing a negative return), reduced loyalty, shrinking margins, and a continued growth expectation. Now imagine I gave you a crystal ball that showed you that the future of commerce would be live. Would you take the leap?

Shopping has changed

When you walk into a physical store, how often are you greeted by a celebrity pushing you a specific product with a highly manufactured talk track? How often do you walk around a store with not a single store associate to be found? How often are the shelves lined with static images with limited context about the products?

Shopping by its very nature is an interactive, social exercise but shopping online lacks that human connection. Consumers are looking for that connection, it’s why companies like Walmart are doubling down on their stores. 

Live Shopping Connects Us

Live shopping done right offers that human connection online. This has been proven in developed markets where people actively seek out Livestream shopping as a form of entertainment and community. But who consumers choose to connect with (the person hosting the Livestream) and where they connect (the places where they’re in a shopping mindset) matters more than what they are selling or who they are selling on behalf of. 

There is undoubtedly a place in our world for celebrities and influencers. Still, live shopping done right takes the everyday consumer or store associate and turns them into the spokesperson – with no extra work needed, they’ll gladly do it. The authenticity of someone who genuinely cares about the brand shines when conversations start this way. And it does it where people shop; not on TikTok or YouTube or Facebook, but real eCommerce sites.

Our partner’s approaches constantly inspire me to form a more authentic relationship with their customers through video. From Kevin Miller’s approach with The Fresh Market of celebrating store associates to Olaplex’s CEO JuE Wong showcasing how to use her favorite product to Brandon Stark’s Bulletproof 360 activation featuring customer testimonials, live shopping done right creates moments of inspiration because it’s coming from voices you trust. 

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Live Shopping Can Drive Real ROI

But most importantly, the economics from the above works, and it can drive real ROI. Brands don’t need to produce highly curated content experiences to attract attention; they simply need a pipeline of brand-safe content from the employees, customers, and ambassadors closest to the brand. We’ve seen conversion rate increases by 100% and solid ROI with live shopping. And when live shopping is anchored on a brand’s website, they get value beyond initial sales because they benefit from all of the customer data that can inform future engagement strategies.

An Old Home For Commerce

I don’t go to a concert, restaurant, or movie theater to buy shoes. I don’t turn on the TV with the intent to buy groceries. And I don’t scroll through entertaining videos hoping you’ll sell me a car. The movie theater or TikTok is absolutely points of shopping influence – especially TikTok at its incredible scale. Still, they’re not built for shopping, nor is the user experience designed for shopping. 

Imagine going to a physical store and seeing a sign that read, ‘go to the movie theater to shop our assortment.’ ECommerce brands are telling customers today with their current approach to live shopping. It’s time to bring customers back to your store.

When a consumer visits your eCommerce store or an online bank or a car dealership or a hotel website, they’re in the right mindset to shop, and that’s where brands have the choice; they can have a conversation with that consumer, or they can give them the ‘silent treatment’ choosing to show them static imagery and text. 

Live shopping works best when it’s part of the actual shopping experience, built into the places where people shop. And that’s why I am so excited about Firework’s prospects because we combine the best parts of short-form video, content, Livestream technology, and commerce into owned and operated sites. Simply put, Firework has built the first live shopping platform specifically designed for eCommerce sites and apps – live shopping where people shop

Summary

While I am confident that we have reached a tipping point in consumer adoption of live and video commerce, it’s time for a reset in our approach to offer them what they’re looking for. We need to refocus our efforts on:

  • Efficient, ‘always-on’ content with real people, not celebrities
  • Video embedded as part of the overall shopping experience on actual eCommerce sites
  • Data owned by the retailer, not by a 3rd party

Live shopping is the correct format, and it’s just in the wrong place today.

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