COVID-19 changed nearly every aspect of our lives. In a very real way, the pandemic caused a permanent shift in how we interact daily, even with common tasks like shopping.
In the realm of shopping, physical channels came to a crashing halt or slowed to a crawl.
Consumers have rushed to digital alternatives to fulfill their need for in-store shopping. “Livestream ecommerce” or live commerce for short, emerged in 2020 as a new trend and digital channel.
In China, live commerce has developed at a tremendous pace, with sales topping $171 billion in 2020, and an expected sales figure of $423 billion in 2022. To put this into perspective, China’s livestream ecommerce market burgeoned at a compound annual growth rate of over 280% between 2017 and 2020.
Think of China’s livestream shopping platforms as the intersection of QVC and TikTok. Anyone can be an influencer, offer fan discounts, and promote flash deals in real-time. During the pandemic lockdown, Chinese retailers livestreamed one-on-one consultations with customers as well as browsing in-store, while Shanghai Fashion Week was fully livestreamed on the shopping marketplace TaoBao for the past two years.
In the USA, Amazon launched an in-house QVC-style video shopping platform — Amazon Live. Like their Chinese counterparts, American shoppers increasingly rely on input from influencers for guidance on their purchases, and Amazon has put their vast network of influencers to use with the help of its new platform. Amazon used its Prime Day event to allow its influencers to livestream featured products and engage with shoppers. In 2020, retail giant Walmart tested influencer-driven live shopping on TikTok that drew 7 times more viewers than anticipated and grew its TikTok follower base by 25%.
It’s easy to imagine that big players such as Nespresso or Dollar General will follow suit; gift retailer 1-800-flowers.com announced the purchase of livestreaming platform Alice’s Table in January 2022.
In the same spirit, the metaverse promises to be the next interaction of the internet, with major tech companies such as Microsoft, Epic Games, Facebook (rebranded aptly as “Meta”), Apple, and more, all making moves to shape this new virtual landscape. Although an early concept, the metaverse promises to be an immersive, digital world that undoubtedly will easily merge with livestreaming.
For businesses looking to improve their ecommerce strategy, developing a digital experience that includes live commerce can drive them ahead of the curve. More than simply a way to shop online, livestream ecommerce offers consumers a thoroughly modern hybrid of in-person and online shopping.
As livestreaming will inevitably impact the landscape of shopping online, businesses can use this ecommerce strategy as part of an omnichannel approach to converting more sales in the year ahead.
Consumers Understand the Tools
In the past, many digital ecommerce experiences required a stage of building awareness with consumers about how the new digitized channel would work, as well as training aimed at building abilities around the use of new tools.
With livestream shopping, consumers already understand the tools necessary for engaging with your business. Think about all of the following digital tools that are now commonplace across almost all demographics:
- Youtube and Twitch: YouTube and Twitch have made it easy for anyone to stream what they’re doing live. From video gamers to stay-at-home moms selling products, these channels have made livestreaming accessible to all.
- Zoom and Hangouts: Over the past two years, Zoom, Hangouts, Teams, and more have become household names. Even children who attend school via remote learning know how to join meetings. The rise in the use of these tools makes it easy for anyone to join a livestream event.
- Phone Cameras: Gone are the days of purchasing an additional webcam to participate in video calls. Most cellphones and laptops are equipped with built-in cameras that enable consumers to engage remotely without an investment in new tools.
- FaceTime and Video Calls: FaceTime and video calls have been a staple for many years. However, throughout the past two years, these tools became an integral part of human connection.
- Lights, Webcams, Tripods, and More: Not only do most people have access to a camera on their phone or laptop, but an increasingly large number of consumers are equipped with lights, tripods, webcams, and other equipment designed to enhance streaming. This has also led to an increase in the number of people producing quality livestream experiences.
Tactility Doesn’t Cease to Matter; It Simply Shifts
One of the more interesting components of livestream ecommerce is that, unlike previous online shopping experiences, tactility is still central to the shopping adventure. One of the downfalls of ecommerce design experiences, historically, has been that they did not allow for tangible interaction with products. Tactility still has relevance for many goods, but how that tactility is translated in a digital world has simply shifted.
Unlike other online shopping experiences, live commerce allows consumers to virtually “touch” products while shopping. A consistent disadvantage of the ecommerce design experience has been the lack of tangible interaction with products. Tactility still holds relevance for many goods, and now, livestream ecommerce supports a truly satisfying digital tactile experience.
- Consumers still want to touch products, to see them from different angles, stretch them, and test them out in a wholly tactile manner. Livestreaming provides this experience digitally. A knowledgeable host or sales member can interact with a product in the same way that a consumer might as they walk through a shop. As a result, the consumer gets a near real-life experience of tactility.
- Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping by Paco Underhill still holds relevance in our digital world today. In his book, Underhill posits that we touch things four times before committing to the purchase. While the pandemic confined us to our homes, our desire to interact with products tactically didn’t go away. However, consumers learned how to engage vicariously through a person on the other side of a screen.
A good digital experience needs to focus on connecting a consumer’s desire to interact physically with a product via livestream interaction.
Specific Products Are Still Counter-Focused
Some products lend themselves to online shopping better than others. Consumers still expect to receive numerous items over-the-counter. Pastries, coffees, espressos, ice cream, and many other edible products are all items we expect to be handed after an in-person interaction.
However, even with these counter-focused products, it’s possible to engage with consumers through an omnichannel approach that includes live commerce.
Digital Experience Can Cover the Gap for In-Person Shopping
Even when a product requires more interaction with a consumer than a simple click-to-cart, live commerce can bridge the gap.
Think about it: We already engage in one-on-one, assisted livestream shopping. Consider the following real-life scenarios:
- A person FaceTimes their spouse about the specific type of toilet paper they were supposed to buy
- A mother video chats with her 12-year-old daughter about the right color of scrunchies
- A boyfriend confirms with his girlfriend via the Marco Polo app that the face wash product she prefers is sulfate-free
- A friend livestreams with a friend while shopping, asking for an opinion on a potential outfit purchase
The reality is that livestream-assisted shopping is already part of consumer behavior; it’s simply a shift in the trusted face and voice behind the camera.
Related reading: 5 Keys to Building an Exceptional Ecommerce Customer Experience
Making the Shift is Less Complicated Than You Think
For stores that want to engage with consumers through live commerce, the shift is not monumental. Try out livestream ecommerce if your store meets the following criteria:
- You have a counter with items in it or a display of goods
- You are connected to the internet in-store
- You have a camera and mic on your phone or other gadgets
- You or your employees are in-store
All it takes is an ecommerce strategy for integrating assisted livestream shopping into your business to tap into this thriving market.
Businesses Are Already Adapting
Livestreaming is booming in popularity worldwide, and many savvy business owners are using this digitally-assisted shopping methodology to gain a competitive edge.
For example, Dengo, a high-end chocolate manufacturer, adapted during COVID-19 to ensure that its customers would still receive outstanding customer service while remaining safe.
Using livestream and live chat, Dengo made it possible for customers to see and interact with sales staff while “browsing” the store. This virtual shopping experience allowed consumers to pick out their favorite chocolates, all while practicing social distancing.
Additionally, Dengo turned its staff into chocolate experts who held livestream events, showcased the quality of their chocolate, and enticed customers sitting at home to purchase what otherwise may have been a forgotten product.
Related reading: The New Way of Shopping
Key Challenges to Overcome
While livestreaming and assisted virtual shopping offer incredible opportunity, shifting to this ecommerce strategy isn’t without a set of challenges.
- Challenge 1: Your business doesn’t have an ecommerce website.
- Fix 1: Not having an ecommerce website is simply not an option in today’s remote world. At Vaimo, we can assist you in creating an ecommerce website with a customized design.
- Challenge 2: You are on an ecommerce platform that doesn’t support assisted shopping.
- Fix 2: In some cases, an ecommerce platform is not equipped to support assisted shopping. In such instances, it’s time to consider a better solution, such as Magento. This platform allows you to integrate multiple channels of shopping into one seamless tool.
- Challenge 3: Your ecommerce partner doesn’t bring these ideas to the table.
- Fix 3: If your ecommerce partner is not strategizing with you around livestream and assisted shopping, you need to pick a partner who will. Today’s market is highly competitive, and we have all seen the toll the pandemic took on many businesses. Be sure your eCommerce partner is helping you think outside the box.
- Challenge 4: You have the tools but aren’t comfortable going forward on your own.
- Fix 4: Vaimo is full-service, and we excel at guiding you every step of the way. Our help goes way beyond technology services. From creating an incredible digital experience to building you a data-driven strategy, all the way to helping you execute cutting-edge ideas, we are here to help you test out new ecommerce methodologies.
- Challenge 5: You have more customers than you can handle one-on-one.
- Fix 5: Perhaps you aren’t quite sure how livestreaming and assisted shopping would work for your business due to your high volume of customers. However, if there is a demand, customers will pay for it. Think about offering exclusive memberships or service fees for in-store assisted shopping.
Vaimo Helps Close the Gap
If you’re ready to test out livestream ecommerce, Vaimo is here to help.
Our team holds broad and diverse international experience with B2B, B2C, D2C, headless commerce, and omnichannel commerce solutions, and we are obsessed with using the latest digital trends to foster growth for our clients. We would like nothing more than to put all of our knowledge to work in ensuring the success of your business through a seamless operating solution tailored to your needs.
Vaimo’s full service offering means that we provide much more than technology. Whether you’re wondering how to develop an ecommerce strategy, or need help with a whole wish list of ideas, we can work with you to create a holistic plan for increasing revenue through intelligent ecommerce solutions.
As self-dubbed omnichannel pros, we’ve been helping our clients engage with their customers through a true omnichannel approach since the inception of this methodology. We’re happy to help you learn more about crafting a seamless omnichannel experience for your customers, including using livestream ecommerce in the most suitable way for your business.
Livestream ecommerce is the future of modern shopping. We predict that in the near future, it will become an integral part of digital commerce. If you’re looking to add a competitive edge to your ecommerce strategy, livestream ecommerce is worth exploring.
Contact us today to find out how you can implement live commerce into your ecommerce strategy!