The feature has gained widespread popularity overseas recently, and with more companies adopting the concept, will it take off in the United States? Eight experts share their thoughts.
Shopping via livestream videos is gaining more attention. Wayfair earlier this month debuted the feature as a way to drive sales during its self-proclaimed holiday, Wayday. Amazon in February launched a livestream shopping feature called Amazon Live, which came two years after the e-commerce giant’s “Style Code Live” completed a one-year stint.
However, this isn’t a new concept by any means. Qurate’s QVC and HSN paved the way through their televised broadcasts, which have since expanded to online and mobile platforms. QVC in February also launched a mobile app with shoppable videos. Social media platforms threw their hats into the rink as well when Facebook Live last year began testing shoppable videos.
Livestream shopping has gained in popularity overseas, particularly in China. A 2018 Deloitte study found that live streaming would reach $4.4 billion in China, an 86% increase from 2016, and viewers would reach 456 million, the largest market for the medium.
It’s still early to tell if shoppable videos will have the same explosion in the U.S., but with Instagram-based shopping on the rise — Salesfloor this month rolled out SocialShop, a feature that allows store associates to create shoppable Instagram posts, and Instagram itself began beta testing in-app checkout last month — it’s certainly not out of the equation.
The discussion forum on RetailWire asked its BrainTrust panel of retail experts the following questions:
- Could livestream shopping generate strong appeal with U.S. consumers? How big a factor will influencers be?
- Should retailers and brands use established platforms or come up with their own?
Here are eight of the most provocative and insightful comments from the discussion. Comments have been edited by Retail Dive for length and clarity.
1. There’s ‘no reason’ this shouldn’t be very popular
Oliver Guy, Global Industry Director – Retail, Software AG: Given the prominence of TV shopping and the rise of Instagram-based shopping (and other social-based commerce) I see no reason why this should not be very popular — especially among Generation Z.
Using existing platforms makes a lot of sense to me as they have the audience and technology — although paying to get attention may cost quite a bit.
2. Incorporate other services and experiences into the path to purchase
David Weinand, Chief Customer Officer, Incisiv: As long as a strategy similar to China’s is followed (e.g. incorporating other services and experiences into the journey to buy), I see this as a very viable channel for the younger U.S. consumers. Although it seems that the influencer wave has waned just a bit, this could be a source of resurgence for that group.
3. ‘Livestreaming is the new Tupperware party’
Ben Ball, Senior Vice President, Dechert-Hampe: The appeal of livestream shopping may rest more with the individual micro-influencers than with the Wayfairs. My niece began livestreaming jewelry a few months ago and is doing pretty well with it. She got involved through what is essentially online MLM. Livestreaming is the new Tupperware party.
4. A new generation of QVC-like shoppers
Cynthia Holcomb, Founder and CEO, Prefeye, Preference Science Technologies Inc.: In the U.S. there is possibly a new generation of QVC-like shoppers in training. Facebook-like interactions between teens circa 2010. Teens and fashionistas with time to jump into spur-of-the-moment livestreams give traction to live influencer shopping. Be the one in the know of the latest and greatest. With all that being said, livestream shopping does flip the human interaction shopping paradigm. There is “something” at the core of shopping live using a mobile device, the “something” a gateway to new ways of thinking of how to virtually interact with product and design.
5. A way to build hype and anticipation
Cate Trotter, Head of Trends, Insider Trends: While QVC seems old fashioned, younger generations are avid social media users and with Snapchat/Instagram Stories/Facebook Live/Twitch and more all taking off it seems we’re still quite taken with watching videos/content — just not necessarily on TV (especially given how many of us second screen when watching the box now)! Factor in that we’re now shopping through social media and livestreaming seems like a natural progression.
There’s so many opportunities for brands around this — for example I love the idea of a company using livestreaming to give customers a sneak peek of new stock after hours as it arrives in stores. I think this would be a great way to build hype and anticipation by letting customers get a better idea of what a product looks like or how it works. They can also ask questions before they buy. Customers love feeling like they’re part of a special club or they know something everyone else doesn’t — by letting them see new products ahead of time brands could help stoke their want to buy.
6. Influencers could prove especially lucrative to retailers
Georganne Bender, Consumer Anthropologist, Kizer & Bender Speaking: Live streaming sounds a lot like watching QVC with your friends or attending a LuLaRoe party on Facebook. It will be fun for people who would rather look at their phones than attend a live party, and lucrative for retailers, especially when influencers are involved.
7. ‘Novel idea,’ but not the next big thing
Art Suriano, CEO, The TSi Company: I see livestream shopping as a novel idea, but I don’t see it becoming the next big thing. First, we don’t have the attention span in this country to be watching anything too long other than Netflix. Our society has become inundated with so many ways to find the items we want and how to buy them, and I see the average livestream participant losing interest quickly. Our culture prefers instant gratification so I see livestream shopping being more of a short-term fad that will catch on for some but not enough of an audience to make a huge impact.
8. Fun idea until it becomes too sales-oriented
Lee Kent, Principal, Your Retail Authority, LLC: I am sure live streaming will find its niche but I’m not seeing it as a big mainstream thing in this country. Fun for a while until it becomes too sales-y, which it is sure to become, and you know how much we hate having stuff pushed on us.