Shop as You Stream—What is Live Stream Commerce?
Blending the best of both worlds—entertainment and instant purchasing—live stream commerce allows brands, retailers and digital platforms a new channel with tremendous scope for creating value.
The pandemic inadvertently transformed the retail space as physical shopping came to a screeching halt. Meanwhile, online shopping was missing a major feature: tactility. Live stream commerce emerged as a way to fill these gaps. Live commerce blends instant purchasing and audience participation through reaction buttons or a chat function. So, where did it begin and how is it going to help businesses in the years to come?
Where it All Began
In May 2016, the arrival of Taobao Live from Alibaba opened a new chapter in sales. The retail giant from China had pioneered a powerful new approach to online shopping: live streaming was linked up with an e-commerce store to allow viewers to watch and shop simultaneously.
Live commerce quickly affirmed itself as a fixture in sales campaigns for Singles’ Day—a major Chinese shopping event—and, more broadly, as a dependable digital tool for promoting sales and customer engagement. The first half an hour of Alibaba’s Singles’ Day presales campaign on Taobao Live in 2020 generated an impressive 7.5 billion USD in total transaction value.
How Does Livestream Commerce Create Value?
Live stream commerce can help retailers, marketplaces and brands primarily in two areas:
Live commerce is immersive and entertaining, keeping viewers engaged for longer. It also abridges the customer decision journeys from awareness to purchase. Tactics limited to time, such as one-off coupons can be applied to create a sense of urgency.
Improving Brand Appeal and Differentiation
When done right, live commerce enriches a brand’s appeal, which helps to draw in additional web traffic. It can bolster positioning among existing customers and attract new ones, particularly younger customers who are interested in innovative shopping experiences and formats.
Benefits of Live Stream Commerce
There are several benefits to live stream commerce.
Live shopping provides e-commerce companies with the opportunity to showcase their products and allow customers to purchase products in real time. It is also highly engaging—unlike online shopping where customers simply click and fill up their carts. On live videos, users can also leave comments and get their queries answered faster by the seller.
There’s also a matter of trust. Sellers can help customers with complaints and guide users through their purchasing journeys by flashing recommendations and reviews on the screen.
In live stream e-commerce, unlike online shopping experiences, tactility is still paramount to the shopping experience. Historically, e-commerce experiences did not allow for substantial interaction with the products. Customers prefer the sense of touch and live stream shopping has translated that a bit differently in the digital world.
Unlike other online shopping adventures, live commerce allows customers to virtually “touch” what they wish to buy. Tactility is important—customers want to see the products from various angles, stretch them and test them. Live stream provides this experience online. A knowledgeable salesperson or host can interact with the product in the same way as they would in a brick-and-mortar shop. Consequently, the customer gets an almost realistic tactile experience.
Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping by Paco Underhill is still relevant today. Underhill, in his book, states that humans touch things four times before committing to the purchase. While the pandemic confined everyone at home, the desire to interact with products tactically never went away. Therefore, customers discovered a new way to engage vicariously through a salesperson on the other end of the screen.
How To Start
For anyone who wants to engage with their customers through live commerce, the transition is not monumental. If the store has a counter, connected to the internet, employees and the correct gadgets, they are ready to live stream!
The thing that’s an absolute must is an e-commerce strategy for combining live stream shopping into your business to tap into this booming market.
What’s Next For Livestream Commerce?
Live commerce has boosted companies in China and much of Asia, and right now, it’s making its way into the United States and Europe. Some pioneers have accomplished remarkable impact and reach with live stream commerce. Others wanting to follow their example will need to move fast to design their own experiments to get the most out of this dynamic new channel.