Are shoppable livestreams the next wave of ecommerce innovation?

Brands looking to be at the intersection of shopping and entertainment are eyeing the opportunities of social ecommerce

The pandemic has accelerated the shift to online shopping, and with it has come innovative ways retailers and brands are connecting with consumers. Livestreaming is one of the growing new ways consumers can shop in real time while watching live videos.

Avionos digital strategy practice lead, Mousumi Behari, said that while big retailers are eyeing the opportunities with shoppable livestreams, newer brands looking to make an impact have a unique opportunity to test and build awareness in front of a wide audience.

“A brand could use several different influencers to hit different audiences and determine where their brand resonates best. Once they have that in place, they can revamp their strategy to take a more personal approach to the consumers their brand resonates best with and create a more personal one-to-one feel during the live-streaming experience,” Behari said.

In the US, Nordstrom and Macy have embraced shobbable streaming, while in China's livestreaming is well established thanks to quicker adoptiong of new ways of buying and Alibaba's successful push around the emerging commerce approach.

Behari said it all shows the market is ripe for ecommerce livestreaming to take off. "The pandemic has permanently shifted consumer habits, as well as where, when and how they choose to shop. As bigger brands, such as Amazon, get in on the livestreaming action, this adoption will only accelerate,” Behari said.

The rise of social ecommerce

Whether or not it’s part of a larger trend, it’s clear consumers are welcoming social platforms becoming more of an ecommerce environment. Next&Co head of organic search, John Vlasakakis, told CMO shoppable livestreams are growing in popularity because it eliminates a lot of the steps to find a specific product featured by a specific influencer.

“It provides immediate access for someone to purchase these items,” Vlasakakis said.

Vlasakakis believes that for brands, shoppable livestreams are an avenue that can really drive ROI from any social activities which traditionally haven't yielded hard ROI for brands previously.

“It is an excellent awareness and revenue opportunity at scale for brands to facilitate partnerships with the right people and drive these commercial outcomes,” he said.

Yet he cautioned it’s still early days. “Best practice is what I would call an evolving process. Brands and marketers need to be brave enough to enter into this and be willing to learn fast."

Related: Report: 10 digital commerce trends here to stay

Smartzer founder and CEO, Karoline Gross, told CMO the trend towards shoppable livestreams is part of the pandemic alongside changing shopping behaviours.

“It’s part of the rise of 'shoptainment' first mentioned by Connie Chan at Andreessen Horowitz in 2020, where shopping and entertainment are no longer separate activities, and are merging. We have already seen platforms like Instagram in the West introducing shoppability to some of the content formats. Even before the pandemic, live streaming started gaining popularity, and adding instant shoppability to this was just a natural next step,” Gross said.

In addition to livestreaming runway shows, established brands outside of China started experimenting with the idea of livestreaming in 2020 by running private Zoom sessions for a select group of customers where a designer would be discussing the latest collection for example. This would then be followed by an email with details about the featured items and links to shop. A local brand that has also capitalised on Zoom sessions and virtual engagement as part of the commerce experience during lockdown is beauty retailer, Mecca.

However, the shopping journey here can be long and a lot of conversion opportunities are missed. This trend has now quickly evolved into creating 'one-to-many' live shopping experiences where a live stream is directly shoppable.

Gross pointed to the ease of creating the livestream itself and that tools to add engaging shoppable elements to the livestreams are inexpensive. “Video is a very powerful way of communicating your brand story and showcasing products,"she said.

"However, creating beautiful campaign films can be expensive and therefore a limiting factor in the content creation process of a young brand. Whereas creating shoppable livestreams is a fantastic low-cost, high-impact way for up-and-coming brands to communicate about their products and build up content quickly."

Up next: How TikTok is bringing shoppable livestreaming to life, plus tips on embracing this new ecommerce channel

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