COVID-19 changed nearly every aspect of our lives. In a very real way, the past year’s pandemic has created a permanent shift in how we interact on a daily basis, even with common tasks like shopping.
In the world of shopping, physical channels came to a crashing halt or are limited to a slow crawl.
Consumers have been rushing to digital alternatives that meet their need for in-store shopping. One such trend that rose out of 2020 is the demand for livestream shopping.
As of March 2020, 560 million people were watching shopping livestreams in China, an increase of 126 million compared to the summer of 2019. In addition, China’s livestream commerce market reached $170 billion in 2020, up from $66 billion in 2019.
Think of China’s live-streamed shopping platforms as the intersection of QVC and TikTok. Anyone can be an influencer, offer fan discounts, and promote flash deals in real-time. Spanning across the globe, in the U.S., Amazon launched an in-house QVC platform — Amazon Live — in 2019, and Walmart tested influencer-driven live shopping on TikTok in December 2020.
For businesses looking to improve their eCommerce strategy, developing a digital experience that includes livestream shopping can put them ahead of the curve. More than simply a way to shop online, livestream eCommerce offers consumers a hybrid of in-person and online shopping.
In the following article, we will explore how livestreaming will influence the future of shopping and how businesses can use this eCommerce strategy as part of an omnichannel approach to converting more business in the year ahead.
Consumers Understand the Tools
In the past, many digital livestream eCommerce experiences required a stage of building awareness with consumers about how the new digitized world 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 are 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 year, Zoom, Hangouts, Teams, and more have become common activities. Even children have been conditioned through remote learning 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 2020, 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.
- Consumers still desire to touch products, to see them from different angles, stretch them, and test them out in a wholly tactile manner. Livestreaming makes it possible to provide this experience digitally. A knowledgeable host or sales member will interact with a product in the same way that a consumer might as they walk through a shop. The result is that 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 2020 confined us to our homes, our desire to interact with products tactically didn’t go away. However, consumers learned how to engage via another 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. There are still numerous items that consumers expect to get 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, there is a possibility to engage with consumers with an omnichannel approach that includes livestream commerce.
Digital Experience Can Cover the Gap for In-Person Shopping
The good news is that even when a product requires more interaction with a consumer than a simple click-to-cart, livestreaming can bridge that gap.
Think about it. We already do one-to-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 their 12-year-old daughter about the correct color of scrunchies
- A boyfriend frantically confirms with his girlfriend via the Marco Polo app that the face wash product she prefers is sulfate-free
- A friend livestreams with their 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 is simply a shift in who the trusted face and voice is behind the camera.
Making the Shift is Less Complicated Than You Think
For stores that want to engage with consumers through livestreaming, the shift is not that grand:
- You have a counter with stuff 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 the 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 utilizing this digitally assisted shopping methodology to gain a competitive edge.
Take Dengo, for example. This 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 chat systems, 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 remaining socially distant.
Additionally, Dengo turned its staff into chocolate experts who held livestream events, showcasing the quality of their chocolate, enticing customers sitting at home to purchase what otherwise may have been a forgotten product.
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: Get one created! 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 2020 took on many businesses. Be sure your eCommerce partner is helping you to 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 are awesome at holding hands. 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 on 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 and Magento Help Close the Gap
For businesses ready to test out livestream events and assisted shopping, Vaimo is here to help.
We will work with you to explore the option of using Magento. Magento already supports assisted shopping and is an eCommerce design that offers a true omnichannel experience. We can help you with Magento development, building out the right platform for your particular business.
Vaimo is full service, and we are happy to help beyond technology. Whether you are just now asking yourself, “how do you develop an eCommerce strategy?” or your existing strategy is falling flat, we can work with you to create a holistic plan for increasing revenue through intelligent eCommerce solutions.
At Vaimo, we are omnichannel pros. Since the inception of this methodology, we have been helping clients engage with their customers through a true omnichannel approach. We can help you learn more about building a seamless omnichannel experience for your clients, including the use of livestream shopping.
Livestream eCommerce truly is the future of shopping. Soon, this will shift from a nice-to-have for businesses to a consumers-demand-it model. For businesses looking to add a competitive edge to their eCommerce strategy for 2021, livestream eCommerce is worth exploring.