Challenge 6 Livestream Shopping Myths to Win in E-Commerce
Is 2022 the year consumers choose authentic connections over utilitarian transactions? I’m betting on “Yes.”
The global pandemic changed e-commerce permanently, especially in the ways consumers want to interact with the brands they shop. Consumers are craving authentic digital engagements and content, and they’re increasingly seeking them beyond the utilitarian confines of popular centralized online marketplaces like Amazon.com.
In a recent report, Coresight Research identified livestreaming e-commerce as a robust opportunity for brands and retailers to satisfy this rising consumer demand for authentic connections with the companies they patronize. The firm has estimated the U.S. livestream e-commerce market will hit $17 billion in 2022, totaling 54.5 percent more than 2021’s estimated $11 billion.
Opportunities abound for brands and retailers with the ambition to pioneer livestream shopping strategies. However, to win at this nascent approach to e-commerce, leaders must know the facts behind six common myths about livestreaming.
Myth No. 1: Centralized live-shopping marketplaces dominate the livestreaming e-commerce space.
It turns out that consumers aren’t all that engaged with shoppable livestream video on centralized marketplaces like Amazon Live, Amazon’s live-shopping channel. And newer, less Amazon-sized live-shopping marketplaces haven’t gained much traction, either. Similarweb reports drops in traffic and jumps in bounce rate for ShopShops and TalkShopLive in Q4 of 2021.
Rather than settle for abysmal livestream engagement on centralized, shared marketplaces, brands and retailers should host livestreams from their owned websites. Why rent customers from the Amazons of the world when you can own the customer and the customer journey?
Retailers can still tap social media platforms to drive audiences to their sites, but must make their own websites the foundation of their livestream strategies.
Myth No. 2: Producing live video takes the same amount of effort as a slickly produced TV spot.
The technical requirements for livestreaming are easy to attain. All that’s needed to get started is a smartphone, good lighting and user-friendly software. Neither the equipment nor video quality needs to reflect those of professional production studios. These days, viewers prioritize content and connections in livestreams over top-quality production value. For shoppers, the opportunity to get authentic insight about a product from a video host is akin to hearing a recommendation from a trusted friend.
By showing a product, describing what the product experience is like and talking about the value they derive from it, hosts of e-commerce livestreams cultivate an emotional connection between themselves, the brand and viewers. When it comes to engaging audiences, retailers can’t lose sight of the “entertainment” component of shoppable livestreams ("shoppertainment"). Brands should keep a pulse on TikTok and Instagram influencers to learn what makes their content engaging and appealing.
Myth No. 3: Social media broadcasts will drive conversions.
Three major obstacles block brands and retailers from driving meaningful sales via social media channels: social media platforms lack seamless checkout functionality, have limited-at-best data tracking, and bring in lower return on investment on display ads.
Though some social media platforms are improving their live shopping capabilities, selling on social media still requires minimum ad spend and integrations. An end-to-end platform originating from the retailer or brand’s website, where intent to buy is highest, is proving to drive far higher conversion and solidifies the foundation of an omnichannel marketing strategy.
Myth No. 4: Livestreaming is chiefly a tool to promote deals.
Do reps on store sales floors only engage in-person shoppers when there’s a sale? No! Why, then, would brands or retailers only connect with website visitors to promote deals? Brands and retailers should shake up their livestreaming strategies to reach beyond pricing and authentically connect with their viewers.
Shoppertainment and user-friendly purchase capability are a potent blend and an effective way to drive digital consumer engagement and conversion. Forty percent of shoppable livestream viewers say they engage to look for good deals, but 30 percent of viewers cite excitement, convenience, and a desire to discover and learn about new products as reasons they engage with livestreams. By giving product discovery equal airtime to the sale, brands and retailers can build relationships and gain loyal customers. And happy, loyal customers make for some of the best marketers a brand can find.
Myth No. 5: Investing in shills translates to sales.
Appearances by celebrities or social influencers do not always boost sales. They can, but they don’t always. Building authentic connections with consumers and trust in the brand is a healthier campaign target than a celebrity endorsement. Don’t underestimate the authenticity that store associates and brand teams bring to the customer relationship.
Brands and retailers should prioritize authenticity over clout. Shoppers trust and relate to genuine conversations and opinions from brand associates and product experts; virtual video assistance enhances their shopping experiences.
When retailers and brands do partner with known figures, it’s imperative to strategically align with influencers who can steer conversions and who have a fanbase that will engage and shop, not simply watch for entertainment.
Myth No. 6: Sales conversion is the only metric that matters.
Although a high sales volume is every seller’s ultimate goal, livestream provides other ripe opportunities. Brands and retailers can use viewer data, live viewer feedback and comments to learn about their customers, improve their offerings, and personalize the customer experience.
A troubling reality of selling through centralized online marketplaces is that brands and retailers don’t have access to so much of their sales and engagement data. In a centralized marketplace, critical information about customers, their preferences and behaviors is the property of the third-party platform. On a brand or retailer’s own property, that data is theirs, and that data contains deep and accurate consumer insights.
Customer-Centric Livestream Strategies: The Future of E-Commerce
To win in the e-commerce landscape that lies outside of centralized marketplaces, brands and retailers must adapt their e-commerce and marketing strategies to consumer behavior and preferences. And consumers are telling us: they prefer engaging, authentic livestream content, and they’re not finding that in utilitarian marketplaces.
That landscape beyond centralized platforms is only getting more competitive. It’s imperative that brands and retailers don’t fall for myths about this emerging space that offers so much potential.