How to Nail a Live Shopping Experience in 3 Easy Steps
As we all know, the pandemic has dramatically accelerated e-commerce for businesses and consumers, changing the way we all shop. In fact, an estimate from McKinsey stated that 10 years of adoption was compressed into about three months. Now more than ever, it’s crucial that businesses large and small adapt to evolving consumer expectations and desires when it comes to shopping, allowing them to maximize sales and meet customers where they are.
One interesting sales strategy we’ve seen gain significant traction over the past year is live shopping, immersive shopping experiences that bring brands and customers closer together. Creating these engaging, real-time experiences is crucial. Our research shows that more than three-quarters of global consumers (78 percent) say that the shopping experience a company provides is as important as its products and services. Furthermore, Accenture recently forecasted that shopping on social media is reported to reach $1.2 trillion by 2025.
So what exactly is live shopping and how can small businesses and established brands leverage this strategy to drive success? Here are three keys to a successful live shopping experience.
An effective live shopping experience isn’t something that happens on a whim. It’s important to plan in advance to ensure everything goes smoothly, ultimately helping to maximize sales. For example, whether it's a small business or a well-known brand, one of the first things that should be done is identifying a host or influencer who will be presenting during the live shopping stream.
This person should be educated on the products they’ll be discussing, including arming them with responses for anticipated questions. That said, a host’s chief goal should be connecting with customers, helping them to understand more about the brand, its values and what makes it unique — rather than just pushing for sales. Think of him or her as a party host — someone who makes the live shopping stream fun, promotes conversation and really brings the experience to life. As with any social gathering, virtual or not, the group conversation is best when it’s authentic and inclusive, much like the most successful live shopping streams.
It's important to make sure product catalogs are up-to-date and that there's a clear point of view on what makes the brand or products being sold special. Take advantage of the unique opportunity live shopping provides to share more details about the brand or products that will build brand affinity or could compel consumers to purchase. With live shopping, you have the opportunity to move beyond the product display page. Help your customers understand more about the product. For example, describe how it feels or show it in action to make it feel more real to the customer. This also creates as close to an “in-store” experience as consumers will get with this new form of commerce.
Other factors to plan for include building in moments for community engagement. This can be done by scripting some questions to ask the audience throughout the presentation, making sure there's a genuine conversation happening. In doing this, make sure the host can see viewer comments so questions can be answered throughout the stream and it's a true dialogue. It may even make sense to have a second person on hand to reply to comments so that the host can focus on driving the presentation forward and so that everyone who is engaging feels seen and heard. Finally, I recommend creating a sense of urgency during the stream, whether it's a new collection, a special offer, limited inventory or something else. Having this component will encourage consumers to tune in and make purchases.
Of course, what good is a live shopping stream if no one is tuning in? That’s why promoting the stream in advance is so important. There are a variety of ways to do this, from creating Events on Facebook, having the host or influencer share details on his or her social channels, or setting up a regular cadence of live shopping content so consumers come to expect them on a consistent schedule.
Businesses should also tease live shopping in places where customers are already active, such as fan pages, email newsletters, Instagram or other channels — wherever engagement is highest. Offer a behind-the-scenes preview or a sneak peek at a new collection to drive interest and excitement. For example, Zox, a Los Angeles-based business offering unique wristbands, jewelry and apparel, teased its advent calendars in advance of its Black Friday livestream. The stream was so successful that Zox had completely sold out of the calendars within 24 hours of the event.
Businesses can also tap into advertising to promote live shopping streams before and after events. This serves to increase initial attendance while also boosting overall awareness and ensuring the content lives on even after the stream ends.
Test and Learn
Beyond educating customers, fostering stronger connections and providing an opportunity to drive sales, live shopping also can provide a useful mechanism to source valuable feedback on what products customers want more and less of.
For example, we’ve even seen brands use real-time voting to inform what products they should create next and in what styles or colors. Use quantitative (sales) and qualitative (comments and engagement) feedback to guide inventory decisions and the content of future live shopping streams.
Businesses can also test a variety of times for live shopping events and hosts to learn what resonates most with shoppers — using the insights to improve each time. For instance, Chris Johnson of Solo Stove, a wood-burning fireplace, bonfire and firepit company, shared that the brand was able to double its livestream views from 2020 to 2021, partially by adjusting its schedule — finding that end-of-week streams received the most viewers as their shelf life extended into the weekend.
It’s important to be patient with shoppers as they become more familiar and confident with this new experience. Take the time to explain what's being presented, how to engage with the host, and what to expect. Most importantly, make sure shoppers are getting educated on how they can check out and purchase via live shopping. Ultimately, the more a business hosts live shopping streams, the more beneficial they will become.
Live shopping is one way businesses large and small can drive sales and encourage real-time engagement with customers — something previously missing from the e-commerce experience. By planning, promoting, testing and learning, businesses will be able to master live shopping.
Kate Gronso is the business product marketing lead at Meta, which builds technologies that help people connect, find communities and grow businesses.