Live Commerce vs. Reels: How to Build Meaningful Customer Relationships Through Live Video Commerce
“I know this is new for all of us,” said Melissa Garcia, a professional on-air stylist, as she led her first live selling event for women’s clothing retailer LOFT. Speaking with animated gestures, she wore a black, floral-patterned dress that matched one hanging up behind her. After greeting the audience, Garcia pulled the dress off the rack and held it up to the camera, showing off its sheer sleeves, lace details, and buttons before twirling around for a full view of the skirt.
Though this may have been LOFT’s first foray into live commerce, the format has been gaining popularity for a while now. This is especially true in Asia, where live shopping has ballooned into a $312.5 billion market.
With live sales, authenticity and interactivity are the primary draws. Throughout Garcia’s live selling event for LOFT, she actively conversed with the audience while highlighting product details on herself and store associates. Consumers find value in that personal connection and the ability to experience a product in real time, making live commerce an attractive strategy for independent and major chain retailers.
However, these long-form sales aren’t the only way retailers can connect with their audiences through video commerce. Meta, for example, has recently renewed its focus on the e-commerce capabilities of Reels, which are one-minute, looping videos available on Instagram and Facebook.
When choosing Reels as an e-commerce strategy, it’s important to remember why people watch Reels in the first place: to consume content. Given this, when brands create Reels content, they often strategically mirror other content their audience may be watching on the app. Retailers can find inspiration from brands such as Sephora, which showcases user-contributed videos of customers trying its products, and Everlane, which offers style advice in snappy, wordless segments where the brand's clothes “appear” on the model. The composition of Reels evoke the brand voice as much as the content itself.
While Reels can be a powerful tool to attract new customers, live selling offers retailers a more intimate, longer form setting to engage. By combining thorough demos with the interactivity of a Twitch chat, the format allows retailers to explain their products more extensively while directly answering customer questions, creating a forum for meaningful relationship-building. Customers want experiences that appeal to their lifestyles, and live selling gives retailers the stage to model that lifestyle organically.
Ideally, a live sale is a fast-paced, exciting experience akin to a virtual auction floor. Viewers can purchase items as soon as they’re shown and deliver real-time feedback via chat. But as the long form suggests, these live streams aren’t targeting casual scrollers. Rather, they’re appointment viewing. Retailers go live on a regular schedule much like a TV show, giving viewers something to look forward to and allowing retailers to use smart marketing to keep shoppers coming back for more.
Though Meta may have cut its live shopping capabilities to focus on Reels alone, the truth is retailers can make the most of both short- and long-form video commerce. While Reels are a strong content strategy to catch users’ attention and draw them in, live commerce is an increasingly effective way to build brand loyalty and drive sales.
Andrew Chen is the chief product officer of CommentSold, a live selling platform.
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