The Era of Livestream is Now
The very nature of the modern e-commerce market means brands have to constantly evolve to meet the expectations of savvy consumers who want shopping to feel like an experience, not just a transaction.
Now there’s a seismic shift on the horizon that could shake things up more than ever. Livestreaming e-commerce, estimated to already be worth more than $60 billion annually, is fast becoming mainstream — and even the most agile commerce brands need to get ready.
What’s Livestreaming E-Commerce?
Think QVC, but in 2021 (in other words, with influencers). Livestreaming e-commerce combines streaming video, social media and celebrity into a cutting-edge shopping experience that’s already taken China — a nation known for being ahead of the game on e-commerce trends — by storm.
According to a recent study by Brightpearl, which powers the operations of some of the biggest online brands, one in five U.S. shoppers have watched or participated in a livestream shopping event in the past 12 months, and 86 percent would like to see more retailers offering livestream shopping.
The trend continues to grow quickly in the U.S., with livestreaming platforms such as TalkShopLive and Brandlive reporting skyrocketing sales. The biggest e-commerce players of all — Amazon.com and Facebook — have also invested heavily to roll out live selling features.
It’s a trend that’s here to stay — and set to shape the future of selling online.
How Can E-Commerce Brands Adapt?
We asked top industry experts for their take on livestreaming e-commerce: Why is it so hot right now? How will it shape the future of e-commerce? And how can e-commerce brands get on board?
Here’s what they said:
Cate Trotter, Head of Trends, Insider Trends
“There’s no doubt that livestream commerce is gaining traction, whether it’s broadcasting to a wide audience or connecting a single customer to a sales assistant for personal support.
“A lot of companies started trialing livestream commerce as a result of the pandemic, but the results are so good that they’re not going to go back.
“For instance, Swedish live video shopping platform Bambuser reports average session times of 13 minutes, which is three times longer than the typical e-commerce website session. What’s more, Bambuser customer Kjell & Company revealed that one live show generated as many sales as a store achieves in two weeks.
“Increasingly, we’re seeing brands putting livestream capabilities into their stores — as with Beautycounter in the U.S. Not only does this add a sense of theatre to the physical retail experience, it’s also a way to make better use of staff in quiet periods.
“At Insider Trends, we see livestream commerce as sparking a wider shift in what retailers look for when recruiting store staff. Presentation skills and the ability to engage comfortably in front of the camera are going to be highly sought after in the future.”
Nicole Leinbach Reyhle, Founder, Retail Minded
“Shopping has always been an engaging, entertainment opportunity for many consumers and brands alike. From social selling platforms, such as CommentSold, to social media influencers using their platforms to promote and sell products via video, the rise of video selling is understandably hot right now.
“It's both convenient to consumers and brands, as well as accessible 24/7. When you also factor in that the average social media user scrolls through nearly 300 feet of social media pages a day, livestream commerce becomes even more exciting.
“It offers users a reason to hit pause in their social media streams and enjoy an interactive experience with some of their favorite influencers and brands.”
Andrew Busby, Founder and CEO, Retail Reflections
"The pandemic has changed many aspects of our lives, perhaps irreversibly, and one thing which is proving to be both popular and beneficial for retailers and customers alike is gaining traction: livestream commerce.
“Take one store, a smartphone and some on-camera enthusiasm and instantly that store is brought to life for an online audience. Add in the facility to interact and take payments, and the store becomes the stage upon which you can act out your favorite scenes.
“This explains why livestream commerce is becoming more and more popular, both in the U.K. and in the U.S. Companies such as Oktium offer the ability to connect stores with experts so that the customer gains access to the product from the comfort of their own home.
“The significance of all this shouldn't be underestimated. According to research conducted by the ONS/Mintel, 35 percent of us will remain cautious about entering premises even after all restrictions have been lifted.
“And in the new post-pandemic world, bringing the store and the product to where the customer happens to be, on their terms, is going to become critical in winning new customers — and retaining existing ones".
Ready, Steady, Livestream
With so much of the future of retail unclear, one thing is certain: livestreaming isn’t just a fad.
Forward-thinking brands must take action now to prepare the back and front ends of the business for the latest and most promising leap in e-commerce.
Mark Hook is the global communications director at Brightpearl, an operating system for retailers and wholesalers with a clear mission to automate the back office so merchants can spend their time and money growing the business.
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