As online sales rapidly grow, shoppable features can make livestreaming the choice of consumers looking for an online shopping experience that is entertaining, social and interactive.
Livestreaming e-commerce is already the new hot trend in China. Is the US next?
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Why do brands livestream?
Brands use livestreaming to introduce new products, cover trends, offer tips, promote discounts, answer questions, give real-time reviews and more. It is an effective way to engage with potential customers, launch products, build trust, create value, and drive sales.
Livestreaming events can offer discounts for later purchases, but they can do more: allow shopping while watching.
The Covid-19 pandemic has seen an increase in livestreamed events by brands trying to reach their customers at home. Bloomingdale’s has hosted more than 50 such events during the pandemic, as reported by CNBC.
In a world under lockdown, shoppers were there to watch, engage and shop. Live streams offered an emotional connection and the closest experience to in-person shopping.
Livestreaming USA in numbers
CNBC reports the U.S. livestreaming market was worth about $6 billion in 2020 and could reach $11 billion by the end of this year, according to consumer market research group Coresight Research. It expects the market to eclipse $25 billion by 2023.
As big as the numbers are, the U.S. market is still far behind China.
What is livestreaming e-commerce?
Livestreaming e-commerce means promoting and selling products through influencers who broadcast video content in real-time while allowing for in-app browsing and purchases.
It enables you to follow, discover, engage, shop with an instant community of interested people who interact, chat, comment, and share.
Live-selling hosts can be big-time celebrities with large fan bases. They can also be micro-influencers, small business owners or employees. Technology enables them to create their own shopping channel that is also social and shoppable.
Think about watching your favorite artist live on social media and buying their outfit directly from there. Think also organic-looking content with your local boutique owner who models items for sale.
U.S. livestream shopping platforms
Online shopping in the U.S. is still very much the same experience as it used to be: you go on a website, click, and buy. Now add livestreamed video, social media, and celebrities – and you have a new experience.
It is already huge in China. Now companies, from big-tech to startups, are trying to turn it into a new revenue stream in America.
Amazon was early to adopt livestreaming with Amazon Live. It offers content and discounts with daily shows on makeup and clothes, fitness and cooking. Building on the Amazon platform, it lacked social influencers, and so Amazon is working to add micro-influencers to host livestreams.
Social media channels are joining in. We’ve looked at how social commerce is the new e-commerce as social media channels focus more on sales. Platforms like YouTube and Instagram already have both influencers and audiences. Now they need new features that allow customers to easily buy products from videos.
Instagram offers ways such as Shopping from Creators, enabling some creators to tag brand products in their posts and allowing users to shop straight from the app with Instagram Checkout.
But this is not all. Instagram now enables businesses and creators to tag products when they go live on Instagram. “Viewers will be able to buy or save products added to the shopping video”, explains Instagram. More social media platforms try it. TikTok, for example, has hosted shoppable livestream events with Walmart.
Brands are also catching up with the trend. Estee Lauder and L’Oreal have used livestreams. Recently, department store chain Nordstrom has announced its Livestream Shopping channel. The channel will host events that enable shopping and chatting.
New livestreaming startup platforms offer U.S. customers more ways for shopping live. Social shopping platform talkshoplive has celebrities on, but it is “for anyone, anywhere to sell almost anything!”.
Ntwrk is a mobile app that uses live shows to sell collectibles. It is reported that “some shows have topped $1 million in sales in less than 10 minutes.” Popshop Live, CommentSold and others launch new livestream shopping platforms.
They now face the double challenge of creating the digital capabilities while building an audience.
Challenges in the U.S.
Livestream shopping feels familiar, an evolution from QVC and HSN. For the evolution to take place, it needs technology. And it needs an audience.
Technology in China is highly advanced and supports live shopping. Customers on Alibaba can watch a livestream on their mobile phones, chat and make payments all at the same time. All with one click, without ever leaving the app. By comparison, entertainments, shopping and payments are not as seamless in America.
In addition, Chinese platforms have more ways to promote livestreaming e-commerce. Live shopping is easy to find with buttons on homepage and brand pages and even product pages on Tmall. The Chinese platforms also offer hosts more tools to make better videos and gain more data.
Currently, livestreaming e-commerce is more of a risk in the U.S. While livestreams in China are highly popular, it is not always easy for U.S. livestreams to draw a sizeable audience.
Still, shopping online, influencers, social networks – all these are changing the way we shop. As consumers, we look for new experiences and ways technology can enhance and streamline our online shopping experience.
Big tech companies, startups, and existing platforms are likely to develop integrated e-commerce, social, live platforms that will evolve into the American version of livestreaming e-commerce.
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WiserTip: Shoppable livestreaming is a new opportunity to drive sales. Take advantage of it while stopping counterfeiters from doing the same.