Livestream shopping is an e-commerce marketing strategy that sees a host — often a celebrity or an influencer — promote products via a live video stream.
Also called live shopping, it’s essentially the 21st-century answer to home shopping channels. But with all the action taking place on digital platforms, the opportunities for interaction and engagement increase substantially.
If you’ve read anything about livestream shopping before, you’ll undoubtedly have seen it described as the “next big thing.” It’s already huge in Asia, with a 2020 survey revealing that two-thirds of Chinese consumers had made livestream purchases in the previous year. And it’s quickly gaining popularity in the US, where Coresight Research expects the livestreaming e-commerce market to be worth $25 billion by 2023.
In other words, it’s already too big for retailers to ignore — and it’s only going to get bigger.
Not sure how livestream shopping fits into your marketing plans? Check out these ten examples from brands that are already leveraging the power of shoppable video streaming:
1. JCPenney: Theme Your Event (& Host)
Livestream shopping isn’t about bombarding viewers with as many different products as possible in the hope they’ll buy something.
Instead, it’s about creating something that people want to watch. Get it right, and viewers will naturally buy because that’s why they chose to attend in the first place. According to McKinsey & Company, live-streamed events are seeing conversion rates of almost 30%, well above traditional e-commerce strategies.
Creating a compelling livestream shopping experience involves choosing a theme for each “event” and then creating shoppable content around that theme.
JCPenney takes things a step further by using the theme to define its choice of influencer collaborations too. A revolving cast of influencers hosts its JCPLive sessions, each of whom is an expert on the topic.
So you get affordable fashion influencer Aimee Huebner — AKA Planes & Pretty Things — hosting the brand’s last-minute holiday shopping haul stream…
…and Heather Brown from My Life Well Loved, who posts about healthy meal planning and living an active lifestyle, taking center stage to talk about activewear:
2. Aldo: Tap Into Complementary Audiences
Choosing influencer partnerships for your livestream shopping experience is about more than simply finding a subject matter expert and pointing a camera at them. You also need to be working with influencers whose audiences mesh well with your brand.
After all, every influencer has their own audience. There’s a good chance some of them will tune into your live stream — and that many of those viewers won’t be familiar with your brand. At the very least, you want them to be the right fit for your products or services.
Aldo got this right by teaming up with celebrity stylist Mimi Cuttrell and TikToker Nate Wyatt for its first-ever live shopping event. Viewers could browse Aldo’s spring 2021 catalog while watching as Cuttrell and Wyatt showed off their favorite Aldo products.
With the event seeing an engagement rate of 308%, driving around 17,000 page views on Aldo’s website, it’s clear that the brand, influencers, and the audience were an ideal match.
3. Quivr: Choose Your Platform Wisely
Like there are dozens of social media platforms, there are many different ways to “do” livestream shopping.
Each has strengths and weaknesses, and each has its audience. Therefore, picking the right platform is crucial for the live shopping equation.
Coffee and tea-maker Quivr ran its first live stream back in 2020 and has experimented with events on Instagram and TikTok before eventually settling on Amazon Live.
Co-founder Ash Crawford told CNBC that Amazon won through because (he feels) its audience is better qualified than other platforms. When people visit Amazon, they’re typically in the buying mood, whereas Instagram and TikTok are more about entertainment.
Still, Amazon might not be the right fit for you. Try out multiple platforms and stick with the one that delivers the best results.
4. KitKat Chocolatory Australia: Align Live Shopping With Your Wider Marketing Strategy
It’s highly doubtful that livestream shopping will be your only marketing activity. It needs to gel with your broader strategy for the best results — otherwise, you risk diverting valuable time and resources away from what works.
KitKat demonstrated that a livestream shopping event could be a natural fit for a paid social media campaign to drive online sales and visits to physical stores in Melbourne and Sydney.
Branded content, dynamic ads, and polls compelled viewers to buy online or in-store. At the same time, a Facebook livestream urged shoppers to purchase via Comment to Message, which uses comments within the stream to trigger Facebook Messenger conversations.
The campaign generated more than one-third of KitKat Chocolatory Australia’s annual sales, and it also delivered a 23-point uplift in brand awareness among 35 to 44-year-olds in Australia.
5. NYX: Tap Into Audience Trends
Just as it’s important to choose the right influencers for your livestream shopping events, it’s also helpful to tap into trends that resonate with your audience.
Cosmetics brand NYX is a case in point. It realized that its audience — primarily Gen-Z and Millennials — felt an affinity with the 1990s and 2000s, so it hosted a throwback event on short-form video platform Triller featuring early noughties pop stars Lance Bass, Brandy, and JoJo.
The event saw the three celebs attempt to recreate their own noughties looks using items from the NYX fall 2021 collection, while a buy now button directed viewers to the relevant category page on the NYX website.
6. Nordstrom: Don’t Forget Your Content Strategy
Like livestream shopping should align with your broader marketing objectives, it should also tie into your existing content strategy.
Nordstrom clearly understands this. The department store chain unveiled a dedicated live shopping channel in March 2021 and has hosted dozens of shoppable video events with titles that could work equally well as blogs or social posts.
Since then, the channel has hosted dozens of live shopping events, with themes like:
- Magic skincare secrets
- Quick and easy holiday gifts
- Holiday glam-up
Nordstrom sticks with topics that its audience loves, making it more likely to see positive results.
7. CAIA Cosmetics: Set Clear Goals
How do you know if your foray into livestream shopping has been a success?
Gauging performance is all about setting clear goals and KPIs upfront. Forecast your numbers, run the event, then see whether you exceeded expectations or fell short. It’s the only way to understand whether live shopping is worth the time and investment for your brand.
As with most brands, CAIA Cosmetics sees livestream shopping as a way to drive conversions.
According to mobile streaming software company Bambuser, its live tutorials — hosted by CAIA founder Bianca Ingrosso — have an average viewing time of 11 minutes, with 60% of viewers hitting “like.”
More importantly, its first-ever live stream achieved a 5% conversion rate, exceeding the average performance of its website. That gave CAIA the confidence to make livestream shopping a regular part of its marketing mix.
8. Kiehl’s: Promote Your Live Stream In Advance
Promotion is key to the success of your live shopping event. On a basic level, it’ll drive attendance, and it’ll also help you drum up excitement and get people in the buying mood.
Beauty brand Kiehl’s ran a series of in-feed and Stories ads to raise awareness of its Instagram Live shopping events, led by its beauty advisers.
It generated additional attention and engagement through interactive games and quizzes on Kiehl’s website. It also offered limited-edition travel sets and skin consultations for those who signed up for the event.
All that promotional activity paid dividends, with the brand enjoying an 8X return on ad spend. What’s more, half of the new customers it sold to in the first half of 2021 came via the campaign.
9. Bloomingdale’s: Make Live Shopping Feel Like An Event
Live shopping is supposed to feel exciting. If it doesn’t, you might as well just run a flash sale.
For Bloomingdale’s, which has hosted more than 50 livestream shopping sessions, it’s important that each one feels like an event.
In one of those events, presented by the brand’s creative director Jimmy Choo, the brand sent macaroons and cocktails to early registrants to enjoy while watching the stream. That feels more like attending an awards ceremony than watching a home shopping channel.
Furthermore, the brand entered each attendee into a special giveaway: the first 50 customers to buy a pair of Jimmy Choos received a personalized fashion sketch.
10. Petco: Make It Fun!
Part of what made home shopping channels so popular back in the 1980s was the lack of other entertainment options. With only a couple dozen other cable channels to compete with, they were pretty much guaranteed a captive audience.
That’s simply not the case today. With dozens of streaming services, hundreds of channels, and many social networks and websites at our fingertips, we’re practically overwhelmed by choice. So if your live streams aren’t fun to watch, don’t expect people to tune in or stick around.
Petco realized this, so it hosted a pet adoption livestream featuring a canine fashion show. It worked better than anyone expected, with a million people logging on and the event generating twice the value in sales than it took to organize.
More importantly, all the doggy models got adopted after the show!
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