What is live shopping?
Tapping into video to increase sales is now a tried and tested method for retailers and brands, especially thanks to YouTube. Brands began leveraging influencers and creating their own content to reach YouTube’s vast user base and penetrate target demographics, decades ago. This then spread to other social media platforms, shifting their focus from purely photography or creative design, to adding in video to attract users’ attention. Think Instagram and Facebook reels, the infinitely popular TikTok.
And then live shopping (otherwise known as social commerce) came along. By combining entertainment with the pulling power of influencers, and then adding in the ability to buy a product, live shopping naturally plays into consumers’ desire for instant gratification. After all, as digital natives with some form of internet connected device close by (in our hands, on our laps, or around our wrists) we don’t necessarily go shopping anymore. We’re always shopping.
Is the live shopping sparkle already faltering?
Live shopping offers retailers, brands, and digital platforms a new channel with enormous scope for creating value. As such, all the major social platforms from TikTok, Youtube, Facebook and Instagram to Amazon have been trialling the feature, and brands of all shapes and sizes have been dipping their toes into the water.
However, a recent report from FT investigations revealed that TikTok Shop has failed to gain traction since launching in the UK last year. This is despite videos with the hashtag #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt boasting over 4.6 billion views, and counting.
In addition, Meta recently announced a plan to shut down Facebook’s live commerce shopping programme next month. Instagram also axed its affiliate commerce programme in August. It begs the question, is live shopping the future? Or are these regressions a sign we’ve been embroiled in another fad?
This is about the long-term play, live shopping is just too big to fail
Mark our words this is just a blip - the future of retail is live shopping. Efforts to bring it to the West have been challenging, but the Chinese market proves there is an opportunity. Live ecommerce sales in China are on track to reach $423bn this year.
In China, consumer behaviour is dramatically more advanced - according to Forrester 89% of adults buy on social media monthly or more frequently, compared with four in 10 in Europe and US. The UK, European and US markets are a bit behind, but they will grow. Forrester’s projections have the CAGR for global social commerce at 28.4% in 2021 to 2028, this appetite for growth is backed by McKinsey. It believes that live-commerce-initiated sales could account for as much as 10-20% of all ecommerce by 2026.
So while social giants are seemingly pulling the rug under live shopping, it’s likely a chance to refine and rethink what’s been going wrong. It's also a golden opportunity for brands to refine how to deliver a seamless experience once this medium takes off. This is about long-term play.
The social shelf: How can brands start leveraging live shopping?
Our advice for brands and retailers looking to get involved now, is that you should focus on reading the room. That means first, understanding your target market - what makes them tick? And then investing in products for the social shelf.
Don’t assume everything will sell in social commerce; find out what does sell, and pitch it to your clients. But a word of warning, you must still be authentic to your brand. Keep on top of current trends and refer to them, but always infuse your brand attributes to create an additional selling point.
Finally, don’t lose sight of what’s at the heart of the channel - effective, creative content. Live shopping streams are all about entertainment. And now, we have more tools than ever to create fun and exciting elements. So, include quizzes, polls, and giveaways to keep viewers engaged. This will enhance brand appeal and build more meaningful and long-lasting relationships with audiences.
With the news that platforms are suspending their live commerce platforms, we may be some way from seeing a real live shopping boom in the UK, as well as wider Europe and the US. But, China’s success proves that this medium offers brands the opportunity to deepen customer relationships, increase engagement, and break down consumer-seller barriers. The age of live shopping is coming, and that’s something no brand can afford to miss out on.
Do you need more advice on how to start capitalising on the social commerce opportunity? Reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.