Credit: Getty Images by Seksan Mongkhonkhamsao
The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the digital transformation of businesses as they attempted to meet the changing demands of customers. Stuck at home during lockdowns, people around the globe turned to online shopping and live commerce. Today, what was once a temporary solution to a global crisis has become a new way for brands to engage and interact with customers at their convenience.
Live commerce isn’t new. It’s already a dominant way of shopping in Asia. Take China, for example, where the live commerce industry has become a shopping norm, growing from $2.85 billion in 2017 to $144.15 billion in 2020. The popularity of live commerce is expected to increase dramatically and is on track to become a $600 billion industry in China. The U.S. is on a similar track with growth projected to reach $25 billion by 2023.
The Opportunity in Live Commerce
But enough about the future: Live commerce is making an impact now. In 2020 alone, live shopping accounted for $5.6 billion in sales in the U.S. The numbers don’t lie. Live commerce is a powerful e-commerce strategy for businesses looking to create memorable experiences for customers while driving sales and increasing return on investment.
Ready, Set, Shop
The livestreaming e-commerce landscape has grown increasingly competitive as brands and retailers compete to attract and retain customers by adopting advanced digital tools. The result is that brands now can create a streamlined purchasing experience on their own website, apps and social media pages.
Brands need a thoughtful approach when implementing a live commerce strategy. Here’s how to set your business up for success from the start:
- Understand your audience. It may seem obvious, but to reach the right audience in the right way, you need to first understand their preferred shopping habits. The goal? To delight them at every stage of their journey. As the younger generation’s buying power continues to grow, brands will have to adapt their strategy or face the potential reality of becoming irrelevant. With 40 percent of Gen Z using social media to make purchases, building a social commerce strategy is no longer a nice-to-have. It’s a must.
- Explore new formats. Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) are emerging formats that can make the shopping experience even more immersive and enable consumers to see a product from every angle — literally! Nike is a great example of a brand using this tech to the fullest. With Nike’s Virtual View, shoppers can match their size and body type with holograms to virtually try on apparel.
- Choose the right technology. Leveraging the right tech can help brands harness the power of livestreaming and maximize profits by increasing customer engagement and boosting sales. For example, Ribble Cycles used ShopStream after the pandemic altered its plans for one of its biggest events of the year. When the pandemic canceled the live show, Ribble Cycles took it online. The reach of its annual Cycle Show far exceeded the company’s expectations, with more people tuning in online than showing up in person.
- Collaborate with influencers. At least 92 percent of customers claim to trust micro-influencers (accounts with anywhere from 10,000-50,000 followers) more than traditional ads or celebrity endorsements. This makes influencer marketing an essential tool to a brand’s livestreaming strategy, as influencers can help expand reach and acquire trust with audiences. Nordstrom is setting the bar for how livestreaming and brand advocates can make a giant impact. The retailer has launched its own livestream shopping channel, giving customers access to employees and brand partners across the beauty and fashion categories.
- Delight your customers. Livestreaming has endless opportunities — and entertainment is one of them. Your livestreams can be one-to-one, offering shoppers personalized information about a product, or they can be one-to-many where you can put on a full-scale virtual experience.
Tutorials are a great way to engage your audience while showcasing your products. Beauty brands like Estee Lauder have mastered this skill. Other formats you can explore include Q&As with influencers or brand ambassadors, and behind-the-scenes clips to show how a product is developed or made.
Living the Live Commerce Life
Kick-starting a live commerce strategy doesn’t need to be a daunting task. With some thoughtful planning and preparation, it can become a fantastic (and fun!) platform for customers to connect with their favorite brands to enjoy a unique experience.
Zarnaz Arlia is the chief marketing officer at Emplifi, a leading customer experience platform.
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