Livestream shopping is taking the retail world by storm. Almost every day there is a new initiative launched by a major brand in the US to participate in this fast emerging market. Live streaming in China is already a $150 Billion industry, and is growing faster than any other retail technology in history. The US is not that far behind, with livestream hitting $11 Billion in 2021 alone, and many analysts are projecting livestream shopping will become a $100 Billion industry in the US within a few years.
A lot of retailers are scratching their heads trying to figure out how to get in, and where to start with live stream shopping. Here is a quick guide to launching your first livestream shopping experience.
1. Determine If Livestream Shopping Is Right For You
This is the first and most important question to ask yourself. Do you have products that can show well on video? Have you ever had a customer call you and ask to do a FaceTime or Zoom session to view what’s in the store? Do you have a space where you can create a setup to show off your products or services?
It is likely your answer is “Yes” to the questions above. Most businesses these days can launch a live stream shopping channel independent of the category of products they sell. Even WWE did a livestream shopping event from their new store! Think of livestream shopping as a way for you to connect with your customers personally, over a video call – something we have become very used to doing during the pandemic related shutdowns.
Now that you are ready to start selling through livestream videos, make sure you have the right equipment. First & foremost, you will need a smartphone to get started. Here at VISX, we prefer iPhones as they have really great cameras, and they are fairly consistent in performance across livestream services. You may also want to decide about other livestream accessories, such as a ring-light, lavalier microphones, or maybe even an external camera if your livestream platform supports it.
2. Start Small And Test Various Scenarios
This is going to be the most important part of your livestreaming journey – building out a process and a setup that works best for you. Livestream shopping concepts vary and it’s good to experiment to find what may be the correct fit for you. Try to get access to a platform that gives you a lot of flexibility, so that you can try out different things. Here at VISX, we offer 3 variations to livestream shopping and we encourage our clients to try each of them, and see what fits the best.
What you are looking for is a process that you can repeat fairly regularly, without spending too much time in setup, training, managing, etc. You will know after several small events what features really work for you, and your audience, and which ones are too complicated to include in your livestream event. Keep in mind, the goal of your live event is to engage with your shoppers, and not spend too much time tinkering with buttons and options while you are running the event.
Test different setups, like the mix of the products you showcase, the style with which you present or the hosts you use. Also consider the time of day or the day of the week you run an event, and play around with different event durations. The number of people you invite or who attend your live events could also be a mix you can test if you have access to such a variety of audiences. Lastly, try to change the types of offers, pricing and incentives that you use during the live event and see if it impacts the number of purchases that get made. Most importantly always collect feedback from your audience, either live during the event or just after the fact. Spend time looking at this data. It may not be obvious up front, but after a few runs, you will start to see patterns emerge.
Do not spend too much time on building an audience or marketing an event at this stage. Focus on practice runs, dress rehearsals, asking a friendly audience to provide direct feedback or just get a fresh set of eyes to participate in one of your events.
3. Make It Entertaining And Engaging
Now that you have all the technical kinks worked out, it’s time to focus on your content and style. This is where we recommend that you develop your own voice, pace and set up for your livestream events. It’s very similar to how you developed your entire business image. You know your clients the best, so be yourself and project it onto those little screens that everyone will be watching you on.
Depending on the type of platform you will be using, it’s likely that you or your host will be doing most of the talking. So content really matters. While driving sales through live streams is a key objective, keep in mind that overselling via video can become a little boring for your audience. And since you may not be getting real feedback from them right away, it will be hard to gauge whether they are even paying attention.
Instead, slow yourself down a bit. Give the audience a chance to ask questions through the session, and make sure you answer them as they come, vs waiting till the end. Look into the camera, and don’t have situations where the screen is blank and the audience is staring at pretty much nothing.
This is also a chance to give a remote audience a really close look at the products you are highlighting. So do close ups on the key features, model items, do full demonstrations – just the way they would have experienced the product if the audience was in your store.
Having a co-host can be fun too. We have often found that the chatter between 2 or more hosts during a live event makes things a lot easier. Find co-hosts that have good chemistry, and can talk for a 30-60 minute session without running out of things to say. Allow the audience to become part of the conversation between the hosts.
4. Make Sure The Audience Can Buy The Products
This is something we see many retailers overlook. What good is a livestream session if the audience can’t figure out how to buy the product being featured. The golden rule of online purchases is that for each additional click needed to buy a product, you lose 10% of potential buyers. That’s a pretty scary statistic! So it may be time to give some thought to how your audience will buy the product you are trying to sell via the livestream.
We see a lot of livestream shopping channels where the audience essentially gets directed to the brands ecommerce website. That may be a good starting point, but it may not be ideal, since you now have taken them away from the livestream session, and they are now shopping on your website instead. They may also never come back to the livestream session, so you will lose out on any additional items they may have bought while watching the event. But what if you are live streaming from your brick and mortar store, and the orders go to your online store instead? That’s going demotivate the stores that are running the livestreams, as they will get no credit for that sale.
For this reason, we recommend picking a service that has the product buy button and checkout flow integrated into the livestream video itself, so that you don’t lose your audience mid way, and you have the flexibility to decide where the order will flow to – online or in store. You also want to make sure that the checkout is frictionless, and uses some of the most modern payment wallets to complete, in just a couple of clicks on a mobile device – nobody wants to spend time typing in credit card and shipping details on a mobile device. In VISX, we partnered with popular payment methods like Paypal, to ensure the audience gets the quickest checkout experience on a mobile device possible.
5. Build An Audience
Finally – we are at a stage where you need to start building an audience for your livestreams. We suggest you start with your client book. If you are a business that has been around for a while, what better way to inform your loyal shoppers of what is new, than to introduce it to them through a live session. Use whatever CRM, marketing tools, email campaign managers, social media updates, ads, etc that you already use and let everyone know that you are going to be showcasing your stuff on a regular basis using a livestream shopping channel.
Create your event invitations, and make sure you have the capability to include RSVP or add to calendar functions. This is important as it’s really hard for people to remember if the event is in the future. Use event pages on popular social media apps like Facebook, or create your own on your website where you list upcoming events. If you plan to do events for large general audiences, make sure you have a regular cadence and calendar of events. Try “Live Shopping Fridays” maybe?
Ask your fans to post it on their social feeds or share the event links. You can always put in some free gifts or incentives if they do that. They will love you more for that! You would want to make sure your livestream shopping platform allows you to share such events. That’s why we prefer solutions that are web based with event links, vs those that require an app – it’s just so much easier to distribute event links vs asking someone to download an app.
Partner with influencers if you can. They can post these events in their feed, or they could actually host one for their followers. Sometimes this can help bring a whole new set of eyes to your brand, and get an audience that may not be from your town or even your country. It can also give relevance to your brand from the perspective of a third party that people trust or emulate. It can be a really powerful endorsement for all your efforts
In summary, treat Livestream Shopping as a new channel, and you will find that you will be building a shopper base and a revenue stream from this channel that is very different from your in store or ecommerce channels. These would be clients that want to engage with you on a more human level, and not spend hours browsing through images on an ecommerce site. They are interested in your story, what your brand stands for, and are seeking that personalized touch to their shopping experience. Make sure that is your goal, strive to provide it and you will see your livestream shopping initiative prosper.