Can stagnant e-commerce be rescued by live shopping?
Following the perceived 'death of the high street', Strategiq's Emma Burley delves into the lucrative realm of live shopping, and predicts a revival of e-commerce.
Convenience is no longer enough. E-commerce brands must broaden their horizons / Mariia Shalabaieva via Unsplash
A new chapter is being written in the ongoing story of retail evolution: despite online retailers’ best efforts to improve the customer experience, shoppers are left wanting more.
After a sustained period during the pandemic of reliance on e-commerce to encourage and facilitate safe purchasing, customers flooding to the 'online high street' are rapidly becoming jaded by formulaic, stagnant e-commerce as we know it.
Under the influence
China has pioneered the concept, tapping into their one-billion-strong internet user base to engage and delight via live shopping streams, set to hit a revenue stream of over $423bn this year. In a 2021 survey, 90% of Chinese consumers were planning to purchase products for themselves in the much-anticipated ‘Singles Day’, with clothing and footwear leading the way.
The west has also taken note, with more brands levelling up their retail offering to drive experiences and touchpoints that deliver emotional responses, rivalled only by an in-store browse and purchase.
From demos of software and tools through to catwalks and online cosmetic showcases, brands that work harder to deliver digital retail experiences that stimulate the imagination and connect customers with the brand ultimately do better in a saturated landscape.
Western social network giants like Facebook and TikTok are jumping on the trend, adopting live selling tools. In 2020, Shopify and TikTok joined forces to create shoppable video ads. Within two months, Instagram reels incorporated a shopping function, which more and more brands are leveraging to boost sales and drive long-lasting customer relationships.
A recipe for globalization
Live shopping globalizes localized, regional, and high street retail by inviting customers from anywhere in the world to access their recommended offerings in situ, providing validation and reassurance about quality and the application of a product.
Throw in a carefully crafted influencer campaign that embodies your brand’s values, and bam: there's a potent cocktail of inspiration and experience that drives sales and, even better, long term loyalty.
Why does this work? Live e-commerce hooks attendees by using interactivity to turn them from browsers into participants. Even more powerful is the compression of the buyer decision journey, reducing the time from awareness to purchase using tactics we’re all familiar with: time limits, exclusive coupons, and a healthy dose of FOMO.
Live shopping also enables brands to stamp their differentiators on the market, while using current customers to attract new ones through word of mouth and digital sharing. Then comes the recognition from younger markets of brands working harder to delight their customers.
The final nail in the coffin for the high street?
Despite its limitless approach to galvanizing large audiences around a central experience, live shopping is driven and underpinned by personalization and interactivity. By enabling users to engage and ask questions via a live chat and providing a convenient and meaningful e-commerce experience, it trumps any app or digital catalog.
Currently marked on e-commerce calendars, Black Friday and Cyber Monday live shopping events are impeccably timed to target and invite those truly in market, brand-aware and ready to purchase.
According to a report by McKinsey & Company, top live streaming accounts can attract audiences of on average 266,000 viewers, leading to roughly 75,000 orders in just one session, resulting in a tantalizing average conversion rate of 28%.
More of us will start to see invitations land in our inboxes, and the live e-commerce experience will continue to level up as we start to broach the realms of augmented reality (AR), courtesy of Zuckerberg and his metaverse (other worlds may become available). Marrying the convenience of online shopping to the experience of immersive retail creates a profoundly satisfying, gratifying, and highly lucrative shopping experience that could be set to hammer the final nail in the coffin of the high street.
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