eCommerce is always evolving, stand still for long enough and you quickly get left behind. It’s an industry based on disruption, finding new ways of working and consistently incorporating better ways of doing business online. Using live streaming and video-based commerce to drive online sales could be the next big disruption and understanding how streaming is transforming shopping experiences could be vital to ensuring future success.
eCommerce has become an enormous aspect of the retail world. The figures show that eCommerce sales in the UK are expected to grow by just under 11% and total over £100 billion representing 22% of the total retail sector. Essentially £1 out of every £5 spent on retail in the UK is spent online so being aware of developing eCommerce retail industry trends, such as live stream commerce, is incredibly important.
However, the full integration of live video commerce is still in its infancy. We’ve still not seen the same type of live streaming shopping experiences that are occurring in China at the moment but there are still lots of ways you can utilise live streaming into your eCommerce strategies right now.
Why Retailtainment is the Next Big Thing
Retailtainment essentially means using sound, ambience and activities to get customers engaged and therefore interested in purchasing a product. Think of it as creating the perfect mood and setting in which they are most likely to buy something. It’s about connecting with customers and improving their whole shopping experience.
Today, features such as chatbots, mobile apps, one-click purchase and next day delivery allow online retailers to ensure a high level of customer success. Machine learning technologies can provide personalised recommendations based on a previous searches and browsing history while incorporating social media into an eCommerce platform has become an industry standard.
However, with this heavy focus on the digital sphere and seamless experiences, some aspects of the physical in-store experience get lost and this makes it harder for brands to form a genuine connection with a user when everything happens solely in the digital world.
This is why live commerce and the live commerce app is the next big thing. This is because it combines the elements of online retail that people want whilst live streaming brings the in-person experience of retail in a new and innovative way. With the coming year, we will see more and more companies build their own live streaming shopping app in order to offer customers the best of both worlds.
The Future of Live Streaming in Relation to eCommerce
Essentially, the full integration of a live streaming platform with eCommerce would enable a seamless shopping experience for a user who was watching via a live stream. This would make it be a part of the consumer journey itself, rather than just a nice added feature. By giving people who are interacting with the stream the option to convert and purchase through the stream itself without the hassle of having to click through to another website.
This how it currently functions in the Chinese retail market in regards to eCommerce. Referred to as ‘live commerce’ it takes place on streaming platforms that are either owned by or have deals with retailers, of which the biggest is Alibaba’s Taobao Live. The platform is home to more than 4,000 live stream hosts and offers content on upwards of 600,000 products each day, all of which can be purchased with one click while watching the live stream. By adding innovative and engaging content as well as extra avenues from which users are able to purchase directly from, the size of the audience you can reach greatly increases.
Bringing together unique storytelling, brand messaging and purchasing ability together in a live-streaming video environment is how retailtainment can help push the eCommerce sector forward. Apps such as NTWRK have been developed specifically to help facilitate this growth offering what it calls ‘shoppable shows’.
On their app, each week there are product drops which take place that can only be viewed live. Exclusive products are presented in a unique manner, usually featuring a well-known personality, for between 15–20 minutes. The audience has to watch live in order to be able to buy the product before it disappears from the marketplace. This fosters engagement between a brand and it’s customer base, ramps up the exclusive and desireable nature of a product and drives an urgency concerning the ability to purchase.
How Retail Brands Should Start Using Retailtainment Elements
With this already being a concept that is being successfully implemented in China, there have been some brands in other markets that have experimented with different forms of live video commerce. While not being fully implemented in Europe and the USA, there have been some companies that dipped their toes into the water and begun using elements of retailtainment to engage with customers:
- Kohl’s: During New York Fashion Week, Kohl’s became one of the first companies to use live streaming to broadcast and sell products through live commerce. They streamed a live view of the LC Lauren Conrad Runway on Periscope, in which viewers could see the clothing worn by models and then instantly purchase them through Kohl’s dedicated portal.
- Wayfair: Wayfair launched a streaming event they called ‘Way Day’ in which 100,000 products were included as well as thousands of “Flash Deals” that ran throughout the event. Based on the success, they are repeating the event again this year and extending it to 36 hours this time around.
- Amazon Live: Amazon already has its own live streaming service,Amazon Live, which lets brands showcase products via a live streaming platform. Viewers are able to watch live demonstrations of a product, see how things work in real-time and click through on links to make a purchase.
People are wanting to see more and more live content in relation to brands and companies. 80% of the top Facebook posts in 2018 were live videos and they drive at least 59% higher engagement rates than their alternatives. This desire for live content is something the eCommerce marketplace will need to integrate more and more of in the coming years as live video commerce and live streaming shopping are trends that are only set to rise in the coming years. If you don’t get out ahead of it, you could quickly fall behind it.