Live shopping, or live stream shopping, is a powerful medium businesses can leverage to generate more profit, outperform competitors, and increase brand awareness. This sales avenue enables organizations to showcase their products on a live shopping stream via a real-time broadcast on social media or other platforms. As a result, consumers can find out how the product works and see it being used live, which may entice them to make a purchase.
Streaming your shopping event in real time provides several opportunities for your e-commerce business. Ready to get started? Use this guide to learn more about live commerce, including how it works, its advantages and limitations, and how to host or participate in a live event.
- When did live stream shopping start?
- How does live commerce work?
- Benefits of live shopping
- Drawbacks of live shopping
- How to watch & host your own live shopping event
- Ensure a successful live shopping event
When did live stream shopping start?
Live shopping started with the introduction of QVC, which stands for Quality, Value, and Convenience. QVC is a free television network that pioneered and popularized the televised shopping experience for Americans. QVC has grown over the years to align with our current technology (i.e., live streaming, mobile devices, and social media) and grow in the booming industry.
The shoppable streaming market reached $317 billion by 2021 in China, where live commerce erupted with the introduction of Taobao Live. This form of shopping is popular among East Asian countries, with influencers garnering millions of views and sales.
Other shopping platforms continue to emerge, enabling businesses to sell their products via a real-time broadcast on large platforms, like Amazon and TikTok. Facebook also had a live shopping feature on its platform but discontinued it on October 1, 2022.
How does live commerce work?
During a live online shopping event, viewers will tune into a stream where a host presents various products in real time. The host will explain how the product should be used and highlight key features to encourage the audience to purchase. For example, clothing brands may use live commerce to show how their garments can be styled and fit on certain sizes and heights. Businesses will often offer special deals that are only available during the stream.
If a viewer is interested in the product, they can buy it directly on the streaming platform or brand’s website. In other instances, the audience will place bids on the items they’re interested in, and the individual with the highest bid gets to take it home.
In addition to providing consumers with a quick and easy way to buy products, some platforms also have additional features that make the buying experience more engaging, such as:
- Live chat
Keep in mind that not all applications have the same capabilities, so you’ll have to compare features to determine which one is best for your business. Popular platforms commonly used for live shopping include:
- Taobao (exclusively available in China)
- Popshop Live
If you can’t choose just one, consider streaming to several channels simultaneously with the help of broadcasting software.
Benefits of live shopping
There are several advantages to conducting a live sale on streaming platforms. Live commerce is a fast-growing industry that can provide many opportunities for businesses in different niches. Here are seven compelling benefits of this medium:
Mimics in-store shopping
Live commerce mimics the in-store shopping experience, so consumers can engage with a real person as they discuss products they’re interested in. Occasionally, live broadcasts are unscripted, meaning viewers will obtain a genuine interaction with hosts.
Live streaming makes shopping events more accessible, offering flexibility and convenience. Not every person enjoys going to the mall or retail stores to find the items they want and need; they’d rather make purchases online without ever leaving the comfort of their own home. In fact, Statista reports that shoppers prefer to buy online and have their items shipped, with apparel, footwear, appliances, and home furnishings as the most popular products.
Source of entertainment
Live streaming shopping events are not only helpful for consumers, but they’re also a source of entertainment. Like movies and television shows, shopping streams are sometimes scripted and shot in a professional set with make-up artists, good lighting, and more. Additionally, these types of streams are often hosted by well-known influencers and celebrities to attract viewers.
Streaming platforms can help you engage better with your audience, specifically on platforms that have built-in features that make the viewing experience interactive. The stream’s host can answer questions as they appear on the live chat, conduct polls, and more. Plus, you can build trust and credibility with consumers by providing real-time responses to pressing questions.
Generate more sales
Sometimes, consumers can’t make it to a physical retail store, but many can attend a live shopping event via their mobile device, television, laptop, or computer. As a result, they may be more inclined to purchase since they can see the product being used.
Additionally, live commerce taps into our desire to make impulse purchases, as products are typically sold at lower prices during the stream. Once the shopping event is over, consumers can no longer access the discounted prices.
Fewer returns on merchandise
There are many reasons shoppers may return the products they purchase online, such as when an item doesn’t look the same as the product image, work as described, and so forth. On average, purchases made during a live shopping stream have a 40% lower return rate than traditional ecommerce sales. This can be attributed to the fact that consumers can gain a better view of the product they’re considering buying and be more confident in their purchase.
Increase brand awareness
By increasing your following on social media networks and dedicated streaming platforms, you can build your brand’s awareness. In many cases, streaming and social media channels allow you to add tags to your broadcast; this makes it easy for viewers to find your stream organically.
Drawbacks of live shopping
One of the most significant disadvantages of live shopping events is that streamers can experience technical issues. For example, you may encounter high latency, resulting in a low-quality viewing experience. If your audio or video is unclear, viewers will have difficulty understanding you and not receive an accurate presentation of the product.
To avoid issues, it’s important to have the best streaming software and tools. With Dolby.io APIs and SDKs, you can ensure your viewers receive a near-zero latency live stream with the highest quality audio and video.
Mistakes can happen live
Live streams occur in real time, so you won’t be able to edit your mistakes while broadcasting. Errors may be corrected after the stream, but at this point, viewers may have already purchased the product.
Hosts may not be engaging
Not all salespeople are charismatic and enthusiastic about the products they’re trying to sell. As a result, they may be unable to deliver a stream that’s entertaining and interactive, potentially leading viewership to drop.
How to watch & host your own live shopping event
Whether you want to watch live shopping events or host your own, here’s how you can get started today:
How to watch live shopping events
Watching live shopping streams is easy. All you have to do is browse through the broadcasts available on one or more of the following live stream shopping platforms:
- Amazon Live
- eBay Live
- Instagram Live Shopping
- Popshop Live
Keep in mind that you may have to create an account or provide your billing information to buy from the platforms above.
Hosting your own live shopping event
The first step to hosting your own live shopping event is to decide which platform you’ll use. Ideally, you want to broadcast to a platform your target audience commonly uses. For example, if your market research indicates that they spend a lot of time on TikTok, consider live streaming on the app.
Next, invest in high-quality equipment, like a webcam, ring light, microphone, and computer. While you don’t have to purchase expensive equipment, obtaining the best quality streaming products can improve your broadcast. You also want to look for software and other innovative solutions, like Dolby.io APIs and SDKs, that can help improve the viewing experience.
You can then start planning your content, thinking about which products you want to sell, and creating a schedule for your streams. Streaming during peak viewing hours is a good idea, as you can increase the likelihood of engagement and conversions. It’s best to be consistent when building your schedule.
You also want to think about ways to make your live commerce streams more interactive and entertaining. Here are a few ideas:
- Provide limited time promotions and deals
- Conduct live giveaways or contests
- Leverage influencers to attract viewers
- Collaborate with other brands
Ensure a successful live shopping event
Live shopping can be a great way for brands to generate more revenue while increasing brand awareness on different streaming platforms. Not only do live commerce streams provide entertainment, but they also make it easier for consumers who prefer online shopping to purchase the products they want. As a result, your business may encounter fewer returns on merchandise and boost sales.
If you’re thinking about hosting live events, make sure to provide the best viewing experience with Real-time Streaming. Dolby.io’s innovative solutions enable streamers to provide high-fidelity audio and video to their audience — at global scale — ensuring your real-time broadcast is as clear as possible. Our suite of APIs and SDKs can also help engage your audience like never before with sub 0.5 second latency, creating a real-time shopping experience every time.