Over the last decade, live commerce has taken hold in Asia, with massive results. The consumer in that market is particularly digitally savvy and online sales account for a higher percentage than in the West, but still, when shopping meets streaming, the results are fast and extensive. According to Dutch digital commerce site Twinklemagazine.nl, there was a 210% increase in growth of live streaming in China in 2019, with the first half of 2020 seeing 10 million events attracting more than 50 billion viewers.
What is live commerce?
Live commerce is when a sales representative is live on a streaming platform, engaging with customers and selling products. For example, highlighting their brand of lipstick, or the colour of their nail polish while they explain the uses and virtues of the named item. Live commerce creates interaction with their consumers and brands have the opportunity to create excitement for new products. A bit like a tv shopping channel for the digital age. In reality, live commerce is a form of entertainment. People love watching an engaging personality talk about something they are interested in or passionate about. Brands therefore need to realise that they have to invest in the hosts they choose and the consistency of their content.
Entertain to sell
Not only can retailers now use their best in-store sales advisors to sell online, but they are potentially reaching many more shoppers. Imagine walking into a crowded store and having to wait for a sales associate to make a purchase. With live commerce that’s no longer necessary. By providing the entertainment and “real-life” connection often missing during online shopping, brands can build loyalty and activate sales. Helping customers to learn more about products and creating a relationship between host and user means higher engagement and a boost in the bottom line. There are a few side effects to the new way of shopping. One example, according to Emerce.nl, is that fraudulent sales are made to drive up the numbers on screen to entice others to buy, while offscreen the orders are then cancelled.
Recent technological and streaming advances have made live commerce a reality. Retailers can enhance their online shopping experience with live shoppable videos, helping customers over the purchase finish line. At the moment, live streaming in the West is focused on gaming and social media with sites that allows gamers to stream their games for others to watch while they play or visiting an event from which live commentary can be streamed. The Demographics are very different for western live-streaming which could have an impact on its success. In China, the majority of live streaming users are in their teens and twenties while in the US, the largest group of online shoppers aged forty plus.
The question is whether live commerce will become the mainstream method of shopping, or whether consumers will start to feel live-steam fatigue due to the incessant quality it has. While live commerce cannot completely replace or duplicate shopping in-store, its appeal is real, but for the average consumer in Europe it might not have the same appeal. TikTok might be a future vessel for live commerce but the uptake has been slow and cautious. Will it really become as big as it has in Asia or will if fade away as a fad? It does however present opportunities and ways to explore new channels.
If you would like to know how your business could benefit from live commerce or have questions about this topic, please get in touch to discuss!