Could live video shopping be something for your brand?

What would a live video be worth for your e-commerce business? Beyond Retail shares insights from the webinar “Live Video Shopping” by Svensk Digitalhandel.

They say a picture is worth more than a thousand words. But what about moving pictures - video? And live? What would a live video be worth for your e-commerce business?

We know many retailers are asking themselves these questions now, wondering if they should join in on the trend of live video shopping. What would the return be in sales and what does it take to pull it off?

Recently, we tuned in to the webinar “Live Video Shopping” hosted by Per Ljungberg, VD at Svensk Digitalhandel, to hear about this phenomenon within social commerce. The guests included Tom Xiong from Digitala Draken as well as Maryam Ghahreman CRO of Bambuser (live video platform provider). The webinar gave us some interesting insights that I’m now sharing with you.

China was a first-mover and the pandemic fueled the trend

First, we have to understand the background of this phenomenon. The trend comes from China, a country that is usually five years ahead of the west when it comes to trends and with an e-commerce industry three times bigger than that of the U.S.

Social e-commerce has been “a thing” in China for a while now, and is also referred to as entertainment-based e-commerce. It makes online retail fun and social - something people are used to from the experience of visiting a physical store.

What drives the development of social e-commerce is the fact that it is live and authentic. It appeals to the so-called “TikTok generation” - young people used to the video format, tired of photoshopped images and false marketing promises. They want to see the real deal - live videos that they can relate to with people actually using and engaging with the products live, before they buy them.

The pandemic has fast forwarded the development of this trend. Social commerce stood for about 9% of chinese e-commerce before the pandemic, and is now expected to stand for approx. 15-20% by the end of 2020 (Tom Xiong, Digitala Draken). During the lockdown when people were not able to visit physical stores, retail chains realized that they could showcase their brick and mortar retail environment digitally. That was when the trend really took off in China.

Before the pandemic, social commerce was mostly used by the big platforms such as Alibaba, using influencers to sell products in a live video format from their own homes or similar. Now, the brand themselves found a way to tap into the same trend. Tom Xiong argues that it was a long time ago we could see a trend with such an impact grow so fast, he used the introduction of the iphone as a comparison.

So, is Sweden ready for this channel? Tom Xiong explained that Sweden along with the western civilization needs to translate this channel into our culture and customers. Like other marketing channels, this channel needs individual strategies that work for each brand and its customers.

Today, one supplier stands out in Sweden 

In the beginning of 2020, the first Swedish companies pioneered in social commerce and live video shopping using the platform provider Bambuser’s video shopping service. The platform enables the essentials of live video shopping; retailers can broadcast live while allowing visitors to chat, write comments and shop directly during the stream.

The typical scenario is that a retailer publishes a countdown on its webpage showing when the live stream will start. This is then marketed in other channels to let potential customers know when to visit the page and watch the live stream event. Just as a television show or a TV-shop programme, when the show airs - visitors will find an influencer or brand representative hosting and marketing the products. The new thing is really that it is interactive, unlike the old TV-ship format, visitors and potential new customers can chat directly with the show host and shop without leaving the broadcast.

According to Maryam Ghahreman, CEO of Bambuser, the brand site is the best channel to use for broadcasting. Clients who have used their service add that, like any other physical event, you have to invite people and market it beforehand so that you ensure enough visitors. Visitors will not magically appear to your event without knowing about it. However, the video material from the event can be saved on the site or used in other marketing channels. Usually, the traffic to the saved video is actually higher than to the live event according to some of Bambuser’s clients.

So, what can live video shopping be worth to your e-commerce? Bambuser shared their average KPIs: 

  • Average viewing time 11 minutes
  • Average percentage who likes 35%
  • Average percentage who comment 26%
  • Average ad-to-cart rate 12%

Words of advice for brands considering the channel

  1. Understand your target audience
  2. Find a format that works for the target audience (e.g. is there information they cannot get through the webpage that this channel can provide? What are the most common questions sales reps in the physical stores get?)
  3. The channels should be a natural part of your brand
  4. Keep it simple and authentic - people are tired of the perfect exterior and live shopping does not need to be a premium production
  5. Be frequent and consistent. View it as a television series that airs a particular time each week or month

(Maryam Ghahreman, CEO of Bambuser)

We believe that we have only seen the beginning of this trend - social commerce. Right now the limelight is on Bambuser and live video streaming. We would not be surprised if more providers challenged their current presence on the Swedish market soon.

Are you considering live vide shopping for your brand? We encourage you to ask yourself:

  • What would our customers tune in to watch from our channel? How well do we know our customers' preferences?
  • How could this channel fit into our marketing mix and strategy? Perhaps live video shopping is your brand's way of owning the customer relationship, not losing it to other retail platforms. Perhaps it is helping you to create a reason for your customers to visit your online store instead of another?
  • How much time and resources do we need to allocate to actually make it happen? Even if it is not a premium production, it still requires both technology, production ideas and people managing the actual broadcast live.

At Beyond Retail we help companies ask the right questions when considering new marketing channels. We also support companies in finding the answers to them. Please feel free to contact us if you are interested in hearing more about what we can do in order to make your business excel in digital marketing and e-commerce.

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