Live shopping: How to achieve success

In the past few years, an online shopping format called live shopping has emerged as a game-changer in the world of e-commerce. The format offers a unique shopping experience that combines online shopping with an educational and exciting live stream event. In China this has grown to an over $500bn industry and small businesses in the United States, such as Bagriculture, are generating new sales of over $100k per day simply by mastering live shopping. 
Whether you are working at a large global brand, a small business owner, or an influencer, understanding the key strategies and techniques for succeeding with a live shopping program can elevate your online shopping experience and sales to new heights. In this blog post, we will explore valuable insights and practical tips to help you build a successful live shopping strategy. 

Choose a core platform for your live shopping experience 

The first step in your live shopping journey is to select the platform where you want to host your live shopping events. The availability of live shopping technology ranges across select social media platforms, large retailers such as Amazon Live, and bespoke live shopping technologies designed for use on brand’s own e-commerce websites. The main social platform that enables live shopping is TikTok which requires integration with TikTok to enable shoppers to make purchases directly from it. Facebook and Instagram are no longer offering live shopping as a feature, however, these platforms do enable plain live streaming for general audience building.  For hosting live shopping events on the brand’s own websites there are many third-party technology solutions such as Smartzer, Bambuser, and Livescale. Given the limitations of the large social channels when it comes to live shopping technology, many brands are seeing the best success when hosting live shopping events on their own e-commerce and using social channels to drive traffic to the live shopping section on their e-commerce site. 

Create a regular live shopping destination

One of the most important elements of making live shopping a success is regularity. The purpose is to train your audiences to know that live shows are happening in a similar way to daily TV programming used to work. We all knew the time and day our favourite programs were on and therefore planned our schedules in a way where we can catch them as often as possible. The recommendation is to choose a certain day and time and stick to this timing for your live shows. This can of course also be a few times a week such as 7.30 pm every Tuesday and Thursday for instance. If your platform choice for live shopping is your own e-commerce site you have a great opportunity of building a dedicated section for your live shows, which is easily navigable from your main site navigation. This creates an easy-to-find destination that also functions as a content hub where your customers are able to access any of the recent shows as a replay. 

Build a 360 promotional strategy for your live shopping series 

The results for live shopping have been proven to show a high percentage of key KPIs such as click-through rates and conversion. The actual success of these will be dependent on how many people you are able to attract to watch your live shopping shows. Therefore, it is critical to involve all areas of the business to promote the new live shopping program. This would include your e-commerce team, social media team, CRM team, and possibly even your retail team. It is important that messaging regarding your live shopping program is included across all these channels from banners on your website, email newsletters, social posts, and possibly even print advertising in your retail stores. 

Plan and prepare the content of your live shopping show

Preparation is key to a successful live shopping experience. Preparation includes deciding on a location for the live show filming itself, hosts, key products or services to be promoted, a script, and promotional strategies. The location choice for live shopping shows varied broadly from full studio shoots to live shows filmed from retail stores or even homes simply using a phone with a ring light. Many brands use showrooms, stores, or offices as the location where the live shopping shows are hosted. The second crucial part is the host or hosts. They have two main functions - to be entertaining and to maintain audience engagement and to be educational about the products or services they are trying to sell. Therefore, for most brands, the best hosts are in fact employees of the business itself, since they know the products better than anyone, and are also used to answering questions from customers. It is also a recommended idea to combine a brand host with a guest influencer to bring in additional audience. It’s important to maintain a connection with the merchandising team and ensure sufficient stock levels of products being promoted on the live shopping event to avoid out-of-stock situations where possible. For the show itself, it is also highly recommended for the hosts to have at least a broad script for topics to discuss over the course of the typical 30-60 minute stream. 

Going live for live shopping! 

For actually going live, there are some technical elements that need to be in place for the best result. Whether going live simply from a phone or using a broadcasting tool, ensure that you have a reliable internet connection for a seamless live streaming experience. Before actually going live it is recommended to run a short test to test your connection, sound and video stream quality. With some live shopping technology platforms like Smartzer, it is also possible to use a pre-recorded video for a live stream. 

Engage and Interact with your live shopping audience

The true essence of success in live shopping lies in interactive capabilities. It is important to educate your viewers about interactive and shoppable capabilities at regular intervals throughout the live show. Average view times for live shopping are typically between 5-10 minutes, so repetition for an audience that is continually refreshing is vital. It is also recommended to encourage your audience to actively participate by asking questions and responding to their questions in real time. Engaging with viewers helps build a connection with them, which in turn can start to create a sense of community. Depending on the platform of choice, brands can also take advantage of the live comments feature and the ability to reply to questions from different viewers in writing.

Know your live shopping audience

Every brand has a different audience, who enjoy different styles of content. Think about what content performs well with your audience, and try to replicate this in the live show. Does your audience engage well with product tutorials? Or perhaps they prefer real-time demonstrations. Include these in the shows! You can also experiment with different content styles, and see what your audience resonates with best. Using detailed analytics that shows how your audience engages with certain content in the live stream can be a great way to discover more about your customer’s content preferences.

Educate viewers about your products during the live shopping show 

One of the main reasons for people to join a live event is to learn more about the brand’s products and offerings. Live streams also provide an easy way for consumers to get answers to any questions they might have about the brand’s products in a fast and personal way that also benefits others watching the stream. This will of course vary across product categories, but it is recommended that the host showcases the products well visually, talks through unique features and benefits by bringing them closer to the camera, and includes mentions of relevant customer testimonials or reviews to help the viewers make a purchasing decision. For certain product categories such as jewellery and smaller detailed luxury items, solutions such as Show-Case exist for capturing a high-quality video stream.

Offer exclusive promotions or the ability to win something during the live shopping session

Another way to attract viewers to a live stream shopping experience is to offer exclusive limited-time discounts or the ability to win something by attending the event. This can help create urgency and increase conversion during the event. For instance, viewers could have the ability to enter a prize draw where the winner is revealed at the end of the live shopping event to maintain engagement and excitement. The live shows can also incorporate an exclusive preview of new product lines. These incentives not only boost sales but also encourage repeat viewership.

Keep engaging your audiences through live shopping recordings 

The live shopping shows do not need to end when you click “end live”. If you are using bespoke solutions designed for e-commerce websites, you are often able to convert the live shopping experience complete with comments, likes and shoppable products into a permanent recording. This is a great way to drive additional impact and offer access to those who were not able to attend the live shopping event at the time it happened. Typically the recordings of these events can be included on the dedicated Live Shopping Section of your ecommerce site, and also included in all the 360 marketing activity mentioned above. 

Analyse data to make improvements for future live shopping shows

The best way of building a live shopping strategy is through analyzing results from each of the shows to understand success triggers and to iterate the format based on this. These success triggers will be unique to each brand and therefore it is critical for brands to build a strategy based on ongoing regular shows which enable analysis of the data and refine the details of the live shopping shows based on what best resonates with their customers. Where possible, it is also recommended to conduct customer interviews for first-hand feedback. 
Live shopping has started to revolutionise the e-commerce landscape by creating a new sales channel for online stores globally. By choosing the right platform focus, building a plan for a regular live shopping series supported by a 360 promotional strategy, getting the right hosts who are both educational and entertaining, engaging with viewers, and offering incentives or exclusivity, you can position your brand to be at the forefront of benefitting from this new format as a major revenue driver.