top of page

LIVE SHOPPING: SOCIAL CHANNELS VS E-COMMERCE


IMG: LIVE SHOPPING ECOSYSTEM



Live shopping initially emerged as a new shopping format from China driven by the success of sites such as Taobao, Mogujie, Webo and even Alibaba. As this format has expanded globally, the live shopping ecosystem has now developed into 3 main channels; dedicated live shopping apps, live shopping on main social platforms, and live shopping on e-commerce.


With so much choice, where should brands begin testing this format and what are the pros and cons for each?




Dedicated Live Shopping Apps / Platforms


Let’s start with dedicated live shopping apps or platforms which gained lots of popularity in 2020 such as NTWRK, ooooo, Yeay and Whatnot. These are all Gen Z focused experiences much like ‘modern day QVC’ where you can watch lots of different live shopping events from brands and influencers within a single platform. These platforms are often focused on a mix of regular programming as well as popup shows combined with flash sales to keep engagement.




IMG: Billie Eilish collectables as seen on NTWRKNTWRK



Pros

  • A single destination for lots of live shopping content

  • Mobile first focused shopping experience

  • Enables brands to test this new format easily as no technical integration is needed from their side


Cons

  • The experience only works on the specific app/platform - brands need to send their customers to these platforms for them to be able to watch the live shopping event.

  • Downloading new apps/creating accounts in new platforms is a significant barrier and causes a high dropoff of viewers

  • Shoppers don’t necessarily trust the new platforms enough to make a purchase on them




Main social media platforms


The second channel where live shopping has started to gain popularity are from the main social media platforms such as Instagram, TikTok and Youtube. The platforms are now allowing for brands and certain influencers to go live and tag shoppable products in their live streams.


IMG: TIKTOK LIVE SHOPPING



Pros

  • Brands can reach new audiences when influencers, with existing following, host live shopping events

  • Good format for non conversion based KPIs

  • Best for promoting low ticket items (sub $10)



Cons

  • Consumers outside of China don’t feel comfortable making purchases directly from social platforms e.g. entering credit card info into TikTok. Most shoppers prefer to buy from the brand;s website.

  • Instagram live shopping capability limited to certain markets and product catalogue owners

  • Brands can access very limited performance data from live shopping formats

  • Live shopping shows are often diluted with “similar” products or “dupes” that are a lot cheaper than the original.




E-commerce


Last but not least, live shopping events can also be hosted on e-commerce sites by brands and retailers. This channel was originally slower to grow as it requires the brands to bring together multiple elements: the technology to enable live shopping on their e-commerce, the presenters and content creation as well as well rounded marketing strategy to drive audiences to the live shows. However, in terms of driving concrete conversion based results, this channel is proving to be the most effective. Brands are seeing ROI of up to 7.8X. Following the lead of some global companies such as Amazon and Walmart, more and more brands are now building live shopping as a new section on their site where visitors can go and check out any live shows + see recordings of some past shows.



IMG: LIVE SHOPPING KIEHL'S x BLOOMINGDALES USING SMARTZER TECHNOLOGY



Pros

  • Average viewing times 20X more than main social channels

  • Consumers get a bespoke live shopping experience and able to shop directly from the brand they know and trust

  • Brands have access to detailed performance and customer preference data

  • Transaction takes place on the brand’s or retailer’s own e-commerce where they maintain full control of the data and 100% of their margin

  • A great way for brands to add a highly engaging section to their website


Cons

  • Brands require a strategy to drive their audience to the live shopping page through social media and email marketing

  • An ongoing regular streaming strategy is required to build up a community