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How Live Shoppable Video is Transforming the E-Commerce Experience

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By Jake Ward, Business Development Manager, Groovy Gecko

As an innovation that has a projected sales value of $423 billion in China for 2022, and a growing presence across the US, the ‘Live Shoppable Video’ phenomenon has become a lucrative marketing strategy for retail brands. The UK and Europe looks to be the next area of growth for the technology.

Jake Ward, Business Development Manager, Groovy Gecko

The pandemic of the past 18 months has only increased the demand and desire for this new way of shopping, as consumers are confined to their homes and engaging with their smartphones and computers more than ever before. But what exactly is live shoppable video, why is it so impactful, and how can brands benefit from it? 

At Groovy Gecko, we see the huge potential in live shoppable video’s growth, particularly in the UK. Combining the ease and low maintenance of online shopping with the fun of an interactive, shared event, viewers are able to see products being shown and used in real time, with interactive elements such as questions and live polls offering live feedback. 

The value that live shoppable video can bring to e-commerce brands across many industries is broad – but increasing brand appeal, sales, and consumer engagement are three of the main impacts brands can expect. 

Know your market – will live shopping ‘work’ for them? 

Currently, the biggest market for live shoppable video is China, followed by the US, where the movement is steadily growing in a number of sectors, including fashion and beauty. British brands such as Pretty Little Thing, H&M and John Lewis are now starting to pilot the technology, hoping to capitalise on the interactive digital and at-home merged experience. 

Live shoppable events allow consumers to view new product launches first and buy products directly, or be offered unique discounts with COVID-19 only accelerating the appeal to at-home buyers, given its reminiscent elements to in-person shopping. 

Consumers also want the exclusivity that comes with a live event – knowing they are amongst the first people to see and purchase a product is enticing, creating a buzz around the event as well as the items themselves. Exclusive, limited-time discounts can be offered too, furthering the feeling that the shopper is getting a special, insider deal.

A popular demographic for live shoppable events is Gen Z, who are used to sharing their lives constantly on social media. A Global Web Index report revealed that the majority of Gen Z consumers use social media as their top source of shopping inspiration, and most brand interactions take place on social media. Interestingly, more Gen Zs have watched a video made by a brand (29%) than liked or followed a brand on a social network (26%) or visited a brand’s social network page (23%). 

Millennials are also big fans of live shoppable video – research in the UK by Influencer Marketing Factory revealed that almost half (40%) of both Gen Z and millennials have bought an item while seeing it on a livestream on a social media app. 

Social media standout

One of the reasons why live shoppable video is becoming so popular in e-commerce is that it utilises influencer marketing and social media.  

In November 2019, Viya, a popular Chinese live streamer and influencer, hosted a live shoppabble stream with Kim Kardashian where she sold 150,000 bottles of her perfume in a matter of seconds. The combination of one of social media’s most influential stars and the already primed Chinese market made for a perfect storm. 

American superstore Walmart teamed up with 10 TikTok stars for their first live shoppabble event in December 2020, which resulted not only in high engagement levels, but an increase in their own TikTok following by 25%. The event showcased apparel from the Walmart superstore, illustrating the strength of the young demographic and impact of TikTok influencers even when interacting with a supposedly ‘uncool’ retailer. 

The amount of influence that the right social media star can bring to a brand should not be underestimated – Pretty Little Thing’s ambassador Molly-Mae Hague has been known to sell out fashion pieces within minutes.  

Taking the tech into your own hands

There are many ways for brands to utilise the technology of live shoppable video. On the low maintenance end, Instagram and YouTube can be used to interact with consumers in the moment. However, this tends to be a lower-reward option as there are limited ways to customise the look and experience within the platform but there is already a significant audience to engage with.

Offering a bespoke live shopping platform or page within a brand’s website can create an on-brand, personalised live shopping experience. Control over targeted features such as product carousels, polls and Q&As means overall engagement is much higher. Using a bespoke platform offers a fully branded solution, for example LEGO® CON 2021 despite offering no shoppable options sat perfectly within and felt like part of their main website, ensuring a seamless customer experience and optimal fan interaction.

Who is doing it right? 

Last Christmas, we worked with Cadbury to bring their Secret Santa experience to life online. Instead of taking to the streets across the UK, the 2020 experience was completely online, and we created an interactive portal that allowed consumers to have a 1:1 conversation with a real Cadbury Postal Service worker to send chocolate to their loved ones for free. We also created a virtual queuing system with interactive elements to engage users while waiting, including a Christmas quiz and classic Christmas jokes, to keep the audience entertained. For those users who didn’t want to wait in a queue there was also an e-commerce option. 

Fashion is historically a key area for e-commerce, and has evolved from shopping from your TV to looking at the latest collections on your smartphone. Fast fashion brand Pretty Little Thing has seen the positive impacts of ongoing live shopping e-commerce events. We worked with PLT on their successful Pink Friday and Valentine’s Day live shopping events, which featured competitions, flash sales, and models showcasing the brand’s favourite styles to thousands of live viewers. The brand also recently launched their first ever live shopping fashion show in Miami. This was an opportunity to educate their loyal customer base on the new range of swimwear while making purchase much more straightforward.

High-fashion brand Gucci launched a live shopping experience last summer, showing that the trend can be adapted for discerning audiences seeking the feeling of having a ‘personal shopper’ without leaving the house. We recently worked with a word-renowned luxury jewellery brand on a live shopping event, giving their exclusive audience a one-of-a-kind experience online. 

Live shopping can work for a variety of brands at differing price points – it’s all about knowing exactly what your audience wants and engaging with them accordingly.  

Virtual is vital

Even before 2020 forced brands to rethink how they connect with their audiences, online and virtual events were on the up. The flexibility and ease of tuning into an event from wherever you are is undeniable, and the demand has remained even as the UK begins to open up.  

E-commerce has hugely changed since the pandemic, with many retail companies from groceries to clothing, shifting to the online shopping world. Apps have been created for a variety of shopping experiences and delivery times have reduced to give people what they want in record time. 

We have seen fast-paced growth in the sector as consumer demands and habits drive industry change. Live shoppable video can be the solution for many brands seeking to engage with their audiences and give them an exclusive brand experience – further strengthening brand appeal and ultimately, sales. 

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