Live commerce is using live stream videos on social media apps and other websites to sell products directly to consumers and viewers. Shopping online via live streaming sites and social commerce is a growing eCommerce trend set to increase in the future, so brands need to know how to do it right and adapt to this new sales technique.
This is the step-by-step guide for how retail brands can make live commerce work:
There are 4 places to stream your live video broadcast, and each one has its pros and cons:
On social media: If you decide to stream the live selling show on Facebook, YouTube or another social network, you will have more visibility and very likely get more viewers and sales. Just be sure to choose the right social media network that best corresponds to your market sector and your target audience. However, you will be ceding the customer data to the social site, and won’t own it yourself, a strategy which may backfire in the long term.
See more: The Dark Side of Social Commerce: Pros & Cons
On an eCommerce marketplace: Sites such as Amazon are also working on boosting their live streaming capabilities and can provide a well-renowned platform for brands to get noticed. Again, though, customers will technically be buying from the marketplace and not from you directly. Also, the technological prowess of live streaming commerce on social media and Amazon Live is not yet fully developed.
On live streaming sites: Where real-time video delivery technology is fully formed and most advanced is on specified live streaming websites such as TalkShopLive and Brandlive. The problem is that they are not as well-known and trusted as the larger, more established eCommerce and social commerce industry players like Amazon or Instagram Live.
On your own eCommerce website: Finally, you could stream your live broadcast directly on your own website. This removes the need to rely on anyone else (apart from Amazon Web Services for your cloud hosting, probably) and you are not beholden to social media giants. You can control your own engagement and conversion data, but admittedly will have a harder time drumming up customers.
“Data and ownership of the audience is key today for e-commerce brands, because they need to bring some information and knowledge about their customers to serve them better.”
Don’t just jump in without doing your homework first. It pays to research the market and your competitors, find out what kind of sales style would work for your product range and target audience, the best time to launch, and a million other factors. Planning can seem like a pain when all you want to do is get on with it, but it will help keep your live selling strategy focused in the long run.
Remember that using audiovisuals in digital commerce not just an extension of a Zoom call; everything from the scenery to the shot framing to the lighting is a reflection of your brand image, so make it professional and treat it like you would any other promotional image or video.
Live stream commerce is an extension of the usual eCommerce practices, so make sure you’re trying to capture sales to the same audience segment you normally do, the one that is most likely to buy from your product line. There’s no need to change your marketing techniques and try to capture a new market segment just because you’re using a new sales channel.
For example, it’s not only young people who will be taking advantage of the latest technologies to change their shopping habits and social media commerce is not only for the new generation, so don’t focus on them if they’re not your main target audience. After all, the fastest growing demographic of Facebook users are Baby Boomers and the Silent Generation. Don’t worry about whether they will be able to adapt to this new form of technology – if you build it, they will come.
Many brands who put on live stream shopping events harness the power of online celebrities to advertise and sell their wares. But not just any influencer will do. Depending on the products you sell and your intended target market, a certain personality will have a greater or lesser effect on sales. If your product is particularly niche, it would be better to find a known expert in that field to be the face of your live commerce video. These micro-influencers relevant to your specific market segment will be more effective than more famous, but less knowledgeable, names.
Who’s more suited to sell your products – a household name or a niche influencer?
There are many ways of doing a live streamed sales video, but one of the best things about the format is that it offers the chance to do more than just a direct-to-camera sales pitch. In fact, internet users expect more these days, something different to catch and keep their attention.
So be sure that the video, the ‘live’ part of live commerce, is engaging, entertaining, funny and meaningful for consumers in the same way that other, non-commercial video content on the internet is. Mimic the lighthearted style of stuff you’d see on YouTube and Facebook. When it comes to eCommerce, that means being truthful about the pros and cons of the products on sale, and even poking fun at yourself a little bit, not taking yourself too seriously. Consider including insightful interviews on air, going off set and into the general public, or setting aside time in the show to dedicate to non-sales – anything to make your show stand out in the ever-growing crowd of live commerce streams. And, as ever, put the customer’s needs first to make them feel valued.
“I position myself as someone who helps the customer make a decision—I need to think about their needs.”
So much for the ‘live’ bit, but don’t neglect to focus on the ‘commerce’ part too. Live commerce is just one sales channel, albeit one that can help you to reach new heights and to stay ahead of the competition in the future. But it’s all for nought if you don’t have a solid eCommerce website already in place. In order to sell more and better, you need a robust website, built on a specialised eCommerce platform, that contains most or all of the following:
The most successful online businesses are the ones that are constantly investing in new solutions for their tech stack, but with the fast pace of change in the tech world it’s hard to stay on the cutting edge of online sales. It’s a good idea to get help from a specialist agency to drive the digital transformation of your eCommerce business, and make sure you’re not missing any vital sales opportunities because of a lack of technological knowhow.
Once you have everything in place, you’ll need to let people know that this real-time eCommerce event is taking place. Do pay-per-click advertising on Google and other search engines, focusing on keywords relating to your retail sector plus “live”, “video”, “tutorial” or anything else that matches the theme of your stream and what your customers are likely to search for. Use social media marketing, both owned media or your company homepages and earned media getting publicity from others. Whatever marketing channels you use, make sure you get the word out so people know it’s happening and will want to watch.
Live streamed eCommerce video is not just about watching passively, but about taking part too. Unlike TV shopping, online live streams offer viewers the opportunity to participate more and interact with the hosts. Wherever you’re hosting your live feed, make sure there is a comments section enabled so that shoppers can write their thoughts and feelings about the products on display, and ask the presenter for more information about them, and send emojis.
Feeling part of a holistic shopping experience, rather than being treated as a mere passive consumer, is what provides the most value to shoppers today and helps them connect with your brand in a positive way.
At the end of the day, though, the aim here is to get people to buy. And nothing gets them to do that faster than if they think they’re going to miss out on a great deal – 60% of millennials admit to making reactive purchases because of a fear of missing out. A standard feature of most live eCommerce videos is to offer viewers the chance to buy at heavily discounted prices, thus making the event itself even more elite and unmissable. But to really push this sense that shoppers have to buy now, while the camera’s still rolling, you can make these discount windows time-limited.
Put a countdown timer in the corner of the screen and call attention to it every so often, so people watching know they’ve only got 5 minutes left to get that pair of shoes or that videogame at half price. Another similar tactic is an availability counter, showing that there’s only a handful of products left in stock, and it’s ticking down the longer they wait to buy.
As every good retailer knows, discounts are good for getting them in the door and through the checkout (virtually speaking), but the real money is in the more expensive additional items you can sell as a result. Did you sell that armchair for half price? Tell them they can get the whole sofa suite for just a little bit extra. So they’ve bought a set of kitchen knives? They’ll need a knife sharpener to go with that.
“How about a sharpener to go with those knives?” … Upselling as a live commerce sales tactic
You can cross-sell and upsell your more valuable products off the back of purchases for cheaper items to recoup any potential losses from discounting too much, or just to increase those profit margins.
After you’ve done all the hard work of attracting new buyers to your first live commerce show, be sure they return for the second one. Customer retention costs 5 times less than the acquisition of new customers, and a mere 5% increase in retention rates can increase profits by 25%. It makes much more business sense to look after your existing customers than to go after new ones.
With the aid of customer data, you can easily tell who has already watched all or part of one of your live shows, and who has made a purchase before, in order to offer them a special discount or a virtual loyalty card. Send out emails or messages informing them of the special deals they can get as a thank you for being loyal to your brand, and extra goodies if they refer their friends (there’s no reason you can’t have your retention cake and eat the acquisition one too!).
Finally, understand that live streaming as an online shopping channel is relatively new, and hasn’t yet reached its peak adoption. It will take some time for both technology and consumer habits to catch up to eCommerce merchants who innovate with unfamiliar, futuristic trends. Stick with it because it’s a long-term game plane; know that in a couple of years you’ll be head and shoulders ahead of the competition thanks to the sales strategy you adopt now.
In the meantime, allow space for scalability of your sales, stock keeping units (SKUs), your live commerce selling strategy as a whole and the size of the company itself. Create a flexible technology stack and business process that can be modified as time goes on, to keep improving your live stream eCommerce videos as you go along. That way, you’ll be assured of success.
SmartOSC specialises in creating scalable, modern eCommerce websites using the most cutting-edge tech solutions for forward-thinking businesses. If you’re interested in working with us, send us a quick message today.