Many things have changed in the past year, as COVID 19 has turned the world upside down. Some elements of life and business will not be the same again. If somebody told you that a few months into 2020, you would be working from home or holding your sales session through Zoom or any other platform, you would not have believed it. But that is the reality, people have changed the way they do things to minimize contact and the subsequent spread of infections. New trends appeared while others may have gone to oblivion too soon after their adoption.
Livestream was a preserve of a few people until recently, but the pandemic had made it a trend. Before the pandemic, one would have asked “Who is doing livestreaming retailing or shopping?” But today, that question has turned to “who is not into livestreaming retailing?” Large retailers like Walmart as well as major CPG brands have embraced the virtual approach in the engagement of their consumers. Those who may have been doing it before the pandemic might have had an advantage as they had already learned the ropes, but many have been forced to learn as quickly as they could in an attempt to keep their business afloat at a period that was characterized with many business closures.
Livestream retailing is using a live video where the seller shares products with the customers, answers their questions in real-time and even goes to the extent of closing sales with customers while both parties are remotely engaging each other. This trend is a natural outgrowth of the TV- centered approach that has been growing as of late. Livestream retail may not have gained traction the way it has, were it not for the shopping restrictions which have been put in place due to pandemic. Necessity created due to a need to continue engaging has made it a trend in the marketing scene within a short period. Brands and retailers are in the race to add live and interactive experiences to their marketing endeavors.
The livestreaming retail craze can be traced way back to the mid-2010s when influencers in the middle of 2010 started using live video apps in their attempt to treat their fans as they took their trips in malls and boutiques in Los Angeles and New York. In these livestreaming sessions, they shared content and explained different products of interest they came upon. The virtual trips gave the viewers a glimpse of the locations, as well as provided them with an option to discover and get products that they wanted.
Ecommerce giants embraced this idea and soon they starting offering livestreaming events through videos by hosting celebrities engaged in live chats and seamless buying. People loved it, as it offered them a chance to discover new products and places while at the comfort of their own home. One of the most successful locations as far as livestreaming is concerned was in China. During Singles Day 2019, a sales event was streamed for eight hours with a popular influencer, attracting more than 50 million viewers. The 2020 event was expected to generate approximately $ 140 billion in terms of revenue in China.
In the United States, there are a variety of models that have emerged in the past year. Just like in China, the leading approach involves videos to popular social apps and e-commerce sites to attract audiences and influencers. Instagram has shopping features throughout platforms including Instagram Live. Similarly, Facebook has developed livestream retailing tools where they are allowing brands to create their programming.
Livestream retail will continue even after the pandemic; as technology continues to advance, one can only expect better video shopping experiences. It will be even easier to create and share content that will allow people to buy the products they need but are not available locally. With artificial intelligence, retail businesses will be able to provide their customers with totally personalized channels of live and interactive content highly personalized for their needs. Virtual reality, for its part, will allow transporting of the customer to the front-line seat at a livestreaming fashion show next to a likable host, who is willing to provide all the answers and take an order. Some things change, while others remain the same
It is important to note that video shopping involves more than the latest technology or even the influencer of the moment. A brand should not be all about flash versus substance. Those who have been in retail for long will tell you that the key to successful engagement is building a strong and lasting relationship with the customer. New trends may have emerged in the shopping sphere, but some things have remained the same. The power of human connection and the joy that comes with discovery, where customers move around their favorite store, having a good time interacting with sales personnel, and getting inspiration and learning stories about their favorite products, are some of the things that have not changed and will have to be embraced in video shopping if the process is to be successful. Livestream shopping is the new trend and it’s here to stay As a product manufacturer, you need to take advantage of it, as it offers your business the potential to bring the best to the customer as they stay safe, while reducing the distance between the retailer and the consumer.
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