Shopstreaming is going to change the way everyone shops, here's why


By Meredith Cranmer |

Insights, Retail

Streaming combined with ecommerce – it’s the new power couple of retail.

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Imagine shopping with friends, family, and even your favourite influencers – it’s about real connections in a fast-evolving and truly immersive digital space.

The future looks and sounds suspiciously like the past. In particular, those cheesy movie shopping montages where men and women, complete with upbeat eighties soundtracks and hairstyles, show off different looks to their friends and partners to find the ultimate look. Of course, there are also a few sketchy fashion choices thrown in for comedy value. From Pretty Woman through to Four Weddings and a Funeral, the cliché fast-cut scenes defined shopping with friends for decades. 

Shopstreaming is the high-tech version of those changing room scenes. Also called live commerce, social e-commerce, and shopping parties, it brings those shared shopping experiences from the old days back, but in today’s world, it mixes digital interaction with social. You connect with people that you want to, and as you’re looking at that killer pair of heels (or two), these trusted folk help you decide between red or black…okay, they’ll probably twist your rubber arm into getting both (and I know this isn’t just me!).

Not only does this bring a human element back into online retail, but it also may be its salvation. Even before the current lockdown status had begun, brick and mortar stores were becoming an endangered species. And with the forced shutdown and a global recession just around the corner, the number of stores closing is guaranteed to increase, making it even tougher to sell products in high street stores and shopping malls. 

shopstreaming

Online retail, when done well, can also ease some of the costs and risks in shopping. It cuts down on overheads and provides more efficiency in getting the products straight to the consumer, quickly and cheaply. As long as a customer’s experience is the absolute focus, and making it extraordinary matters, then success is inevitable. Online retailers like Zappos have long understood that and have encouraged shoppers to choose more than one size of the product, get them to try all the sizes that were delivered, and then return whatever didn’t fit. That neatly solves one of the most significant challenges when it comes to online shopping: people want to try the products on for the right fit and size. And returning what isn’t quite right needs to be genuinely hassle-free.

Shopstreaming also brings in an element of trust through displaying the products in 3D and by being described in detail by the streaming personality. And because the shopper trusts the livestreamer, this helps make shopping for that perfect item much more comfortable too. Think of it as a very modern alternative to those cringeworthy shopping channels on TV, except with people you know and trust. It also brings a social element into the shopping experience, where you can connect and have fun with friends and family...no matter where they may live in the world. For me, this means I can readily tap up the opinions of my uber-cool East End fashionista friend, Charlie, who helps me to make bolder choices. If shopping was a sport, Charlie would be at the Olympics!

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Here are some of the key marketing takeaways from this new selling revolution.  

redshapelogo_bullet You don’t have to watch the Kardashians shop (and who wants to anyway hey!)

Shopstreaming doesn’t need to rely on A-list celebs or macro-influencers. The people who can help you shop can be your friends, family – the people who know you best. Ideal, a Chinese jewellery chain with hundreds of retail stores, created a campaign called ‘Thousand People, Thousand Stores’, which has not only revolutionised their 18-year old business but has also ensured work for their staff who were facing redundancy. And so far, these moves have made an incredible difference – their numbers are booming. 

The Takeout: Use friends, family, and store staff as personal shoppers. It’s a smart move – both in terms of budget and effectiveness. Research has shown that friends and family can have more influence on a customer’s shopping habits – so that then brings in the role of micro-influencers, sometimes referred to as niche influencers. The Influence of Experience report by Because shared that just one in 10 people say that they’re influenced by celebrities. Sharon Richey, our global MD, said: “At a time when there’s growing interest in brand trust and influencer marketing, this report provides clear evidence of the huge potential power of a distinct kind of micro-influencer – “experiencers.” 

What is crucial: Finding the right influencer and experiencer for your marketing and commercial needs requires finding the right agency. And that’s where we can help you use Shopstreaming effectively for your brands.  

redshapelogo_bullet You can host one-off shopping parties

Another positive spin of this tech trend is that you don’t have to rely on permanent strategies or lengthy campaigns. Just like real-life pop-up shops and temporary selling stands, you can live-stream parties with one goal, and plenty of social engagement. 

The Takeout: You can experiment with a few basic versions of shopstreaming right now through the following apps and features: Instagram’s Checkout feature lets users buy items from select brands, and Amazon’s Live Creator app allows brands and users to livestream and sell products on the platform.

redshapelogo_bullet The East is teaching the West how to sell online

If you’re still a little sceptical about this kind of shopping, consider how it’s already happening on a large scale, with China (of course) taking the lead. Livestream shopping generated £3.5 billion in 2018, an increase of 37 percent on 2017. More than 100 million viewers in China watch a live online video event every month, according to Gartner. There’s even a name for it: when live streams typically involve a celebrity or social media influencer demonstrating a product and answering questions from a digital audience in real-time, it’s called wanghong. More than $400 USD billion worth of goods will be sold through social e-commerce in China by 2022, an almost fivefold increase from $90 USD billion in 2017, according to consulting firm Frost & Sullivan. 

The Takeout: This one is two-tiered – don’t wait too long on this trend, or your brands will miss out. The second lesson: it could be a powerful opportunity to partner with other livestream partners to sell your products to the rest of the world, and especially China.

So, what’s in this secret sauce behind shopstreaming? Trendwatching defines this new fashion formula as a success because it’s “accessible, yet ephemeral, communal yet personal, and voyeuristic yet participatory.” My take: video-based socialising and social media is increasing drastically, and shopstreaming is the natural answer. It’s the lovechild of the two of them, and the perfect solution to the drop in brick-and-mortar shopping and the need for instant digital approval. At the most basic level, it could also simply help you make the right shopping decision as you trust the people you’re watching and shopping with. If you want to start shopstreaming your products and need the right partner, naturally, we’re here to make this work for you.