The only thing that has proved consistent in the retail market is change itself. From trends to buying habits it’s a market that keeps brands on their toes, and keeps the industry innovating for new solutions to stay relevant. The newest trend in retail marketing takes a nod to the nostalgic Home Shopping networks of the past (still an industry worth a whopping $200 billion USD) - by taking the format and applying it to new mediums; namely, social media and third party platforms.
Home Shopping, fueled consumer culture and paved the way for accessible shopping from the comfort of your dressing gown.
The home shopping or remote retail industry first started in 1977 in the US, when a radio talk show host sold green can-openers live on air. To everyone's surprise all 112 sold within the hour.
This concept then moved to television, where it really took off. QVC’s was the first dedicated channel and the first ever item to be sold in this form was a shower radio, namely, “The Shower Companion”. Home shopping then turned into a multi-million dollar industry throughout the 80’s. HSN, saw a growth from 3.6 million in 1985 to a whopping 42.6 million in 1986.
Covid-19 was a true catalyst for the popularity of this concept taking a more digital and ecommerce integrated turn, with brands needing to find ways to capitalise on their digital platforms more, with stores largely remaining shut for a good part of 2020. So here we entered the new wave of live-shopping, using social media, third party platforms and relatable content to engage audiences. Showcasing the products online, since now customers could no longer engage with them in store. Live stream shopping has reinvented the digital home shopping experience, by combining the innovations within ecommerce, and applying them to the format of the original home shopping solution. Providing real-time feedback loops with reviews, comments and Q/A sessions direct with brands about their products. It opens the channel back to a two way street, retaining the convenience of never having to leave your home.
The content best used for this format takes a page from the OG home shopping networks. Product demonstrations, trials, unboxings - this format is perfect for showcasing your product in action with either yourself or your own team, or by engaging with influencers to capitalise on their reach as well. The key is to have the content relatable, open and accessible - and giving good insights into the products that are created.
A popular trend in the beauty space is full skincare demos, with members of the team going through their regime live on video, using their products from start to finish and highlighting the concerns that they target.
CultBeauty - a UK based Beauty ecommerce store is a prime example of this, with product demos being a weekly occurrence in their social content strategy - always with direct links to shop the products.
Human interaction is the aspect that is imperative with this strategy, interacting with customers but also showing the humans behind the brand using products in a real and relatable format.
Right now, there are many platforms where this format can take place, and the best way to figure out where you as a brand should be looking to put your liveshopping content is really dependent on what you’re selling and where your target audience is. We’ve broken down some of the key players below:
The home of the unboxing videos and make up tutorials, Youtube is a big contender for relatable product reviews and content, showcasing items in use. With plenty of influencers using this space to talk to their engaged audience, there is generally a niche following for most items you would wish to sell, but brands too can utilise their platform to talk directly to their consumers in the live-shopping format.
A new contender yet a big one for the younger generations. TikTok has moved up and caused a lot of waves. Reinventing the viral content form - TikTok opened the playing field for a new group of influencers to dominate. With short and sharp videos, it can be a great platform with a lower barrier to entry for brands to utilise themselves, or engage with a younger audience with their products using influencers.
The holy grail of live shopping platforms. Also one of the easiest to integrate for most consumer good brands. Instagram itself has introduced many shopping features and a recent redesign had them prioritise the shop button within the main navigation, next to your personal profile touch point.
Instagram users are often primed to buy, and are used to seeing consumer oriented content on the platform. It’s a perfect place to engage your already captured audience and promote products in a unique way - and you probably already have it as part of your digital marketing strategy anyway.
Google founded, it’s aim was to combine the process of youtube reviews, influencer marketing and shopping into one app. With short videos of products being used and direct links to buy - it’s ideal for small purchases that don’t require a big budget, but instead influence quick action by showing value and results. Currently being dominated by beauty brands.
Amazon rolled out a streaming service for fitness, cooking programs and lifestyle content to help sell their products and their uses into this industry. As an E-Commerce giant this move was made to keep them ahead of the game, leveraging the trend naturally with their key product base and high selling items.
A platform dedicated to gaming, it’s pretty clear what industry this is best catered to. Game releases and technology, Twitch has seen an uptake in a liveshopping format for this niche. With an extremely engaged and captured audience, working with Twitch Influencers is the key to see success from this platform.
Started in 2015 as a digital info based directory to reach Chinese travellers shopping in the US. This has since expanded to a larger target base, but is still used to highlight brands to customers who are primed to buy.
Founded in 2018, they now have over 2 million followers, and sales have increased sevenfold. They’ve taken the classic format of live homeshopping but given it a digital platform refresh - with products from all categories, they’ve focused on providing variety for their users.
A mobile app that focuses on live demos to sell items that are limited edition. The sneaker and streetwear industry has taken to this like wildfire but there is space for speciality or limited items within it’s captured audience - including art, merch and high end clothing.
Live shopping is likely to continue to grow, and is a proven strategy to increase conversions for your products. Without overthinking the execution, it’s also something that doesn’t require big production houses or teams - just good honest product explanations, shared in the right place.