Live shopping events—also commonly referred to as livestream shopping—offer brands and sellers an opportunity to bring a real-time shopping experience directly to potential buyers.
Brand representatives—often influencers—showcase the product or products live, giving viewers the opportunity to interact through a chat feature to ask questions, and make a purchase during the event.
Live shopping unto itself is not a new concept, but it has been making headlines—and shifting US retailers’ strategies—perhaps more than ever before in the past year or so.
Already well-established and wildly successful in China, live shopping has been increasing in popularity in the West, with social media and ecommerce platforms fueling its growth through native livestream capabilities, including YouTube, TikTok LIVE, Facebook Live, Instagram Live, Amazon Live, and Pinterest TV, among others.
A component of the larger social commerce boom, live events bring interactivity back into the shopping experience. And as the available options and features continue to expand, brands are left to decide how they’ll approach livestream shopping, and which platforms they’ll dive into first.
In this article, we’ll explore some of our top tips for making the most of your live shopping event, no matter which platform you choose.
Don’t Take a Totally Off the Cuff Approach
Because livestream shopping events happen in real time, it’s not possible to prepare for every scenario that may arise, or question that might come through. But that doesn’t mean you should go into an event without any prior planning.
Take some time to run through everything you want to share during the event, and keep a notepad handy with any information you want to be sure to mention, or simply have at the ready should you be asked. This might include where your products are manufactured, any potential allergens they might contain, if they are vegan/cruelty-free, if they’re only available for a limited time, etc.
Also make time for some research, watching other brands’ and creators’ live shopping events—and even channels like HSN and QVC that take live callers—to see how others navigate presenting and answering questions as they come through.
Plan Ahead and Promote It
To ensure you have as many interested attendees for your live shopping event as possible, give potential viewers a heads-up of what’s to come, scheduling it and promoting it in advance of the broadcast. Also consider when the majority of your target audience will be available to attend a live event, factoring in common work schedules and holidays.
Once you’ve decided which platform you’ll be ‘going live’ on, look into any built-in features they offer for easy and effective promotion. On Instagram, for example, you can add countdown stickers to a Story promoting your live event, and encourage people to sign-up for notifications so they don’t miss it.
You can also take promotion beyond the social platform on which you’ll be hosting the live event, sharing across other platforms, on your website or blog, and/or to your email subscribers.
Have a Focus or Theme
Viewers want to know what to expect before they join a livestream so they can quickly determine if the products, services, or topics that will be discussed are relevant to them.
Consider structuring your live events around certain types of products (ie. our five fave bags for summer), situational essentials (ie. vacation must-haves), or different styles or feelings (ie. cozy must-haves for home), etc.
Keep in mind who your primary audience is for each of these different themes, and make sure to highlight the elements of your products that will matter most for them. Also aim to work with influencers popular within those targeting audiences for better reach, and a greater sense of authenticity.
“Through paid amplification of influencer content, we’re able to implement a full funnel approach to help drive social commerce for our clients. Working alongside the influencers to create the content that can help drive awareness and then separate content that will help drive conversions, allows for us to hit our consumer through each touchpoint. This partnership with the influencers also helps develop a positive relationship that can convert to a loyal consumer.”
— Gaby Padilla, Sr. Manager of Influencer Marketing at Tinuiti
Prepare (your inventory levels) for Success
Remember that live events are meant to encourage a purchase during the broadcast. If things go well and your event is a hit with shoppers, you want to be sure your inventory levels are prepared for a potential sudden influx of sales. This makes live events ideal for promoting new items you’ve just fully stocked, or any items you have a healthy supply of already on-hand.
Live events can also be beneficial for quickly selling through limited supply closeout items, but it’s important to make attendees aware that these items are low-stock items, and acting fast is essential. You’ll also want to be clear if something in your ‘last chance’ sale has an approaching expiration date, as might be the case for vitamins, foods and beverages, cosmetics, and more.
Give Your Content Legs
In some cases, your live video content will be available for you to download after the live event is complete. Consider in advance how and where you might use that content, and let that guide your format.
For example, if you’ll be reviewing 5 different products during your livestream, and you need 60-second videos to include in the product descriptions for each of those items on your site, consider mentioning the most important takeaways within the first 60 seconds of talking about that product on your live event. You can then easily trim that portion of the content to use within your product description or ads.
“Many of the largest social media platforms continuously report that Influencer-driven content outperforms branded content when leveraged in paid media. Tinuiti believes that Influencer content should always be strategically repurposed in other forms of paid media to help with cost efficiencies and provide another content source for testing.”
— Crystal Duncan, SVP, Influencer Marketing at Tinuiti
Remember the Social Component and Make it Worth Viewers’ Time
Remember that live events are a give-and-take. You don’t want viewers to convert later; you want them to get all the answers they need, and buy now. But don’t forget those viewers could be 1,000 other places at any given time, and keep your live events interesting and informative. Be sure to read comments and questions in the chat, or have someone else on your team in charge of monitoring the chat, sharing the questions with you as they come in.
Also consider offering a limited time discount during live events to further encourage shoppers to act now, and make that a standard to encourage folks to tune in during future livestream shopping events. Consider the increased sales and exposure that may come from it, which may more than even out the monetary loss from selling at a reduced price.
Live shopping events give you a chance to touch on all the most essential things about the products you’re promoting, beyond the top highlights and takeaways offered in a product description.
It’s easy to pack a lot of great information into a small window of time when talking conversationally, giving room to offer ideas about how to use your products—or general reasons to buy your products—that shoppers might not have otherwise thought of. So keep talking!
Consider all the elements of a given product you want to mention, focusing on aspects that will appeal to a variety of viewers.
Example Product: Beach towels
Some helpful information to cover during live event:
- The material the beach towel is made from (noting if it’s especially soft or absorbent, and if sand shakes free easily)
- The dimensions of the beach towel (noting if it’s oversized to show value)
- Where the beach towel was designed, manufactured, and/or ships from
- Mention that swim season / vacation season is upon us, or encourage customers to stock up now to prepare if it’s a pre-season promotion
- Highlight the colors and patterns available, and how they align with the season’s trends
- Show models of different body types, heights, and sizes wrapped in the beach towel so viewers get a better feel for how it will suit them
- Mention other items you’ll be showcasing during the live event that complement the beach towel (ie. a matching cooler bag or sunhat)
Why Live Shopping?
Think about the last time you watched a segment on QVC or HSN for an item that you may have only had a passing interest in before you paused on the channel. Or a time you got sucked into an infomercial, or live product demonstration at a mall, state fair, or even a Tupperware party.
You wanted to buy it at some point during the demo, didn’t you?
Good points were made. The vacuum really did quickly clean up that mess up on the carpet, and the beach-ready sarong looked casual yet put-together with those also-available sandals. Live events give brands a chance to explain everything from every angle, but they also give shoppers a chance to kick back and relax while they take it all in, no reading required.
Want to learn more about today’s live shopping and broader social commerce opportunities? Reach out today to chat with an expert!