Live shopping is still a young medium, but retailers and social media platforms alike already are taking advantage of its biggest strength: directly connecting consumers and brand representatives in real time. It’s one thing to read a retailer’s story, but another altogether to hear it directly from them and follow up with questions of your own.
Facebook is building on these shared experiences with Live Shopping Fridays, a series of scheduled live shopping events. Hosting them at the same time every week makes it easy for busy shoppers to make a place in their own schedules, and offers an opportunity for smaller retailers to gain exposure with a regular crowd of both existing fans and curious newcomers.
“It’s an event, so they know when to go,” said Yulie Kwon Kim, Director of Product Management Commerce at Facebook in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “I think the benefit of this is that a lot of times the richness of the experience is being able to interact in real time with the community and with the brand, right when that’s happening. You can still see the video afterwards, but I think there’s a specialness to just being able to participate.”
Live Shopping Fridays’ scheduled nature also makes it easy for retailers to let their customers know what to expect, whether it’s tips and demonstrations or flash sales and product drops. Two of the retailers who have found success with the program are:
- Alleyoop: This beauty brand, which focuses on efficiency and sustainability, uses live shopping to make all of its customers feel a deep connection with the brand by having brand ambassadors answer questions in real time; and
- ZOX: The retailer’s uplifting reminders, which are printed on wrist straps made from recycled water bottles, evolve constantly with weekly drops — which are perfectly suited for making appearances during scheduled streams.
Alleyoop Uses Live Fridays to Create a One-Stop-Shop Experience
One of the most powerful benefits of social commerce is its ability to shorten the customer journey. Top-of-funnel marketing almost inevitably loses some shoppers as they proceed down the path to purchase, from search to landing page to checkout. Livestreaming can overcome this falloff and build community by reducing the distance between the retailer and its customer base.
Alleyoop already has a strong connection with its customers, including both traditional social media pages and a live chatroom. The brand’s live shopping events let customers make purchases without needing to leave the stream, greatly shortening the funnel, while providing a golden opportunity to forge deeper connections through direct conversation.
“We already have a huge community of active fans that give us feedback through a Slack channel, who are also super active and follow us on Facebook and Instagram and all of that, but the shopping experience was that they had to go either to our website or somewhere else to get our products,” said Leila Kashani Manshoory, CEO of Alleyoop in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “This really provides a one-stop-shop experience.”
Livestreaming also gives the brand a chance to represent itself in ways above and beyond what’s possible in other mediums. Alleyoop is in full control of how its own products are displayed, and the internal team is on hand to answer any and all questions that come up during the stream to ensure each session has an extremely personal touch.
“We’ve done a lot of home shopping in the past as well, and a big pain point for us in the past has been we’ve always had to have someone else represent our brand,” said Manshoory. “We weren’t able to be the spokesperson for ourselves, even if we were a guest on air, and it’s never the same when you’re not actually the one telling your own story. If we’re not giving you answers or information that you want that might be valuable to you, you can ask it in live chat and I can answer in real time and give you the feedback.”
ZOX Integrates Timed Drops with Interactive Content
Product drops are a great way to drive interest in limited-inventory products, and live shopping is an optimal fit for this form of retailing. This approach is all about building excitement and being part of the group watching out for these opportunities, so live shopping has been a natural fit for ZOX.
“We do drops every single week,” said Jason Kuipers, CEO of ZOX in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “That’s a big part of how we’re constantly innovating and constantly pushing what’s next. For us, live shopping is a natural extension of that in terms of being able to interact with the customers. We are very big into to Facebook groups so that’s a big part of it, and I felt like for us live shopping was a perfect extension of literally everything that we already do, but with a very clear-cut, ‘Here’s the easiest way to actually get this item’ versus ‘Let me tell you about this item and then in a little bit, we’re going to launch it on our site and you can check it out there.'”
The back-and-forth discussion with shoppers also is an essential part of the experience for ZOX. Getting direct face time with the founders of a brand they love is a great experience for loyal customers, and maintaining these positive interactions throughout other parts of social media is a key part of what makes ZOX, Alleyoop and other retailers stand out from the competition.
“I think the next level for brands that really transition into ones who are household names in the next 10 years are ones who make customers feel both seen and heard,” said Kuipers. “Facebook does a really, really good job of that. You have this ability to interact with people. We like to say that we are incredibly inclusive, meaning it doesn’t matter where you’re from, what you believe, anything like that. We want everybody to be a part of what we do, because I feel like the world needs that.”