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Live Stream Shopping Aims to Bring Customers Back Into Retail Stores

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Brooke Lynch


Although we’re constantly working to modernize the customer experience, retailers and influencers alike are adopting new mediums to reinvigorate the live-selling platform. Home shopping networks may seem like a relic of the past, but with the adoption of live streaming on social media, brands are beginning to use it as a tool to connect with their social-savvy customers.

Platforms like TalkShopLive, an ‘always live’ online shopping network, boast celebrity hosts like Matthew McConaughey and Paul McCartney and offer a more conversational approach to viewers. Customers are able to glean product information, hear anecdotes, and participate in interactive chat sessions throughout the Livestream. The live model really seems to be resonating with customers; TalkShopLive has seen sales increase by seven-fold during the pandemic. 

Live shopping is also being introduced on social platforms like TikTok; Walmart recently partnered up with the app to host its first hour-long live event. Users could shop for items featured by creators, all within the Livestream. The retailer stated that TikTok provided them with a new, fun way to engage with customers and also a platform to reach potential new audiences. 

Livestreaming offers customers a unique way to both interact with a brand and observe new products. On both dedicated platforms and social apps, viewers are able to connect with a host to guide their shopping experience. During these isolated times, it makes sense that consumers are flocking toward a more social purchasing experience. But it also shows us that customers aren’t just shopping solely for a distinct need or product, they’re still looking for an experience. With individuals avoiding retail spaces, these platforms restore some of the community aspect customers appreciated in physical stores. Although the convenience of eCommerce has defined the 2020 landscape, customers are not only focused on quick, mindless interactions. 

Additionally, these live streaming services may work to create a more seamless link between the in-store and online experience. Brands like Beauty Counter are using streaming technology to create live in-store content for online viewers. The cosmetic company officially opened its Venice Beach location last month, which offers a Livestream studio where in-store shoppers can create content to broadcast to customers at home. 

The live streaming studio allows staff, brand consultants, and influencers to show off products inside the store, and users at home can shop the products in real-time online. This live in-store capability provides a hybrid solution that enables customers to experience a virtual version of the shopping they’re used to. It also creates a more intimate interaction where customers feel a part of the experience and hosts are eager to answer questions and give recommendations. In a sense, the host may even act as a customer service or sales agent, answering live product questions just in a more engaging, promotional way. 

Livestream shopping will probably only ever exist as a fun counterpart to the more standard eCommerce experience, but it does offer a return to the community environment customers are seeking. It's also not a temporary fix. As we continue in the post-pandemic world, it can offer a permanent link between in-person and online experiences. Beauty Counter CEO Gregg Renfrew noted that the live studio wasn’t just created as an interim tool, but as a more engaging experience to educate and entertain customers. As retailers continue to look for unique ways to make customers feel safe in their stores, live streaming offers a fun alternative to everyday online experiences.