The New Way to Shop- Livestreaming

I have a few days off work and whilst sorting through some magazine and newspaper cuttings that I had collected; I found an article from August 2020 about the new shopping craze- Livestreaming. Last year this newest industry was worth £46 billon, yet many of us haven’t even heard of it! So, what is it exactly? Well, companies post livestream videos of beauty tutorial’s, fashion shows, video chats usually with a well-known influencer or personality and even events with the products been used appearing by the side, these can be clicked on to buy. Virtual try-ones for make-up and hair colours are featured too. It also allows for you to ask questions of a virtual assistant at the same time so it’s more interactive than watching a YouTube video. Most of these are through the brands, social media, apps and websites. Livestreaming usage by brands skyrocketed during the pandemic, COVID-19 accelerated the adoption of live shopping, but will this change now shoppers have the option to visit stores?

This selling platform saw a 739% increase in usage in 2020, and has found customers are 21 times more likely to buy when they virtually shop with a store associate than if they were left to browse online. Watching someone do a makeup tutorial live and being able to interact with them and ask questions is something that you can’t do on a static YouTube video or webpage.

The L’Oréal group, H&M’s more upmarket Monki brand, Harvey Nichols and Mamas and Papas, are all using this platform to attract and retain customers. Estée Lauder works with Swedish platform Bambuser. The L’Oréal group works with Livescale. Started in 2016, Livescale has been increasing its e-commerce partnerships and launched a partnership with Shopify. Social networks have also seen a huge surge, in addition to Instagram TV there is Tok-tok’s  Livestreaming feature. Which does allow smaller retailers to join the platform. Like Onimos, a vintage retailer with stores in London and Germany, they livestream shopping events on Instagram TV, viewers then leave the page to make purchases.

The Tok-tok generation (teenagers and those in their early 20s) are admittedly one of the biggest demographics currently using mass livestreams and the Chinese market but many experts feel that is going to change and it’s a trend that is here to stay.

Harvey Nichols have been offering Livestreaming to its customers since 2018, and with the temporary closing of shops and restrictions in selling beauty products and some shoppers fear of returning to the high-street it has seen an upturn. It offers events and one to one shopper’s experiences, you can consult a stylist anywhere in the world. It’s also a 24/7 experience so unlike retail shopping hours it can be used at all times.

Fashion and beauty are the best examples of industries that will thrive in a live shopping environment as both of these take advantage of live shopping’s ability to offer a visual image of their products. Ecommerce shopping is fast and convenient but the need for human interaction and an experience for online shopping is something brands have long wanted to include but haven’t been able to figure out. Could this now be the answer?

Consumers want access, authenticity and connection more than ever before and both livestreaming and virtual shopping fit that bill.      Adam Levene- Hero

In the late 70s and early to mid-80s, live shopping networks like QVC (Quality Value Convenience) and the Home Shopping Channel began to appear on televisions and were a huge financial success. This is very much an updated, more polished version.

Going forward, digital solutions have the ability to be made more user – friendly as the use of augmented reality and artificial intelligence can be fine-tuned to offer the perfect shopper’s journey. (Be it not with a physical person) But will beauty shops be forced to disappear from our high streets if customers are using a virtual shopping assistant instead? It’s a win-win for the retailer but what about the actual workforce, will they become redundant? Many physical retailers are great at customer service, Focusing on the needs of a shopper by answering their questions and enabling them to choose the right product. Livestream shopping puts digital retailers in front of a vast online audience while still allowing them to respond to customers on a one-on-one level. There is much convenience to the shopper. You could be in a coffee shop or on the bus and shop livestream, adding to the appeal.

Certainly, for the moment, consumers are happily using virtual make-up consultations and there is still caution of high-contact services, like beauty counters. I did try some of the different platforms personally I found some of them a bit annoying and not that easy to link up to, also if I was going to be cynical you could say it’s a way of getting us to part with more money, as you click on to buy whilst watching a demo, which you found interesting.

But who knows, Livestream shopping could become as commonplace as classic online shopping or posting on social media! The Jurys still out on this one, but I will keep following.

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