You may have heard the buzz around this new channel that is making waves in commerce but for those of us old enough to remember the height of the home shopping networks being broadcast on our TV, it might sound very familiar. Is Live Commerce a remarkable innovation or an evolution of a somewhat tried and tested method?

 

What exactly is Live Commerce?

To put it into its simplest terms, Live Commerce is the blending of live entertainment with instant purchasing broadcast via a digital channel. I know what you’re thinking, this sounds very familiar.

To give the concept a bit of a back story, Alibaba launched Taobao (which translates to ‘searching for treasures’ in Chinese) in 2016. This self-described ‘super app’ is a one-stop-shop for more than 800 million Chinese consumers and is China’s biggest online shopping destination. It boasts listings of over 2 billion products and services from originally designed clothing to branded products and even fresh agricultural produce.

The platform is used for everything, and that is not an overstatement. People are buying products, ordering food, and even booking flights all in this single app and all this data is giving them the power to create hyper-personalised journeys.

Where it moved away from the standard marketplace or eCommerce experience was with the introduction of live streaming. They embedded the purchasing journey right into the live stream so whilst people are watching the product demonstration or show, they can explore and shop without leaving the entertainment behind.

 

Innovation or Evolution?

Those familiar with the home shopping networks of old will see the similarities very quickly. Ok, the tech used is somewhat old hat now, but the concept is the same. People like Joan Rivers built brand empires selling things like jewellery in almost the same way using the latest tech available at the time.  We tuned in to watch the show, asked questions, placed orders over the phone, and felt connected to the hosts and guests.

Where Live Commerce is the evolution is that it is putting it in a place that people use now. The days of spending hours in front of the TV are over. The innovation is the removal of the need to use multiple devices and the almost endless number of streams that people can tune into concurrently.

The old way tied us to a schedule that often-meant spending hours waiting for the show to come around and the hope that we didn’t miss it. eCommerce gave us the ability to buy what we want when we wanted it. Live Commerce is merging the two things and creating an experience that is innovative in its delivery but very much an evolution of an experience we know worked.

 

Does it work?

To put it into a succinct statement, yes it works. In the first 30 minutes of the 2020 Alibaba’s Singles’ Day presale campaign, Taobao Live generated $7.5 billion in total transaction value. And Tommy Hilfiger has extended their live program to Europe and North America after one of their shows in China is reported to have attracted 14 million viewers and sold 1,300 hoodies in two minutes.

But as with all things, it’s not just as easy as whacking up a Livestream and waiting for the money to roll in. Most of the success for those examples is due to the platforms being used and the marketing effort attached to promoting them.

The key to success is putting it into a place where people are already engaging, are open to a shopping experience and the experience that is offered is convenient and easy to accomplish.

 

Should you be doing it?

Based on the information at hand today it is hard to say if it will work for every type of product. The largest success has been in apparel and fashion, beauty, and consumer electronics. Interestingly if you think back to the types of products often sold through the home shopping networks like QVC, the match is almost like for like.

Other things to consider alongside does your product fit are things like, are your customers or those of your buyer personas using the platforms where Live Commerce is the most successful. Starting the process and getting Live Commerce up and running is not a cheap exercise so making sure that it is something your customers are likely to engage with is important.

Are you willing to invest the time and money not only into the technology required to make it a success but, in the marketing, required to drive awareness, engagement and ultimately the purchases? These are things that need to be kept in the mix when considering if it is a channel to use.

If your answer to those questions is yes, you might just have found a new way to deliver not only an increase in sales but also the opportunity to create incredible digital customer experiences.

Keep an eye out for the next Live Commerce blog where we’ll explore a little more about how to go about setting it up, the best format to choose and the steps to take it from small beginnings to a major sales channel.