For those old enough to remember the ThighMaster Infomercial, seeing the rise of live shopping is kind of a throwback. QVC-style sessions hosted by influencers are now every brand's dream. Platforms like YouTube, Meta, Amazon, and Tik Tok are betting on their native live shopping solution matching influencers, sellers, and shoppers. At the same time, brands like Sephora push live shopping events on their own sites.
China has been the pioneer of Live Shopping. In 2016 Alibaba launched Taobao Live, introducing, as Mckinsey Digital puts it, "a powerful new approach: linking up an online livestream broadcast with an e-commerce store to allow viewers to watch and shop at the same time." And since then, the live shopping trend has taken off.
Livestream shopping comes in many shapes and platforms. From a creative TikToker like Karissa, who crafts personalized resin cups while her audience watches, comments, and buys; to dedicated platforms such as Whatnot, where early adopters earn up to $20K monthly selling clothes live from their living rooms.
Pulling off a live shopping strategy sounds perfect for DTC brands, and the technical implementation is relatively simple. For Shopify stores, there are many apps to host live shopping events and stream them on different social platforms.
These apps connect the store's inventory so that products featured on the live streams are easily accessible to buy with just one click. Youtube even launched a Shopify integration to connect store products with youtube live streams.
The real challenge for brands is not the platform. Live shopping requires planning, production, and two main ingredients: A host and an audience. However, not every brand is owned by a Kardashian . Having a social media-friendly spokesperson ready to jump behind the camera, go live, and sell the product is not that easy. Partnering with influencers is a good solution since brands can capitalize on the content creator's audience to push shopping live streams. Another recommendation is to create buzz around the events with tactics such as sign-ups, save the dates, email reminders, shopping incentives for attendees, and an event calendar dedicated page on the site.
Live shopping has evolved since QVC launched in 1986, especially after the Internet exploded. 1-800 hundred numbers became shop now buttons in the palm of our hands. Influencers replaced tv hosts. Platforms multiplied exponentially, and so have the chances to buy things we don't need, like that ThighMaster that collected dust under the bed of quite a few gen Xers in the 90s. But the basics stay the same. Brands need a product, an audience, and a charismatic salesperson to go live and sell. Isn't it ironic?