In 2021, the Chinese “live-commerce” platform Taobao made $6 billion in sales on Singles Day. Yes, you read that right. One platform. One day. Six billion dollars. If that’s not enough to grab the attention of any brand manager or e-commerce executive, we don’t know what is.
Live commerce is when businesses or people—such as big-name influencers and celebrities—sell promoted products to their audience in real time. They also interact with audience members, answer their questions, give them advice, and banter with them during the sales process. As Taobao’s Singles Day figures suggest, live shopping (or live commerce) is already huge in China.
The phenomenon massively increases consumer engagement with brands and uses the interactivity of video in a way that Western merchants just aren’t doing, at least yet. In merely five years, live commerce has established itself as one of the major sales channels in China.
By joining one of these live streams, customers can ask their questions either to the influencer or to the supporting staff. This is much faster and more engaging than simply using text-based searches. It also moves the conversation out of the search engines and onto a platform the brand itself controls, allowing it to communicate with consumers directly and to choose both the information it wants to provide and the tone of voice it wants to use.
Despite these advantages, Western brands and online retailers are still slow to start leveraging live shopping. Most haven’t even tried the tactic yet, which means they have a lot to learn. But the companies brave enough to be the first movers have the opportunity to massively boost their brand recognition and sales.
Live video transforms the customer experience
According to the Zendesk Customer Experience Trends Report 2022, 90% of consumers place a high value on authenticity. Other than speaking to a salesperson face-to-face—which is still a valuable part of the sales journey but not one that companies can scale—no experience is more immediate, impactful, or authentic than live video.
No experience is more immediate, impactful, or authentic than live video.
During a live-shopping stream, customers can choose to simply watch. They can interact with the influencer presenting the stream and with the support staff. They can interact with each other. And, of course, they can buy—usually with a single click.
It’s a unique and compelling experience, something that is reflected in the results. A 2021 study found that adding a live video stream to sales channels delivers a conversion rate of up to 30%—ten times higher than the average for normal e-commerce.
Adding support to the live-shopping experience
To enjoy these benefits, brands must ensure that the live-shopping experience—and everything around it—runs without a hitch and to the highest possible standards. That requires integrating customer support into the experience.
If a shopper has a question or a problem during the live-shopping event, they must be able to get help with the click of a mouse through whatever channel they choose—whether it’s live chat, an AI-driven bot, or email. Support agents should be on hand with all the information they need to answer questions in real time. And the platforms those agents use should feed into a single source of truth. That way, if a customer has a conversation with one agent, goes away for a while, and then comes back through another channel to speak to another agent, the experience is seamless and productive. Most importantly, it gets the customer to the result they need as quickly as possible, culminating in a positive experience. It may lead to a sale, too.
While Western brands have a lot of catching up to do, some are already making live shopping a part of their go-to-market strategy. In 2021, fashion brand Tommy Hilfiger used live shopping in its Singles Day strategy. The result? Over $1 million in sales on the campaign’s opening day—the biggest ever for the company. Tommy Hilfiger now incorporates live shopping into its strategy not just for Asia but also for Europe and North America.
Tommy Hilfiger used live shopping in its Singles Day strategy. The result? Over $1 million in sales on the campaign’s opening day.
By adding live shopping to your customer experience strategy—and supporting it with an integrated, intelligent, responsive, and scalable customer service operation—you can increase your conversion rates, improve brand engagement, and boost your sales.