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Live Shopping and Retail Trends
In China, Live Shopping is projected to hit a $480 billion industry in 2022.

Impressive, right? While the U.S. is trailing at $11 billion, that number is certain to grow, as tech giants are quickly adapting capabilities to join in on the fun. Live Shopping also saw a boost during the height of the pandemic, as did other retail trends that supported online commerce while brick-and-mortar was temporarily shut down. With tech giants like Facebook and Amazon leading the charge, the small sliver of the overall commerce market is steadily growing.

What is Live Shopping, You Might Ask?

Live Shopping is where video livestreaming meets commerce and social media. For many, when Live Shopping comes to mind, so does fast-talking QVC or HSN hosts and the ticking clock in the corner counting down until the next deal. While there are some key similarities, the breadth of Live Shopping is vast. For example, brands have so many options as to where to host and event, how to partner with influencers or creators, to how to create social content and engagement around Live Shopping.

The increased importance of influencers and social being more and more integrated into online commerce are key drivers. The real appeal of Live Shopping for brands is reaching younger shoppers– Gen Z especially–who put a higher value on user-generated content. Live streaming also provides much-needed social proof.

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Personally, I learned more about Live Shopping over the holiday season as Empower held our own Live Shopping events which performed very well and sparked great interest throughout the agency and among clients. Click here to read our top three tips for hosting a successful Live Shopping event.

What Does this Mean for Brands and Advertisers who Prioritize Online Retailers?

As many brands embrace Live Shopping on Instagram Live or Facebook Live, those who invest heavily in retail media will start to see additional options coming from the big retailers like Amazon and Walmart. Connecting retail commitments to Live Shopping will play an integral part in how brands and sellers adopt this trend. So far, Amazon is leading the charge from a big box retailer perspective. Walmart is following suit with increased focus on Live Shopping, now positioned to make a big leap in their Live Shopping capabilities, as they recently partnered with TalkShopLive. The deal came following a collaboration last year where Walmart and TalkShopLive hosted a Live Shopping event across the MSN shopping tab and additional Walmart partner websites.

As our own Chris Reebie outlines here in a recent article, TalkShopLive is a Live Shopping platform which will provide a seamless way for sellers to connect with influencers and eventually host live events on Walmart’s own online environments. Walmart is going to make this tactic available to advertisers within their commerce API–just one more area of investment in retail media planned by Walmart. If successful, the Live Shopping option will become an increasingly valuable route for brands who can use this tactic as part of their retail committed dollars, giving brands another way to reach valuable Walmart audiences within their owned channels.

Amazon has invested heavily with Amazon Live, which has been around since 2016, with their Style Code Live stream that focused heavily on fashion and style trends. This early version was hosted by fashion designers and style influencers, not by brands the way Amazon Live is based today. The new and improved Amazon Live advertising format gives Sellers and Brands a few different routes to utilize Live Shopping. The self-service route is the easiest and lowest investment required where brands can use the Amazon Live Creator app to select a time and date to “go live”. This route can be effective for brands that may have in-house personalities or access to influencer networks, but often reaches a smaller audience than the other Live options.

For another way to get involved, Brands can sponsor established influencers who are hosting livestreams on Amazon through the same app. For larger brands who want to reach a larger audience but at a much larger commitment, Amazon offers Live partnerships where products are featured within Amazon’s own produced shows and be partnered with influencers. It should be noted that these start at a $50k minimum investment.

Beyond driving sales and considerations via Amazon Live, viewers can “follow” a brand on Amazon, something that has become an increasingly important metric for brands who prioritize Amazon as a retail channel over the past year. To maximize the use of brand followers, Amazon has added advanced targeting with their own DSP, allowing advertisers to target brand store shoppers. They have also added a new tool called MYCE (Manage Your Customer Engagement) which sellers can email their followers for free.

Looking Forward

As retailers continue to develop Live Shopping tech and integrations into existing offerings, brands will start to test this new tactic across categories–not just within the beauty or fashion categories (two areas where we’ve seen instant success). Retailers offering an easy path for brands to partner with influencers and content creators will be another key factor that will allow brands to invest more heavily in Live Shopping. The next few years will be critical to make or break the Live Shopping trend. Only time will tell if it becomes a normal part of the media mix for big brands. For now, all we can say is that the potential is there…