The rise of ‘shoppertainment’ such as Livestreaming Commerce platforms and shoppable videos, is becoming a growing trend. Philip Rooke, CEO at €130m ecommerce firm, Spread Group looks at why this new format doesn’t just work for big brands with big budgets; start-up brands and YouTuber creators can do it too.
The AliExpress research suggests ‘shoppertainment’ is the next trend to hit Europe. We’re already seeing this in practice on our platform as video becomes the new shop-the-image. Brands and influencers are placing merch and products alongside a video. This is the right place to add in an option to buy, where the consumer is already engaged and looking to deepen the involvement.
The way forward for shopping is that it happens in the middle of something else. For example; Erik Aanderaa has integrated his YouTube merch shelf with Spreadshop on his ‘No Bullshit Just Sailing’ channel. He’s somewhat of an extreme sailor. You’ll search in vain for turquoise blue seas and secret bays in his videos. Instead there are breath-taking images of the Norwegian coast and the Atlantic Ocean. Erik wears his merch in his videos – t-shirts and hats – and notices that it has a huge effect on the sales. For YouTubers like Erik, this is a way to monetize his content and continue to fund his side-hustle. Monetizing merch helps to keep creators funded and in business. Consumers might not pay to watch the video, but it seems they will pay to get the t-shirt.
This trend started in Asia where brands have been combining video and commerce. The expectations of ecommerce platforms are very different. It’s not enough to offer frictionless buying and rapid delivery. Alibaba’s Taobao hosts music concerts and offers short clips or live streams of many of its products. On TikTok, users will be able to shop as they scroll through its short-form videos via a new deal with ecommerce platform Shopify.
In China Shoppertainment, or social commerce sales are predicted to grow dramatically according to eMarketer. Sales are expected to ‘nearly double to Rmb3.280tn ($474.81bn) by 2023. That’s nearly 10 times the number of sales in the US, which reached $19.42 billion last year’ compared to China’s $186.04 billion (RMB1.285 trillion). Over in the USA, Facebook launched its Shops platform of digital storefronts last summer and YouTube began testing a Shopify integration for creators.
In the UK we already have one of the largest and most advanced ecommerce markets within Europe. In 2019 ecommerce represented £200bn, one quarter of all UK retail sales. The prediction is that this trend will continue, with ecommerce reaching nearly a third of sales in the UK by 2024 .
The steady growth of ecommerce in the UK has been dramatically affected by the coronavirus. As in-store retail has suffered, the focus has moved to the online experience. While consumers can’t go to the shops for entertainment so easily, the virtual world has become a place for entertainment, as well as shopping.
One beneficiary of this shift are companies that offer live streaming gaming technology, like Twitch. Burberry says it will harness Twitch technology in its Spring/Summer 2021 fashion show, which means viewers can see multiple perspectives and communicate through the chat function… just as if they were at the show in real life.
The advantage of shoppertainment for UK brands and creators is clear; it offers different ways to monetize online content. By the time the consumer is checking out a video, they are engaged and have developed a relationship with the brand. Shopping and buying are now happening in the middle of live streams.
On YouTube, creators and organisations are taking advantage of this new way to generate revenue. For example; space fans can now find merch from the European Space Agency collection such as “There is no Planet B” or “Extra Terrestrial” among the ESA’s videos”.
The important thing here is to combine entertainment with easy commerce. The best way to do that is to show the merch or clothing next to the video, where interest is greatest, to offer shopping without interruption.
Like TikTok connecting with Shopify, YouTube has recently partnered with one of our brands, Spreadshop, to provide this service.
We enable YouTube creators to post their merch offering immediately under their videos. Rather than having to act as retailers as well as creators, we offer print-on-demand and cover all the backend fulfilment services. So the customer gets seamless shopping and the creator doesn’t have to hold any stock or manage taxes, payments and returns. TikTok and Shopify will turn existing product imagery into videos for shoppable ads.
Video plus commerce has created shoppertainment. It’s a way of improving the serendipity of online shopping that’s often missing. It’s easy to come across something new when strolling down the high street or visiting the independent stores of the back streets. It’s much harder when searching on Amazon. Fashion brands and internet creators are already offering surprising and delightful experiences though their content. This increases the chance of consumers buying the associated original designs whether on merch or from a new season’s collection.
The potential success of shoppertainment in the UK is the combination of technology and the customer desire coming together at the same time. Brands, retailers and creators can all adapt social commerce to suit their level, their followers and customers. Entertainment and frictionless commerce are going to be the big trend of retail in 2021.
By Philip Rooke