The livestreaming shopping market is booming, with big retailers now investing in the practice as a high-touch way to engage with shoppers. Andre Hordagoda, Co-CEO and Co-Founder of Go Instore, looks at why a successful livestream solution must deliver consumer data to improve future experiences.
Whilst being an important component for many, stores will never fully return to the forefront of retail. Consumer behaviours have changed forever with over 74% of European consumers saying they have no intention of reducing their online shopping levels. The shift to digital doesn’t mean shoppers expect less from their engagements with retailers, in fact quite the opposite. Indeed 84% of customers say the experience a company provides is as important as its products or services, so retailers must consider the digital shopping experience as part of their planning, particularly as store location, convenience and window displays become less powerful.
Technological innovations such as live video enable retailers to deliver exceptional experiences online. Live video humanises what would otherwise be impersonal digital channels and allows retailers to share their most powerful sales assets, their staff, and their stores, with the largest possible audience – the internet. Live video solutions can enable customers to have better access to the entire customer journey. Rather than just browsing a website, customers can connect with staff and the brand in a way they couldn’t before, to develop a direct relationship with a retailer, its products, developing a sense of why it values them as a customer. Having the ability to take the customer from browsing to conversion is the key to competing in a saturated market. One way that retailers can take this one step further and provide advice and expertise the whole way through the purchasing journey is through interactive one-to-one and one-to-many livestreaming.
Livestreaming has been a tremendous source of business for eCommerce brands in China for the last few years. In 2019, 265 million people made purchases from livestreams. So, why are Western retailers falling behind Eastern markets on a trend that’s proved popular and highly successful?
The fact is that customers in the UK, US and Europe love the in-store experience. 74% of UK consumers said they missed the in-store experience before lockdown restrictions eased. But this experience which customers crave can be replicated online. Livestreaming combines the convenience of online shopping with the personability that in-store consumers receive, to accommodate the changing customer base. Livestreaming allows store staff to demonstrate products and provide advice to a larger audience, who can ask questions directly, removing the friction associated with online shopping. With this reduced friction, and by placing livestreams onto category and product pages, shoppers can make purchases simpler and are less likely to abandon carts, an issue plaguing retailers since the dawn of eCommerce.
A spotlight on sustainability
The future of retail will have a heightened focus on sustainability. With climate change impacting every inch of the retail sector, brands must focus on making their processes more sustainable. Live video solutions allow customers to get advice and product demonstrations from experts and consider their purchase and how it fits their lifestyle without leaving their homes. Understanding the suitability of an item is particularly poignant when 30% of shoppers deliberately over-purchase and subsequently return unwanted items. By watching a livestream where the product is demonstrated, and where questions can be asked, customers get the necessary information instantly. This feedback reduces the need to over-order, thus reducing the likelihood of returns, which has cost implications for both the retailer and consumer, but also helps reduce carbon emissions.
The increased demand of ‘phygital’ retail is also something retailers must respond to. Retailers who can balance physical and digital are becoming more popular with consumers, as those retailers allow them to shop via both channels. Leveraging staff to the fullest is vital to competing with this. When store traffic is low, enabling staff to livestream ensures that their expert knowledge is not being wasted but is instead being used to serve online customers. By capitalising on quiet stores and consumer data, retailers can broadcast specific livestreams at times where this happens. Not only does this allow retailers to show an in-demand product, it also gives brands the option to be flexible in their approach to omnichannel, and how they respond to their customers.
The future of retail is rapidly approaching, and retailers need to respond before they get left behind. Partnering with technology companies to deliver livestreaming solutions can optimise their online channel and provide enhanced, personalised experiences for their customers as well as limit environmental impact. Allowing consumers to interact with staff, ask questions and make considered purchases can improve the customer experience, increase customer satisfaction scores and help customers feel more connected to the brand and the live expert. Just because the future of retail is digital doesn’t mean the human element has to be lost. Ultimately, after all, people buy from people.
By Andre Hordagoda
Co-CEO and Co-Founder