Retailers scrambled this past year to alter the physical experience of the customer to meet customer expectations and government regulations. With the reduction in foot traffic to stores and opportunities for delivering an amazing in-person experience, retailers have to figure out how to bring the warmth of talking to a knowledgeable sales associate to the virtual world.

As retailers and brands try to increase the intimacy and immediacy of the online experience, live video streaming is coming to the forefront as a way to directly engage with shoppers when they can’t come to a store. It’s the old QVC experience remixed and retooled for our always-online lifestyle. Brands are partnering with influencers who are well-known by their customers to help them make informed purchases and keep current with what a particular brand or product category is doing.

When InTime – China’s leading department store chain – shuttered as COVID-19 raged through the country, the retailer encouraged sales associates to broadcast live streams from their phones to continue to build rapport with shoppers and to explain the products, including how they work and the variety available.

Chinese department store chain, In-Time, livestreams employees

Chinese department store chain, In-Time, livestreams employees

Over 5,000 sales associates from InTime’s stores participated in this livestreaming program with an average of 200 streams a day on Taobao Live, Alibaba’s live streaming platform. If a viewer sees a product they like during the stream, they can simply tap on the interface to purchase immediately along with any special discounts and coupons applied at checkout. In just three-hours of streaming sessions, InTime reported the same amount of visitors as six months in the store.

And of course as with any burgeoning retail technology, Amazon is in the game with its Amazon Live service offering a large selection of streams and categories to watch. Amazon Live has courted brands as well as influencers with commissions on products sold that are promoted in their video streams.

Here’s what to keep in mind:

L'Oréal Paris brings Cannes Film Festival 'feels' to duty free & travel retail

L’Oreal sent a trio of Chinese celebrities to the Cannes Film Festival to livestream.

Partner with influencers and your employees.

One way to start with livestreaming is to begin with conventional livestreams like Twitch or Instagram with influencers who are popular and credible to your target market. L’Oreal sent a trio of Chinese celebrities to the Cannes Film Festival to stream
behind the scenes content including mentions of new product releases. The streams garnered over 160 million likes and L’Oréal sold out of the lipstick line that was featured throughout the segments.

Use the right products.

Livestreams are well-suited for products that are impulse buys, and the
immediacy of the livestream communicates the urgency of a particular purchase or discount. They’re also good for products that require demonstration or explanation to best show off a product and its options.

Show the community.

Livestreams can break the shopper out of that feeling of isolation they may have in a solo shopping experience at home. They can see that others are watching the stream and even engaging with the people on the stream. Be sure to evoke this in the marketing, content, and interface so shoppers get a sense that they are part of a global viewership watching the same stream.

Selling on social media was picking up momentum before Covid-19 hit. If you’re not onboard with livestreaming already, time to get on the wagon! Livestreaming is going to be a crucial part of the customer experience in the coming year. Spotlight influencers and employees with the right products and connect your global community. Check out this blog for more tips: What You Need To Implement Contactless Retail.