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Live Shopping: The Future of E-commerce?

Jamie Landry
January 11, 2024
Last Updated On
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Live shopping is revolutionizing the e-commerce and social media landscape, merging the immediacy of online shopping with the interactivity of social media into one powerhouse. This dynamic trend involves real-time streaming of product showcases, where viewers can purchase items instantly while engaging directly with hosts and brands. It's a game-changer for e-commerce, offering a personalized shopping experience that goes beyond traditional online browsing.

In the realm of social media, live shopping transforms platforms into vibrant marketplaces. Brands leverage these platforms to connect with their audience, demonstrating products and answering questions in realtime. This approach boosts sales and strengthens brand loyalty and customer engagement, making shopping a social and interactive event. As social media continues to evolve, live shopping stands out as a key strategy for brands looking to innovate in the digital marketplace.

This blog explores:

  • What live shopping is. 
  • How live shopping works.
  • The rise of live shopping. 
  • How brands use live shopping on social media.
  • How to get started with live shopping.
  • Live shopping tips for brands. 

What Is Live Shopping?

Live shopping is an interactive online shopping experience that often blends elements of a webinar or basic livestream with e-commerce. It's like a modern, digital twist on traditional home shopping channels, but with the added benefits of social media engagement. During a live shopping event, hosts — who can be influencers, brand representatives or even celebrities — showcase products in realtime, often demonstrating their use and features. Viewers can watch these streams on different platforms, including social media sites, apps or dedicated e-commerce platforms.

What sets live shopping apart is the two-way interaction. Viewers can ask questions, leave comments and get immediate responses from the host. This creates a dynamic and engaging shopping environment that helps build trust and authenticity since viewers can see products in action and get their queries addressed on the spot.

Live shopping sessions often include exclusive deals or limited-time offers, which add an element of urgency and excitement to the shopping experience. This format is particularly popular in fashion and beauty, but it's also rapidly expanding into other sectors like food and beverage. As e-commerce evolves, live shopping is becoming a key strategy for brands looking to meaningfully connect with their audience.

How Does Live Shopping Work?

Live shopping typically begins with a host – often an influencer, brand ambassador or a knowledgeable staff member – initiating a live stream on a digital platform. The host showcases products, demonstrating their features, benefits and sometimes offering tutorials — kind of like a live product review. The key difference here is the live interaction — viewers can watch the stream and engage directly with the host through comments or questions, which makes the experience highly personal.

The technical setup for live shopping is straightforward yet effective. Products are linked within the streaming platform, allowing viewers to make purchases instantly without leaving the stream. This seamless integration of content and commerce is what makes live shopping so appealing for brands and consumers. As the host discusses and demonstrates the products, viewers can click on embedded links or product tags that take them directly to the online store or a checkout page. This process significantly shortens the customer journey from product discovery to purchase, capitalizing on the viewers' immediate interest.

Beyond just a sales tool, live shopping is a powerful medium for brand storytelling and customer engagement. Hosts can share detailed product stories, offer exclusive insights or even provide live tutorials, adding depth to the shopping experience. This format also allows brands to gather real-time feedback and customer insights, which can be invaluable for future product development and marketing strategies. The interactive nature of live shopping helps in building a community around the brand, fostering loyalty and repeat business. 

The Rise of Live Shopping

The evolution of live shopping is a testament to how digital innovation can transform consumer behavior and market dynamics. Originating in Asia, particularly in China, live shopping gained massive popularity as APAC social media platforms like Taobao and JD.com began hosting live streams where influencers and celebrities showcased products. This trend quickly caught on globally, with platforms like Instagram, Facebook and TikTok integrating live shopping features.

In terms of participation, live shopping events attract millions of viewers worldwide. For instance, Alibaba's Singles Day live shopping events have set records, with billions in sales and viewership numbers that rival traditional media broadcasts. In the West, while the numbers are currently smaller compared to Asia, they are growing rapidly. Platforms like Instagram and Facebook have reported significant increases in viewership for their live shopping events. The live commerce industry is expected to reach 60 billion dollars by 2026 in the United States. 

Globally, the numbers are even more impressive, with the live commerce sector in China projected to hit sizable figures over 170 billion dollars in 2024. This growth is driven by the increasing integration of e-commerce and social media platforms, the rising influence of social media personalities and consumer preference for connected and convenient shopping experiences. 

How Brands Use Live Shopping on Social Media

Brands are increasingly turning to live shopping on social media to connect with their audiences in a more engaging and interactive way. This approach combines the immersive experience of live video with the instant gratification of online shopping, creating a powerful platform for brands to showcase their products. 

Sephora 

Sephora hosts events that VIB Rouge members can get invited to, or that customers can redeem points to attend. These live shopping events typically have value added through product demonstrations and tips.

Image credit: Sephora

Poshmark

Posh Shows is Poshmark’s live-streaming platform. Since Poshmark is a platform dedicated to giving life to second-hand clothes, this is a great way for vendors to offer styling tips and show their diverse range of products, and for customers to find one-of-a-kind pieces on the spot and find style inspiration.

Image credit: Poshmark

 Kiehl's

Kiehl's hosts live streams with a range of dedicated skincare experts where viewers can tune in, ask questions, connect with other viewers and shop products directly. This is a great way to get reliable, expert information on products and build community at the same time.

Image credit: Kiehl's

Influencer-Led Amazon Shopping

Amazon employs a diverse range of influencers to share their favorite Amazon products in livestreams. These influencers often have a following from reality shows, a strong online presence or both — this dedicated following is great for encouraging fans to tune in and get audiences excited for product recommendations. Amazon is accessible to many consumers, meaning this platform is a great way to build relatability with audiences.

Image credit: Amazon Live

Get Started With Live Shopping

Starting live shopping can be a game-changer for brands looking to enhance their online presence and sales. Here's a step-by-step approach to start the process.

1. Select Your Platform

The first step is choosing the right platform. Brands should consider where their target audience spends most of their time. Popular choices include social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook and TikTok, which have built-in live-streaming features and a large user base. Some brands may opt for e-commerce platforms like Amazon Live or specialized live shopping platforms that offer additional functionalities.

2. Choose What To Sell 

Deciding on the products to feature in your live shopping event is a strategic decision. It's essential to select items that not only represent your brand well but also appeal to your target audience. Bestsellers, new arrivals or products with a unique story or feature work well. The key is to showcase products that will create excitement and engagement during the live event.

3. Set a Date and Time

Timing is everything. Set a date and time for your live shopping event that maximizes your audience's availability. Consider time zones, work schedules and even typical social media usage patterns of your target demographic. The goal is to choose a time when the majority of your audience can tune in live, ensuring maximum participation and engagement.

4. Plan the Format 

The format of your live shopping event can vary from product demonstrations to interactive Q&As. It's important to decide on a structure that will keep your audience engaged. Choosing the right host — be it a brand ambassador, influencer, or an engaging staff member — is vital. Additionally, consider incorporating interviews, styling advice or other bonus content that adds value to the viewer's experience and showcases your products in the best light.

5. Test Filming Equipment

Technical glitches can detract from the viewer's experience, so it's essential to test your filming equipment beforehand. Ensure you have a stable internet connection, good lighting, clear audio and a high-quality camera. Conduct a trial run to check for any issues and get comfortable with the setup, ensuring a smooth and professional live shopping experience.

6. Promote Your Event

Effective promotion is key to ensuring a successful live shopping event. Utilize your social media channels, email newsletters and website to create buzz around the event. Tease special offers, exclusive content or featured products to pique interest. Remember, the more excitement you build beforehand, the more viewers – and potential customers — you'll have during your live event.By following these steps, brands can create a compelling live shopping experience that not only drives sales but also strengthens customer relationships and enhances brand loyalty.

Social Media Live Shopping Tips for Brands 

As live shopping grows, it's crucial for brands to navigate it effectively. Whether you're starting out or want to refine your strategy, these tips will help your brand make the most of live shopping.

Film Duration 

The length of your live shopping event is a critical factor. While there's no one-size-fits-all duration, many experts suggest aiming for 25-30 minutes or longer. This timeframe allows enough space to showcase products thoroughly, engage with viewers, and create a narrative around your offerings. However, the key is to maintain viewer interest throughout the session, so the content should be dynamic and engaging.

Host 

The choice of host can significantly influence the success of your live shopping event. Select someone who resonates with your target audience – this could be an influencer, a brand ambassador, a charismatic staff member or an industry expert. The host should be knowledgeable about the products, comfortable with live interaction, and capable of keeping the audience engaged.

Influencers — particularly those with a skillset that relates to your product and live shopping session — can significantly amplify live shopping events. This strategy taps into the influencer's established audience, bringing instant credibility and a broader reach to the live event. Try collaborating with makeup artists, financial influencers, chefs and more to bring credibility and valuable education to your viewers. 

Generate Excitement

While showcasing products is the core of live shopping, adding elements of excitement can enhance viewer engagement. Incorporate contests, giveaways, exclusive sales, or raffles to keep the audience intrigued. These promotions not only encourage viewers to participate actively but also create a buzz around the event, potentially attracting a larger audience.

 Incorporate Realtime Analytics and Adapt

Brands should leverage analytics tools to monitor viewer responses and engagement levels during their live event. This data can offer immediate feedback into what users are interested in, their common questions and which products are the most popular. Armed with this information, brands can adjust their presentation on the fly – perhaps by focusing more on a popular item or addressing common questions. This responsive approach improves the viewer experience but also maximizes the effectiveness of the live event in driving sales.

Leverage Storytelling and Product Narratives

Weaving storytelling into product presentations can be a game-changer. This approach lets brands create a narrative or explain the history that might’ve inspired a product to exist in the first place — by sharing the inspiration behind your brand or how it solves a problem or enhances your daily life, your brand can use the entertainment of a compelling story to emotionally connect with viewers. This can also help viewers visualize the product in their own life, add value and differentiate your product from competitors. 

Refine Social Commerce With Dash Hudson

Live shopping is just one part of a potent social commerce strategy. Brands seeking a lift in online conversion rates, overall sales and engagement should have a mix of social commerce tools to ensure they measure they get a comprehensive look at the entire impact of their social commerce efforts. Piqued your user’s interest with a live shopping experience? Make sure your products and services are easy to discover and purchase on social media — LikeShop, for example, bridges the gap between social media content and e-commerce. It allows brands to transform their Instagram feed into a shoppable gallery and link to specific product pages, creating a seamless journey between your content and checkout. Relationships helps brands identify, manage and analyze their collaborations with influencers. By tracking key metrics like engagement rates and ROI, Relationships enables brands to understand which partnerships are most effective and why. By understanding which creators resonate with your brand and audience the most, your team can make informed decisions on which personalities to place front and center in live shopping experiences.  

Community lets brands engage with their audience on various platforms in one central location — from compliments to criticism to customer support. This feature also provides insights into the demographics, preferences and behaviors of your followers. Brands can use this data to tailor their live shopping strategy with language, personalities and products that better suit their audience.

FAQs

How do you promote live shopping?

Start by creating buzz on platforms where your target audience is most active, using eye-catching posts and stories to tease upcoming live shopping events. Collaborate with influencers and industry leaders to amplify your reach, ensuring they share the event details with their followers. Email marketing also plays a crucial role — send out reminders with a direct link to the live shopping page to your subscriber list. Additionally, consider paid advertising on social media to target potential customers based on their interests and online behavior. Remember, the key is to create excitement and anticipation, making your live shopping event a can't-miss experience.

Can you do live shopping on TikTok?

Absolutely, you can engage in live shopping on TikTok. This platform has embraced the live shopping trend, allowing brands to showcase products in real-time, interact with viewers and facilitate instant purchases. By leveraging TikTok's massive, engaged audience, brands can create immersive shopping experiences, tapping into the power of live video to drive sales and build a stronger connection with their audience. This feature is particularly effective for reaching younger demographics who are active on the platform and enjoy interactive, visually-driven content.

Which social media is best for selling products?

The best social media platform for selling products often depends on your target audience and product type. However, Instagram and Facebook are widely regarded as top choices due to their massive user bases and advanced e-commerce features like shoppable posts, stories and marketplace. Instagram, with its visually rich format, is ideal for lifestyle, fashion and beauty brands aiming to engage a younger, image-conscious audience. Facebook, with its diverse demographic, is great for a broader reach and offers detailed targeting options for ads. Both platforms provide robust analytics, helping businesses refine their strategies and connect effectively with potential customers.

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