[Dossier] Live shopping, a new sales channel – Retail Strategy > Retail

A powerful business phenomenon in China, live shopping – launched in 2016 on Alibaba Singles Day (Singles Day, November 11) – already accounts for 10% of Chinese e-commerce volume. This market recorded an annual growth of 121.5% in 2020 to reach 154 billion dollars (source KPMG). “We need to approach new generations of consumers through appropriate communication channels, underlines Diaa Elyaacoubi Bouriez, CEO of Monnier Frères, an online platform for luxury accessories. Live shopping is the fusion between teleshopping, social networks, entertainment and, finally, reality shows.

In France, the development of live shopping has benefited from Covid and the confinements with the closure of some of the so-called “non-essential” stores. Consumers are shopping more online since the health crisis. In October 2020, the Fnac Darty group – a pioneer in the French market – organizes its first launch session for Microsoft’s new Xbox, broadcast on the commercial websites of the two brands and on the social network Twitch. Live shopping brings together more than 5,500 people. Other distributors are following suit: Leroy Merlin in partnership with the brand AEG, specialist in power tools, Nocibé, Boulanger… Tech giants have also joined: Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Amazon. In late November, Twitter tried out Walmart in the United States, the world’s No. 1 retailer.

Recreate a link between the consumer and the brand in e-commerce

“Live shopping is duplicated across very different types of products, highlights Arnaud Cartigny, vice president responsible for consulting activities for the Retail sector at CGI Business Consulting. All brands are convinced by this movement because it helps to recreate a link between the consumer and the brand in e-commerce. Brings advice from a product sheet to life. The novelty is in the interaction, in the possibility of asking questions live.” 67% of French people say they are interested in this new form of online commerce, according to a study by Forrester Consulting, commissioned by AliExpress, published last February. The three qualities presented are reliability (watching a live demo of a product), prices and the ability to shop instantly. This mode of sale seems to particularly appeal to young women under 25 years of age. 52% of them show interest and 49% think they will use it in the next six months (OpinionWay study for Altavia, February 2021). Consumer expectations of “shoppertainment” (a concept that combines online shopping and entertainment) are higher in certain product categories, in particular electronics, fashion and cosmetics. “We project our live TV shows on distributor websites, explains Antoine Leclercq, founder of Caast, a digital commercial animation solution. In some of them, we reached more than 200,000 euros in sales in 60 minutes, mainly in the high-tech sector. Live shopping gives you peace of mind with the participation of a brand ambassador and, often, a target-aligned influencer. The objective remains to drive sales, creating a sense of urgency and therefore an emotional dimension. Repetition, depending on the products, is often a strong driver of transformation.

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“Live shopping is the fusion of teleshopping, social networks, entertainment and reality shows” Diaa Elyaacoubi Bouriez, CEO of Monnier Frères

Find the advertising and commercial martingale

If e-commerce conversion rates remain low, between 1 and 3% on average, they fluctuate between 15 and 35% in live purchases (Gartner study). “Customers don’t just buy one item with live purchases, analysis Maguelone Paré, concept and innovation director at Monoprix. We build stories that are educational and fun around the products. This creates a very qualitative scenario with a higher average basket. This new way of shopping does not replace in-store advice or traditional e-commerce, but becomes a new element of the relationship with the customer. The distributor tried it on this fall during two sessions: the new cashmere collection (the brand’s iconic one) and the wine fair. Another three live shopping events were held at the end of the year, with an average of one per month.

In turn, Carrefour tested it from November 2020 opportunistically, due to the closure of non-essential departments in the middle of the pre-Christmas period, in the toy activity. “Immediately we set up a very aggressive logic in terms of live, says Olivier Garcia, the brand’s non-food e-commerce director (since April). The goal was to understand this new way of marketing products and be able to reduce our learning curve.” About thirty live shows were offered on Carrefour’s various websites and social networks. “This multiplicity allows us to test various mechanisms (promotions, contests, inviting known influencers or not…), but above all to be able to try different categories of products”, highlights Olivier Garcia. Topics as far away as childcare, travel but also the wine fair, through games or technical products to find the advertising and commercial martingale. Some live purchases aim to get immediate ROI, others are purely for marketing, advertising, branding, etc. “We achieved our best commercial and traffic performance in gaming activities, a young and very digital clientele, as well as in the live kitchen, notes Carrefour’s non-food e-commerce director. The wine fair, a commercial highlight, allowed us to achieve a record in terms of turnover and processing. Several hundred thousand euros were generated during the event based on 50,000 spectators.”

A still little-known business practice

The promotional offer during the live remains the first lever of transformation. Specific promotions that stop a few hours after the event (usually at midnight). However, although brands and e-commerces are developing this commercial system more regularly, 87% of French people say they have never heard of this way of shopping (Altavia study). Only 3% used it and 6% for Generation Z (young people under 25). “When we started live shopping last March, we were ready to do this almost every day, highlights Diaa Elyaacoubi Bouriez, CEO of Monnier Frères. Very quickly, we realized that the French market was not mature enough for this frequency, even from a technological point of view. In Europe, we have to appeal to external companies to include the live shopping block in the e-commerce platform. Integrating payment remains a headache, as does audio. These issues don’t exist on Asian platforms.”

Read too: Carrefour and Brut. join forces to create a common live shopping platform

In less than two years, different players have entered this market: Quidol, Livewan, Caast, Spockee… to streamline the purchase process throughout the experience. “We are convinced that live shopping will play an important role in our e-commerce business for years to come, highlights Olivier Garcia. It’s up to the retail and e-commerce players to mature this new way of doing business.”

Retailers and e-merchants launch their live shopping channel

Monnier Frères launched live shopping last March, creating its dedicated channel after a year-long experiment in China (the e-tailer is in the Top 10 Live Shopping Team on Alibaba’s Tmall platform). “The new generation is fed up with entertainment and is very demanding, highlights the leader, Diaa Elyaacoubi Bouriez. If the narrative isn’t level, it zaps.” In another sector, with Sephora, the brand launched its Sephora TV channel in April, bringing together 11 European countries, highlighting brands, founders, influencers and associations. Nearly ten live shopping events were held. “The idea is to share new trends and consolidate our position by offering exclusive content, highlights Soumia Hadjali, Digital Director for Europe and Middle East. The challenge is not so much transactional as serving an augmented and unique experience playing on the interactive side with our communities.”

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