Trend in E-Commerce or soon to be the future?

Since its emergence in China in 2016, Live-Commerce has quickly developed from an emerging trend to an established sales format that is now gaining popularity worldwide. This innovative method combines two central pillars of digital commerce: E-Commerce and live streaming. In this blog article, we take a look at the basics of Live-Commerce, its benefits and how companies can successfully implement this strategy.

Live-Commerce is a form of E-Commerce that is based on the proven concept of teleshopping. One person presents products during a programme and viewers can order them directly. But unlike traditional teleshopping, Live-Commerce does not take place on television, but on company websites, in live streaming applications or on social media. A key advantage of Live-Commerce is the merging of offline and online shopping experiences, offering customers an interactive and immersive shopping experience. And anyone who believes that this is only possible for fashion and beauty companies is mistaken. Anyone can do Live-Commerce, even in the food sector.

Symbol image for live commerce with a person during a live streaming

What is Live-Commerce?

Live-Commerce refers to events where products and services are offered and sold in a live stream on digital platforms. In addition to the company’s own website, social media channels such as Facebook are predestined for this, as are video portals such as YouTube. This does not include sales on television (teleshopping). These live events offer an interactive experience, as the

  • Viewers interact with the sellers
  • Viewers can ask questions directly
  • Viewers can discuss with other prospective buyers

E-Commerce giants such as Amazon and Alibaba now also offer Live-Commerce via their respective platforms.

Advantages of Live-Commerce

With Live-Commerce, products are presented in real time. The special thing is that customers not only get the feeling that they are in a shop via the digital touchpoints, but also have the opportunity to interact directly with the sales staff. This allows viewers to ask questions and give feedback in real time, while the sales staff respond immediately and address the customer’s needs. Viewers can also discuss with other prospective buyers. As the interaction takes place in an entertaining and personal atmosphere, the shopping experience is enriched and the customer’s decision-making process is influenced. The advantages are obvious:

  1. Increased customer loyalty: Live-Commerce promotes interaction and engagement. Viewers can communicate directly with the presenters, ask questions and receive immediate answers, which leads to a stronger sense of connection.
  2. Authenticity: Real-time interaction gives customers an authentic shopping experience. Live demonstrations of products and discussions with other viewers help to build trust and strengthen the credibility of the products.
  3. Better conversion rates: Direct interaction and the ability to respond to customer enquiries in real time can lead to higher conversion rates as customers are encouraged to make purchasing decisions more quickly through expert advice.
  4. Extended reach: Live-Commerce makes it possible to reach a wider audience, as the streams can be broadcast on various platforms such as social media, websites or special apps.
  5. Fewer returns: A detailed and realistic product presentation in the livestream gives viewers a better impression and can therefore reduce the number of incorrect purchases. This can have a positive effect on the returns rate.

Characteristics of Live-Commerce

Live-Commerce can be carried out in 1:1 sessions (one to one) or in 1:n sessions (one to many). Store employees, specially trained employees from a warehouse, influencers and opinion leaders as well as virtual promoters can take over the moderation.

  • 1:1 video call: An employee can support a customer in their purchase decision by demonstrating the products in the shop, showing different variants or styles or providing detailed information. Video calls can also be used for after-sales support, for example during set-up, fault diagnosis or the processing of repairs and warranty claims in shops or warehouses.
  • 1:1 co-browsing: Here, an employee goes shopping together with the customer and, for example, products are browsed through and placed in the shopping basket, similar to personalised product suggestions in a physical shop environment.
  • 1:n live streaming: Here, a provider broadcasts live sales events in real time, demonstrating products and their functions and use cases to multiple viewers. The customer can communicate directly with the provider during the event or meeting. Many 1:n livestreams involve working with influencers, key opinion leaders (KOLs) or brand ambassadors. However, virtual promoters are now also being used who, with the help of AI, represent a cost-effective alternative to conventional influencers in the creation of marketing content.

Channels for Live-Commerce

The widespread use of smartphones and ubiquitous online payment options have led to live shopping in China becoming a billion-dollar business. However, interest in live shopping is now also growing among European consumers, especially Gen Z. The following are possible channels through which Live-Commerce can be operated:

  1. Company website / online store: Live shopping is carried out here in the company’s own channel. This is made possible by the integration of providers or their plug-ins on the website or in the online shop. These include providers such as LiveScale and Bambuser. The big advantage of “in-house streaming” is that viewers are already familiar with the respective company and its products. Brands such as IKEA, Douglas and Zalando organise their own live events in their shops.
  2. Social Media: Facebook, Instagram and TikTok offer their own live formats. However, as Meta announced at the beginning of 2023, it is no longer possible to tag products in the live stream, i.e. to link them directly. The situation is similar with TikTok. Although live streaming is also possible here, after an unsuccessful test phase of shopping functions in Europe, TikTok has decided against expanding these shopping features. On the other hand, YouTube (YouTube Live) and Twitch offer real live shopping opportunities.
  3. Apps: There are a variety of live shopping apps and each of them offers its users different functions and options. Some focus on 1:1 live shopping, while others target a broader audience with 1:n live shopping. Of course, companies are also free to have their own live shopping app developed, as Otto did with its live shopping app for Apple TV at the beginning of 2024.
  4. E-Commerce platforms: Amazon has its own live format called Amazon Live. However, this is currently only available in the USA. Taobao Live, from Alibaba, is the Chinese equivalent and forerunner of live shopping.

Provider in the Live-Commerce sector

Below is a list of live commerce providers that offer at least the functionality of live streaming sales from retailers to customers – either one-to-one, one-to-many or both:

Headquarters America
Headquarters EMEA
Headquarters APAC

Live-Commerce and the influencers

Influencers or key option leaders (KOLs) have become an indispensable part of the live shopping experience. Through their authentic nature, they not only help to build trust and credibility in the community, but also increase reach and create a deep connection with the audience. This is why companies like to rely on influencers, especially when addressing younger target groups, in order to benefit from their far-reaching influence and popularity in Live-Commerce.

What needs to be considered?

Live-Commerce creates a unique opportunity to interact with customers in real time, gain valuable insights and drive sales. However, success in this area requires solid support in the form of personnel, time and investment in technology. Organisations looking to embrace Live-Commerce must be prepared to overcome technical challenges, invest in training and resources, develop effective content strategies and dedicate themselves to building a loyal audience.

  • The right platform and the CIO: When choosing the right streaming platform, it is important to make the decision based on the target group and the functions that are required. For CIOs, this results in the task of supporting the company in the technical implementation. This includes not only the implementation of the streaming platform, but also the implementation of a system that is capable of processing the high order volumes that can arise during live commerce campaigns. Furthermore, a stable internet connection and high-quality technical equipment, including the necessary devices and live streaming cameras, are essential to ensure professional and disruption-free live commerce events.
  • Develop a strategy: Live-Commerce also requires a well thought-out strategy, because successful streaming requires careful planning. To this end, the competences and tasks must be clearly distributed in advance (e.g. via an agency or a dedicated internal team). You can then address questions such as: Which products should be presented, how should they be presented and what kind of interactions should be encouraged in order to develop scripts for hosts and influencers. The content created should offer added value, be exciting and fit the target group. In addition, it is necessary to plan marketing activities in a targeted manner in order to ensure effective implementation.
  • The presenter: To keep viewers interested for as long as possible, it is advisable to use charismatic and authentic presenters. These can be external parties, but also the company’s own staff. If a company uses its own staff, it is also important that the person in question can handle calls and personal interactions effectively in a partly virtual environment. This requires an adapted strategy in the recruitment and training of sales staff as well as appropriate remuneration.
  • Nice setting: The viewers see the presenter as well as the background of the broadcast. It is therefore important to carefully select a visually appealing environment for the live session. A well-considered choice of background can not only enhance the visual experience for your audience, but also emphasise the professionalism and overall atmosphere of the presentation.
  • Test, test, test: It is advisable to go through the transfer process in an offline rehearsal beforehand in order to be as well prepared as possible. This preparation allows you to think through the entire process, identify and resolve potential problems and familiarise yourself with the content and technology. Such a dress rehearsal not only helps to minimise technical difficulties, but also increases the safety of the moderation team and improves the quality of the actual live broadcast.
  • Targeted promotion of live sessions: Live shopping is not as widespread in Germany as it is in China. For this reason, companies must specifically promote their activities in this area. Social media and other marketing channels should be used to inform the target group about upcoming live sessions and generate interest.
  • Actively interact with the audience: During a live session, questions will arise that are either addressed directly to the presenter or arise among the audience. Companies should actively respond and answer comments to create a welcoming atmosphere and build trust. It is also advisable to formulate possible questions in advance in order to be better prepared.
  • Analyse and optimise: Through real-time communication, companies not only receive feedback, but also data from their live sessions (e.g. viewer numbers, traffic and viewer engagement). These help to continuously improve the strategy and optimise the experience for your own audience.

Final thought: Live-Commerce

Live-Commerce doesn’t currently have the hype here as it does in China. Nevertheless, this new format should not be swept under the carpet. As customers expect more these days, they favour interactive and informative shopping experiences. And this is the undeniable advantage of Live-Commerce. No other E-commerce format comes as close to offline shopping, i.e. physical shopping, as Live-Commerce. For both buyers and sellers, because queries and feedback are made directly and in real time. And it is a misconception that this sales technique can only be used by companies in the fashion and beauty industry. Live-Commerce is an option for all companies that can present their products to an audience – be it in the form of tutorials (product demonstrations, cross-selling options, etc.), interviews with experts (e.g. to share tips) or as part of insider stories (e.g. sustainability efforts). It opens up further sales channels, which can be expected to become established in our E-commerce practices in the coming years, with the associated technologies also being further developed.

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