Can you imagine spending hours watching someone sell items online in real-time? It might sound bizarre but this is a phenomenon that has been growing steadily in recent years. Providing a convenient personalised shopping experience aside, online shopping is a safe haven for most introverts. No large crowds, no judgemental sales assistants and most importantly, no social interaction necessary. However, when 2020 hit, this zero contact safe haven became an essential part of the lives of even the most non-tech-savvy shoppers as the pandemic forced lockdowns of millions of retailers around the world. Forcibly being restrained within the home, many started turning to shows and online shopping to release stress, and more to live shopping for the combined experience (or shopatainment therapy).
So what exactly is live selling? It’s a new e-commerce strategy where sellers use live video streaming platforms such as Facebook and Instagram to sell and connect with shoppers. The seller will do a live demonstration of the products they are selling to their viewers on the livestream and implement ways in which they can buy the item. Live selling streams often rely on honest interaction and the seller’s engaging personality where the customers trust that the seller will provide the most honest feedback for their benefit. During the live, viewers can also ask questions about the products and give reactions. Unlike traditional sales and marketing, live selling often provides a higher rate of conversion and sales.
What started as a large venture point in East Asia, especially China and South Korea, the live commerce strategy is slowly becoming an indispensable part of an e-commerce strategy for many brands across the world. According to a McKinsey report on China’s live selling progress, the service grew more than 280 percent between 2017 and 2020, and thanks to the pandemic, it was estimated to be around US$171 billion in 2020.
In South Korea, many have also turned to selling on YouTube to gain an even wider reach of customers. Back here in Southeast Asia, this trend has slowly but surely been growing with sellers in the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore exploring and growing their business through the most popular Facebook Live. In Singapore alone, it was reported that conversations around livestreams and online shopping had seen an increase of 1,890 percent on forums and social media since March 2020 (Meltwater). Intelligence firm iKala also reported how Singapore’s average social commerce by orders jumped by a whooping 155 percent(2020) leading to an increase in revenue.
You may wonder what makes live selling so irresistible. Ever heard of Singapore’s favourite “S-hooks Ah Lian”? 30-year-old Lerine Yeo shot to fame after a video of her selling a top on her live shop (Misshopper Boutique), and her ability to sell almost anything with her unique flair (if you haven’t watched her selling a $9 black T-shirt with holes in it, please do). She’s one of many sellers who have turned to livestreaming her sales in recent years.
However,what she proves is how live selling succeeds by closing the gap between seller and customer. With easily available answers and a human figure before them, the buyer experience is enhanced. There comes the comfort of shopping at home but with a unique ‘human touch’. Some buyers enjoy the human touch provided while others enjoy the thrill of shopping (since more often than not, the items go to the fastest fingers). As the number of hours spent online with the seller increases (most lives run from between 4-6 hours), more often than not, impulse purchases are made thus automatically increasing sales conversion rate and the average amount spent. What live shopping encourages is a strong indescribable sense of connection between the seller and customer that will encourage more shopping in comparison to normal online shopping with no human interaction.
Turning to live selling not only allows the seller a flexibility of time, but also caters to the customer’s own comfort. They can literally shop from the comfort of their own homes. Therefore live commerce is becoming an essential part of e-commerce strategy for many brands. The key to surviving and doing well in a cutthroat industry such as sales is to spot trends before it becomes mainstream. And here, while the live selling industry is growing, it has not yet become the mainstream. But why wait, jump on board the live selling train and watch your business grow.
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