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Live Shopping: The Next Level of Shopping

The shopping industry has experienced massive changes over the years. Traditionally, shopping had to be done in person, going to the stores and browsing through their products. The growth of the internet revolutionized the shopping experience by providing a more convenient option for people to shop from the comforts of their homes via e-commerce platforms. Online marketplaces such as Amazon and eBay started to emerge, quickly gaining popularity for bridging the gap between buyers and sellers. Retail companies, afraid of being left behind, followed suit, either selling their products on an online marketplace or creating their own online shop.

Similar to brick-and-mortar retail stores, competition is just as fierce online, and companies are constantly innovating, trying to come up with a better way to serve their customers and increase sales. A new trend has emerged in 2020, originating from China’s e-commerce giant, Alibaba, that combines online shopping with video live-streaming. Live shopping or live commerce is a modernized version of QVC and home shopping channels of the 1970s that caters to today’s generations. Instead of televisions and placing a call to order the products, live shopping is done completely online, via social media, apps, and websites. Depending on the platform used, audiences often can interact directly with the streamers and buy the products directly on the website - creating an interactive experience where viewers can watch, ask questions, and shop at the same time.

How has e-commerce impacted shopping behavior?

Shopping today is completely different compared to 30 years ago and we have e-commerce to thank for that. E-commerce and online shopping have influenced the way we shop and have become the preferred method of shopping for many. Online shops and marketplace have studied user behaviors and refined the online shopping experience, making them easier and more convenient with every iteration. Most major brands that started as physical retail stores now also sell their products online. A lot of new companies have gone completely online, skipping the physical store entirely.

Customers have been accustomed to being able to shop from anywhere, anytime. We are no longer constrained by store hours and locations. If we see an item we want, it is a click away to be delivered to your front door. In addition to the buying of goods online, online shops and marketplaces have added features that we have grown accustomed to. Comparing prices, discovering new products, discovering related products, and going through product reviews online have now become second nature to us.

Like it or now, online shopping has shaped our shopping habits and expectations. The e-commerce industry is growing and not showing any signs of slowing down, with new features and trends popping up ever so often.

Why live shopping could be the future of shopping?

The home shopping channels have proved to be successful in their time, boosting sales and spreading awareness about the company and the product. Live shopping brings this to a whole new level, significantly reducing the barriers to purchase. According to McKinsey, companies have reported over 30% increase in conversion rates with live shopping compared to regular e-commerce.

Let’s look at a few reasons why live shopping could be a game-changer.

Accelerate conversions

The primary goal of live shopping is to create an entertaining and immersive experience to keep your viewers engaged and convert the viewers into customers. Companies employ various tactics such as one-off coupons that can only be used during the event to boost sales. Live shopping combined with these tactics has proven to be successful based on a McKinsey report, companies experienced a ten-fold increase in conversion rates when leveraging live shopping.

Improve customer experience

Live shopping brings the in-store shopping experience to the digital world. The real-time nature of live streams creates a less formal environment and a greater sense of connection between brands and their customers compared to conventional online stores. Furthermore, the flexibility of live shopping enables brands to be creative with how they run these live events.

Live shopping can come in various formats. Depending on the product and your target audience, one format might be more suitable than the others. The most common formats include:

  • Tutorials - Content showing how to use the product or how to combine the featured product with other products (cross-selling opportunities).
  • Interviews - Interviews with celebrities or influencers from a relevant segment featuring the product. Helps drive traffic to the event and spread awareness about the product.
  • Behind the scenes - Provides an inside story on how or why the company created the product. This helps build a brand image and a loyal customer base.

Companies aren’t limited to using a single format for their live streams. They can use different formats or use a combination that is best suited for the featured product. Live shopping enables companies to exhibit their products in unique ways tailored to their brand, their product, and their audience - creating a more authentic online shopping experience.

Target different segments

Your product might cater to different groups of people. This is why you will often see companies advertise their products on TV, in magazines, on billboards, and online. These companies are casting a large net with each platform catering to a subset of their customer base. A hotel, for example, might advertise on giant billboards on the side of the road, in travel magazines, on travel channels on TV, and on various social media.

Similarly, live shopping brings the shopping experience closer to your potential customers. Companies can use different platforms depending on their target customers. There are two primary paths for companies who want to create a live shopping event. They could either:

Using a third-party platform to host your live shopping event is quick and easy to set up. However, most companies prefer adding a live stream feature directly to your applications as this approach gives more control over the overall customer experience. Companies can leverage the data collected from these sessions to learn more about their customers, providing opportunities to create a more personalized experience.

Continuous improvement via analytics

Because of live shopping’s digital nature, companies have access to accurate data about how each live shopping session performs. These data can range from:

  • Customer data - Who attended the session, what device were the viewers using to watch the event, where are the users tuning in from
  • Overall engagement - Was there a lot of interaction between the streamers and the viewers, what questions were the viewers asking, how long did the average viewer stay for
  • Conversion - How many viewers bought the product being featured, and how many viewers bought other related products

The data collected can then be used to continuously improve the live shopping experience - fixing the flaws and refining the experience to create a better live shopping event in the future. Perhaps a time that works better for your audience or a live stream format that works better for certain types of products. You can continuously experiment with your live streams to find the ideal combination that works for the company, the product, and the viewers.

How brands are using live shopping?

Brands in the beauty and fashion industry are among the first to use live shopping and have had massive success. Swedish company CAIA Cosmetics did its first live stream in October 2019 which resulted in a 5% increase in conversion rate compared to its average website conversions.

Skin and hair care brand Kiehl’s also shared a similar experience. Kiehl’s used live shopping for its Ramadan campaign targeting customers in Malaysia via an “open house” format Instagram Live with Kiehl’s beauty advisors. This strategy proved to be successful for Kiehl’s, experiencing an eightfold return on adspend throughout the seven weeks long campaign.

Bloomingdale’s took a unique spin on live shopping. They mixed in giveaways and raffles for attendees in their live streams to keep their viewers engaged. The department store chain has had 50 live shopping events since the pandemic, each one highly anticipated.


Live shopping is already becoming a trend worldwide, revolutionizing the online shopping landscape. Early adopters of the trend have enjoyed the benefit of increased reach and impact. Customers love the more engaging experience these events bring and companies love the higher conversion rates that go along with it. If you are selling products offline or online, live shopping is a trend that you want to get in on.

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InLive is a platform that focuses on live streaming as a service. InLive uses simple REST APIs with the latest low-latency streaming technology with no complicated server setup, ensuring a quick and easy process to start your first live stream.

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