The pandemic has created a world where almost every shopper has become a digital consumer as stores closed and the only way to buy anything other than groceries was more or less to go online. But as PYMNTS consumer surveys have shown, what started out as a “have to” for many people has since become a “want to” in terms of consumers’ actual shopping preferences.
While consumers’ desire to return to “the old commerce normal” varied widely across different demographics, our surveys show many consumers want merchants to offer digital-purchasing options in the future — for reasons beyond just safety. Consumers are shifting more to digital, and further from physical. Moreover, our surveys found a majority of consumers see the pandemic stretching into at least late winter 2021, and that they’ll maintain many of their digitized shopping habits they’ve picked up in the meantime.
Given the exploding and persistent advances in consumer hunger for digital commerce change, it is unsurprising the biggest names in tech are upgrading and reinventing their eCommerce offerings.
Among the more interesting rollouts is Google’s launch of Shoploop earlier this month. A synthesis of social media and eCommerce, the video-shopping platform hosts 90-second tutorials on various products.
When consumers see something they want, the app allows them to “save” the item for later or move immediately to a merchant’s website to buy. The platform also encourages users to follow their favorite Shoploop creators and share videos with friends and family.
If all of that sounds familiar to you, it probably should since it’s a bit reminiscent of Amazon Live, the video-streamed shopping experience Amazon launched in early 2019. And Amazon and Google aren’t the only big-name tech players entering video-streamed shopping. As 2019 passed in 2020, Facebook acquired video-shopping platform Packgd, reportedly to add livestream-shopping capability to its Marketplace and Facebook Live features.
“We’re exploring ways to let buyers easily ask questions and place orders within a live-video broadcast,” a Facebook spokesperson said at the time.
Facebook’s Marketplace has roughly 1 billion actively monthly users and has been trying to expand its eCommerce footprint for years (as evidenced by the recent launch of Instagram Shop).
In fact, many attempts to merge livestreaming with shopping have picked up steam in recent years as players big and small aim to build a digitized version of QVC or the Home Shopping Network for millennials.
However, that task has proven more difficult than it would seem. For example, Style Code Live — Amazon’s first attempt at a streamed shopping experience to sell beauty products — never found an audience and was rather short-lived.
By contrast a broader base and more intensive promotion have helped Amazon Live deliver better in terms of generating purchases. “Live streaming has helped increase daily visits to our product detail page by 5x and significantly grew our sales,” one Amazon Live merchant noted.
Still, massive players like Amazon and Google aren’t the only players attempting to pair livestreaming and shopping. For instance, startup Popshop Live — a streaming-based mobile commerce platform — helps merchants build streamed promotions correctly to yield results. Once a firm connects to the platform, Popshop Live schedules a show about the brand or its products, promotes the broadcast and provides a dashboard that tracks viewers, sales conversions and other KPIs.
“Having just the product is not enough,” Founder and CEO Danielle Li told PYMNTS. “The other piece of the puzzle is creating the playbook for sellers to identify the right content, right personality and right merchandise. I’m proud to say that Popshop can provide a playbook to set sellers up for success from their first show — and can also help them create sustainable success in a period of three months, six months and a year.”
Down to Shop Co-Founder and COO Cyrus Summerlin offered up a similar sentiment about moving eCommerce into the world of livestreaming in a recent conversation with Karen Webster. He noted that it’s not enough to have a platform itself, but that merchants must build content that actually catches consumers’ attention and piques their curiosity.
“It’s pretty easy — we just have to make a couple of Super Bowl commercials every day,” Summerlin joked. “We know our audience pretty well, and so we are good at asking ourselves: ‘Will this product speak to them and what is the best kind of show to place it on to tell the best type of story?’”
The question now for Shoploop, Popshop and other streaming-based eCommerce initiatives is whether they can meet the “Super Bowl commercial a day” standard enough to attract consumers who come ready to buy. That’s a challenge, particularly in the 90-second time window that Shoploop creators have available for quick product tutorials.
Such short videos might serve as concise and efficient content — or they might be insufficient runway to establish a consumer connection and get customers buying. But then again, young consumers trained on super-short TikTok videos might appreciate the brevity of such pitches. Time — and the eventual revenue figures — will tell.