Success for today’s e-commerce retailers is measured in more than just sales made. As we move into a post-pandemic marketplace, online retailers and those that moved from in-person to online are finding that they need to compete—again—with in-person shopping experiences. And while e-commerce has the edge on convenience, in-person shopping offers human connections and the ability to see products in more than just still images. To drive real success, e-commerce companies need to recreate that in-person human connection with an online one through live selling.
In-person shopping experiences will never go away, but online sellers aren’t deterred. The future of e-commerce is moving toward interactive live selling, which simulates the in-person shopping experience through consumers’ devices in real time. With a microphone, a camera or two, and some editing tools, small companies can market their products to global audiences with the push of a stream button.
Live selling is not just a post-pandemic trend—it is quickly establishing itself as a sophisticated marketing strategy. And even with available in-person options, many people are choosing to remain remote—and this is especially true for online shoppers. According to a YouGov survey in association with AdAge, 21 percent of Americans said they expect to increase their e-tailer purchases, and 78 percent of Americans say they intend to shop online about the same or more frequently than before the pandemic.
Live selling bridges the gap between buyer and seller—building personal connections as the owner of a local shop could connect with a walk-in customer—while maintaining the safety and convenience of remote experiences. It provides a safe space for customers to engage with brands while making purchases from the comfort of their living rooms.
In a survey conducted by Switcher Studio, we found that live selling is becoming the main sales and marketing strategy for small to mid-sized e-commerce brands. In fact, 80 percent of sellers in this category say that livestreaming is either all or part of their video marketing strategies, and 86 percent of companies who livestream do so every week.
Live selling has been found to increase social media engagement, ROI, lead generation, and—most importantly—sales. China’s livestream selling market went from $3 billion to $171 billion in three years (2017-2020), according to McKinsey. The study predicts that sales from live selling experiences could account for 10 percent to 20 percent of all e-commerce purchases by 2026.
It’s clear that live selling is here to stay, especially in the context of small and mid-sized businesses, and for a good reason. Live selling can accelerate the customer’s journey through the sales funnel. Having the ability to interact with sellers, ask questions in real time, and see products as they exist in space all hasten the decision-making process.
State-of-the-art platforms are continuing to add integrations that improve live selling conversion rates. Cartr, for example, is our new Shopify solution for small and mid-sized businesses. The goal is to integrate our clients’ Shopify stores and Switcher Studio accounts to make Facebook Live virtual shopping even easier. With the tap of a button, businesses can feature Shopify products directly in their livestreams on their viewers’ screens. Interested viewers can simply comment on the video, and they will be sent a direct message from the checkout chatbot, Cartr, walking them through the purchasing journey and allowing them to check out directly from their devices.
My goal is to empower up-and-coming companies to take their businesses’ growth into their own hands through creativity and connection building. Live selling strategies can help small businesses compete with national and international brands—enabling them to build connections with customers, create rich branded marketing content, and facilitate sales in a simple, streamlined, and accessible fashion.
Live selling is here to stay, and at its best it’s easy, fun, and effective.
The author, Nick Mattingly, is CEO, and Co-Founder, Switcher Studio.