What happens when you mix infomercials, shopping TV channels, and social media? You get Shopstreaming—the retail industry's next big trend. In this blog we define shopstreaming, discuss why it works, and demonstrate how retailers can incorporate it into the marketing strategy as a part of an omnichannel retail experience.
What is shopstreaming?
Social commerce or Shopstreaming allows you to take your store into consumers’ homes. Picture your customers digitally "walking" around your retail store, listening in as your employees talk about your products, and even interacting with other customers in the store as if they were actually there—but, using their digital device, they’re actually seeing it online. What impact would it have on your customer’s virtual shopping experience?
The shopstreaming trend originated in Asia around 2017 as a way for small businesses to showcase their products to a broader audience. And the COVID-19 pandemic quickly accelerated interest in this type of virtual shopping experience, but it's still an untapped opportunity for most retailers in the U.S. But retailers who jump on the bandwagon now will have the early advantage and be seen as pioneers in this burgeoning movement.
Why shopstreaming works
During the pandemic, consumers took much of their shopping online—but they missed the in-store experience. But even as a new normal starts to take shape, consumers now value convenience like never before, so the more real their virtual online shopping gets, the more they’re delighted. Streams featuring fashion, jewelry, beauty and skincare brands and more are in demand. And when influencers are hired to model new make-up trends, talk about the effect a new moisturizer had on their skin, or showcase their #OOTD (outfit of the day) consumers delight can skyrocket. On top of that, shopstreaming is an effective marketing strategy because it cultivates trust with consumers as stream hosts are seen as authorities.
Retailers looking to take advantage of this increased online shopping trend should strongly consider shopstreaming. By allowing consumers to gather more information about your products and discover new items they may not have previously considered, you’re adding a retail revenue booster.
The rise of entertainmerce
The idea of shopping as entertainment is far from new. HSN, QVC, and others have been doing it for decades. YouTube allowed content creators to take it to the next level, with anyone now able to build an audience and become an influencer through content like shopping hauls, make-up tutorials and unboxing videos featuring merchandise they've been gifted from partner brands or purchased themselves online or in-store.
Shopstreaming levels up the online entertainmerce experience by making it more social. In many cases, consumers can chat with the host and other attendees to ask questions about the products and build rapport with each other. This interactivity helps increase engagement, close the gap between the consumer and the product, build trust and drive revenue.
It's particularly effective among millennials and Gen Zers, the generations most easily influenced by social media. The bandwagon or FOMO appeal is real, with demand for products directly affected by influencers and online reviews.
Related: Generation Z spending habits are different than any other generation. What does that mean for business?
Adding influencer marketing to your shopstreaming strategy is a great way to increase your brand's visibility. An influencer with niche authority who uses social media to review, demonstrate, or use your products can offer an added element of trust and intrigue for your customers.
Shopstreaming offers a competitive advantage
The internet is littered with noise and consumers can easily get lost down rabbit holes of information at every turn. To stand out, brands can leverage shopstreaming in their omnichannel strategy to seamlessly walk consumers from entertainment to in-app purchases before they turn their attention to something else.
Enhanced product information for shoppers
Consumer behavior has changed drastically. Historically shoppers went into stores with little or no product knowledge and relied on salespeople to advise them on what to buy. The internet quickly changed the way consumers do nearly everything.
Today's shoppers conduct their own product research, relying on search engines, customer reviews and social media fodder to learn more about the purchases they're making. This power shift represents a major opportunity for retailers to empower consumers with the live entertainmerce they crave.
In the past, when shopping online, some customers missed the ability to physically hold and inspect products on a store shelf. But thanks to technology, retailers can offer 360-degree views and interactive product videos that bring products to life. Now you can offer your customers the ability to virtually try on items like clothing, eyeglasses, or even see how a piece of furniture will look in their home. Shopstreaming helps to provide a more tangible and emotional connection between consumers and your products.
Deliver personalized product suggestions at scale
Traditionally retailers would welcome customers in person and individually learn about their preferences and needs—but it's hard to scale this way. Instead, shopstreaming helps you get to know your customer's needs and they can easily see which products are available in different locations and at particular times. Having that context is a game-changer. Coupled with the intent provided by shopstream product imagery, retailers can deliver relevant suggestions, essentially recreating in-person interactions at scale. By delivering the right message at the right moment, customer intent can turn into action.
Related: Take your social media presence to the next level with social commerce
Drive traffic and increase impressions
The boundaries between online and offline business continue to blur as innovative retailers are beginning to experiment with adding shopstreaming to their brick-and-mortar store experiences. Shoppers who view streams online are granted instant access to store directions, contact information and exclusive offers for their local retail shops. The engagement drives massive traffic and sales, both online and in-person.
Shopstreaming combined with social networks allows shoppers to share their opinions on products with millions of people. By incorporating reviews and introducing product shortlists during shopstreams, you make it easy for buyers to discuss items and purchases with friends and family, ultimately creating more interest in your brand.