The Live Commerce Opportunity Ahead Of Us

  • by , Op-Ed Contributor, January 26, 2022

Historically, we’ve transformed new platforms’ promising new paradigms into models with which we’re already familiar. Banner ads ended up looking like newspaper ads, video platforms basically ran TV ads, photo platforms started looking like magazines and influencers are managed more and more like spokespeople. 

Perhaps this reflects existing siloes and ways of working. It’s probably also because we as an industry never took the time to think about each innovation as an opportunity to grow with new behaviors –  oftentimes intrinsic to the platform – rather than our habits as marketers. 

Live commerce, which is a progression from livestreaming and also called live shopping, is one of those opportunities. 

We are lucky enough to have witnessed the launch of live commerce in China and its impressive growth into a $131 billion business in 2021, according to eMarketer. We have a lot to learn from that experience. We are also lucky enough to have several platforms from YouTube and Pinterest to social networks and gaming platforms all offering live commerce to creators, with a clear understanding of each of their strengths. With the hindsight of QVC and infomercials, we realize which pitches and mindsets were the right fit for those approaches. With the right layer of technology and data, we can also gain a deeper understanding of how people are engaging with products. Through our proprietary Commerce Intelligence platform, we can see how people discover products online, what they think of them and which broader factors are affecting product categories on every major e-retailer. 



It’s this lucky position that we, as an industry, should not squander. 

New research from our partners at TikTok points to live commerce as a massive opportunity, so we are leaning in and aggressively pursuing new opportunities in this arena. What we’ve learned is that people’s main motivation to tune into a ‘live’, is to learn something new, with 59% of live media users claiming it’s their top reason for tuning in. This is closely followed by wanting to be entertained (51%) and by sheer fandom of a specific creator (29%). The pull of curiosity is there, it’s fertile ground for discovery, with 43% of TikTok users who watch branded LIVE discovering products. As we build for this new opportunity, making sure live commerce is fresh in every sense is vital.

To truly engage users, live commerce content needs to not only pull people in but also be true to the platform. 29% of online buyers globally say they would be encouraged to make a purchase if the shopping experience was ‘entertaining’ according to GWI. However, entertainment needs to be balanced with interactive demonstration and Q&A to not only build credibility but reduce the number of surprises - and therefore returns and low ratings on the consumer side post-purchase. Our early research shows that live commerce may be one of the best antidotes to returns, multiplying its broader business impact to a sales and marketing organization still trying to find profitability and suitable margins from ecommerce. Valuable live commerce dictates genuine engagement that answers and delights. 

Further down in the purchase journey, research shows that live commerce leads 53%* of TikTok users who watch to go on to visit the brand’s website to find out more, while 41% use the format to stay informed of promotions and sales. Live commerce has a role to play across the purchase funnel and can have positive effects on profitability. It also has an entire set of ecommerce solutions needed to provide a holistic online experience for consumers who have more options than ever to gather information and make purchase decisions. 

Live commerce at its core is live and interactive entertainment, brought to life by a creator pushing creative boundaries with a product playing an active role in it. The content should be true to the creator and generate genuine excitement all while giving as honest and deep a product experience as possible. Our job as marketers is to support that entertainment by bringing it to light and to give its main actors (talent and products), the frameworks to play within and push this opportunity further. It’s key to keep in mind that the format requires authenticity from the creator, transparency around the product and support from the brand and its resources. 

If we can set new principles for live commerce – elevating it to a business strategy not just a channel, harnessing the energy that is already there, it can have a real chance to flourish into a freestanding operation of its own. With a clear understanding of the tactics that drive discovery, content increases consideration and a new broader marketing network – of creators acting as affiliates – where we can build a flywheel for products with intelligent optimization down to the geography and day part. That’s a whole new paradigm worth getting excited about.

*Source: TikTok Marketing Science Global LIVE Landscape Study 2021 conducted by Ipsos







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