Video is increasingly becoming a vital tool in online retailing, not only enhancing customer experience, but also acting as a customer service and advice channel. Many brands and retailers are already using it – and there will be many more that are looking to get on board with it. But how?
Continuing our series of ‘How to…’ guides to help G2K retailers grow post lockdown, we want to help get to grips with video commerce and what it means. This time we take a slightly different tack and ask an expert. So here, Sophie Abrahamsson, CCO at Bambuser –an interactive live video streaming provider – talks us through why video commerce is growing and how to make it work for you.
Internet Retailing: Why is video shopping growing in Europe – key drivers?
Sophie Abrahamsson: Online shopping in general has seen a huge surge over the past year, with people jumping online to purchase everything they need and want. However, shopping online is both an opportunity and a challenge for retailers – creating and maintaining brand loyalty in a landscape where consumers have countless brands to choose from. Just offering a smooth online shopping destination is not enough – consumers are increasingly demanding more personalised and engaging experiences, and this is where technology becomes crucial in creating meaningful human interactions and shopping experiences online.
Live video shopping is a given and inspiring solution to this problem – the technology breaks physical barriers, adding immediate conversion and a true dialogue with the consumers in an already highly engaging context. Furthemore, businesses are more confident in investing in this technology as it has seen huge success in China, where the market is estimated to be worth $170bn.
Most definitely there has been an increased demand for live video shopping due to the coronavirus, but we are merely looking at a fast tracked adoption curve, this trend has been on the rise for a few years, since it boomed in China in 2018.
IR: Where in Europe is it growing most and why?
SA: Bambuser has seen explosive growth this year and the accelerated adoption of live shopping technology in the global markets rather than just in Europe, we are most definitely watching this global trend getting traction as retailers are realising the importance of an online presence. What seemed to be a technology for early adopters last year, has proven itself to go mainstream already.
The UK is one of our main markets as a hub of technology innovation as well as the home to a number of global retailers and pure online players. The UK has one of the largest and most advanced e-commerce markets within Europe – e-commerce resulted in £200 billion in sales in 2019 and now makes up one quarter of all UK retail sales. We have seen significant interest from brands to diversify their online content, and expand their personalised customer offerings with live video shopping as customer expectations continue to increase. Following our significant growth this year, Bambuser has made a number of exciting investments to expand the geographical presence, including establishing a company within the UK and opening up an office in London so we can continue to tap into and grow in this market.
IR: What sorts of retailers are using it and why?
SA: All industries and any retailer with the ability to sell online has the ability to utilise live video shopping. For example, at Bambuser we work with a wide range of brands within different industries, including Samsung, Farfetch and Clinique. We primarily target larger retailers that have a clear B2C marketing strategy and want to own and control both the brand narrative and the customer data. Unlike social media players operating in this space, our technology enables larger retailers to curate shows in a way that resonates with their brand, making the content a consistent continuation of their existing brand messaging and a native part of their online shopping experiences. Not to mention – they maintain complete control over customer and transaction data.
Certain industries such as beauty and skincare, have led the way with early adoption. This mainly because their customers are already used to video tutorials on platforms such as YouTube and Instagram, so the step into live video shopping is easy. For the fashion industry in particular, the visual aspects have been key, as shoppers are able to see what pieces of clothing looks like and fits on different and diversified bodies, how to style with different accessories, such as adding a belt or dressing it up with heels as well as the possibility to ask questions around garments, textures and care.
During the first half of 2020, an average viewer of a Bambuser-supported Live Video Shopping show watched for 11.18 minutes, and 12 percent added at least one item to their shopping cart. The average add-to-cart rate skyrockets to 36% for the beauty brands.
IR: Any retailers or brands that you can name that are using it and any details as to how?
SA: This technology can be incorporated into live events so that the potential audience can far exceed those sat in the physical audience. For example, we worked with luxury lingerie brand Etam Group in September to make its annual fashion week show shoppable. The digital audience were taken “backstage,” to get an exclusive insiders’ view of the models and celebrities as they prepared for the show and were able to purchase looks from the catwalk via our technology. Not only did this increase the opportunity for sales, but enabled Etam to build a bridge between its bricks-and-mortar location and online universe creating an engaging omnichannel experience.
Alternatively, brands can host a purely digital event like global beauty brand Clinique that utilised Bambuser’s technology to host a US and UK livestream on its site starring celebrity actress, Emilia Clarke. Users were able to purchase items directly on the site as Emilia chatted through the benefits of each product – this was also promoted via social to encourage customers to join the event.
IR: How hard is it to implement?
SA: Live video shopping is very easy to implement as long as you are working with experts who can guide you to get the most out of the experience. Experience and expertise are key for success when you start out with new sales channels. Therefore, picking the right partner is critical for retailers, as it is unlikely that they will have inhouse live video shopping experts for some time.
IR: Is it mostly mobile?
SA: On mobile is how the large majority of consumers are experiencing live video shopping events, which tells us that with this technology you can convert your audience into shoppers at any given time, as long as they open their smartphones.
IR: Can video commerce save Christmas – or is it too late to act now?
SA: I think we can all agree that not many consumers are going to physically be to waiting in line in crowded retail spaces for inspiration and advice this holiday season, so from that perspective I would say that this might be the most important occasion ever for retailers to blend the in-store experience with the online offering, letting live video shopping meet the new consumer needs.
It isn’t too late to act now, this is a technology that is quick and easy to implement and retailers can easily turn many of their marketing calendar activities into live shows.
IR: What are the future trends in video shopping?
SA: I am convinced that a few years from now the majority of online shopping transactions will take place in live streams. The consumers already interact with each other in all kind of live stream contexts and the most natural evolution of our online behaviour is that we interact and shop from retailers the way we already interact with each other.
We are witnessing great initial traction of the live video shopping adaptation, fueled by the challenges society is currently facing, and now it is possible for many retailers to monetise on the first mover advantage by becoming renowned live destinations in their segments. Whether it is educational shows with internal staff or experts, inspiring influencer driven events or in-store experiences reaching the online audience, retailers in all segments and with all target audiences will be able to find their formula. The possibilities are endless.
We can expect an adoption across a wide range of sectors and industries. For example, within the music industry artists are already utilising live streaming since concerts as tours have been cancelled for the foreseeable future. With this technology artists can utilise the online events and sell merchandise as well. Sport fans are waiting for new ways of engaging with each other and supporting their teams when stadiums are closed, and all of a sudden there can be a dedicated and interactive channel. Well, let your fantasy loose and you will realise that there are opportunities for all retailers, and a great many ways of reinventing the relationship with their customers.