Livestreaming/Live Shopping are an emerging theme in the social commerce market.””Live” has the potential to reinvigorate the ‘brand experience’ on multiple different fronts.
But what governs such “experiences” – ultimately, is it more about the technology platform, or more about building trust with consumers?
Below is a deeper into the blend between ‘Trust and Technology’ in the emerging social commerce market.
Live Commerce, Influencers & Conversion
Lessons from China for the West
The following post cites a lot of academic data out of China, particularly a paper from 2023 about how Influencers can foster trust in ‘live streaming eCommerce.’ The goal is to better examine how trust influences the commercial side of ‘social commerce.’
While the Chinese market is not the Western market, there are certain lessons in trust that are likely to be a lot more relevant than what technologies are used.
Building trust through positive customer experiences contributes to consumers’ willingness to engage with streamers, accept the authenticity of their offerings, and perceive the value associated with live streaming e-commerceMPDI
How do Livestreamers Build Trust?
In the world of ‘Influencer Marketing,’ it is often difficult to determine how important the ‘Influencer’ themselves is in the context of their performance. Furthermore, what factors determine how influential they are towards a consumer’s purchasing decision?
The main component as it pertains to live streaming is the emotional bond. Defining an ’emotional relationship’ in a streaming context is challenging. As a proxy, we can think about how we feel in everyday life when we converse with an employee at a retail store.
If the employee is pleasant, informative, and generally leaves us with positive feelings about the brand or product(s), then an emotional bond can form in some way.
Similar to brand consumption, when viewers willingly engage with live streaming content, the exceptional customer experience delivered by the streamer can foster an emotional relationship between the consumer and the streamer.
“Live” is not the same as Ads
Unlike a commercial on TV, or a UGC (User-Generated Content) Ad on a platform like TikTok, live streaming is “live.” This means there is typically spontaneous interactions, dialogues with the audience, and/or moments of intrigue.
These are dimensions that cannot be found in a typical Ad and that’s what makes it so compelling to consumers. The potential for a connection or bond to form in a live event is thus much greater than an Ad, even something that is UGC.
The attachment formed between consumers and live streamers acts as a bridge, connecting positive customer experiences with a strong inclination toward making purchase decisions.MPDI
This ‘attachment’ described in the literature is a more formal, academic way of describing the Customer Relationship, a critical component to the business model of any brand.
With these types of bonds forming during a live streaming event, such as live shopping, trust is built, and this has a heavy influence on the buyer’s intentions at that point.
When consumers have positive experiences with a live streamer, it enhances their trust in the streamer’s authenticity, credibility, and reliability … Consequently, this attachment positively influences their purchase intention, as consumers are more likely to be influenced and motivated by live streamers they trust and feel attached to.MPDI
In looking at this relationship in an earlier post Social Proof, Reviews & Video Commerce, the goal was to try and hypothesize how much power both reviews and a Livestreamer’s influence have on the purchasing decision, both together and separately.
Reviews can feature in a Live Shopping event, or they can be separated. They can, of course, add trust to the livestream, but what if we are talking about new product launches for example?
All of the above goes to show how important the trust between the Influencer and the audience is on stream.
Brand Experiences in a Live Shopping Event
In looking at a range of examples of Live Shopping + Video Commerce, it is clear that some brands pour large budgets into the overall ‘brand experience’ surrounding an event, while others go bare bones and rely on the Influencer(s) and their talents.
Some brands partner with external Influencers who are essentially speaking with the audience from their homes, while others are presented as Experts from within the company.
“Influencer” covers both bases in the context of this post, as each can have advantages and disadvantages depending on the product, category, marketing goals, and audience.
The question is, how much of a live event is about the ‘customer experience’ laid out by the brand and how much is about the Influencer’s ability to build a bond with the audience?
Interestingly, even though a better customer experience tends to foster stronger trust in the live streamer, attachment has a greater impact on stimulating consumer purchase intention. Compared to the perception of platform reliability, the emotional connection established between the live streamer and consumers proves more influential in increasing purchase intention.MPDI
It seems like the ability of Influencers and Creators to resonate with their respective audiences is more valuable than elaborate sets, or money invested into the props of a live event.
Particularly, the emotional attraction of the live streamer should be highly valued.MPDI
There are many *asterisks to the above that are dependent on who the brand is, audience demographics, etc.
Yet the implications of this are actually quite large for social commerce in a broader context as it starts to scale-up in the West. Undoubtedly there will be no shortage of platforms to run live events on. Nor will there be a shortage of Influencer Agencies for UGC content.
But ‘Live’ in itself is another art all together. Determining who is great live for 30 mins vs. who can shoot a strong 30s TikTok Ad may determine who wins the ‘prize’ when it comes to live shopping.
Conversion Rates for Live Commerce
There are multiple reports and anecdotes of Live Shopping generating 30% Conversion Rates, or more than 10X the traditional eCommerce rates. The average Conversion Rate during a Live Shopping event is said to be 9%.
Driving traffic to a successful shopping event is very lucrative to brands for those who can execute on it, but it has proven to be easier said than done in the West, at least to date.
The market is changing, and certain catalysts – such as the launch of TikTok Shop in the US market – are feeding the flames of experimentation. Some brands will inevitably start to crack the code and rise up the proverbial ranks within their categories.
But a lot of the products that are moving on TikTok Shop are low margin, and targeted towards Gen Z. The real movement will come when the commerce spreads to higher margin products in more lucrative demographics. That means multiple other platforms, strategies, and playbooks will be hitting the scenes in the months and years ahead.
It seems safe to say that the training, professionalism, and overall resources dedicated to livestreaming Influencers and Creators will play a significant role in the market going forward.
Influencers act as shopping guides for consumers using live streaming e-commerce to shop, explaining related information of products to users, thereby forming a mutual trust.Frontiers in Pscyhology
If we think back to the case study on Home Shopping Network (HSN), this means the practical pros and cons of a product need to be demonstrated in a livestream, it is not simply an Ad.
Live streaming e-commerce explains the information, as well as advantages and disadvantages of the product in detail to solve problems that cannot be directly experienced and shows it in the form of a live video even in the latter period of useFrontiers in Pscyhology
This is paramount to building trust. The real-time nature of a livestream also means that not everything can be scripted.
Live streaming e-commerce is conducted in real-time and user queries can be answered instantly, providing two-way communication. Users’ participation and communication can promote consumers’ purchase behavior and make them experience the pleasure of shopping.Frontiers in Pscyhology
When it all gels together into one smooth experience, there is no doubt that conversion rates will far outperform what traditional models will do. Equally, to get up to speed and ready to ‘go live’ takes some research, preparation, and investment into the product, which is in this case is more than just technology.
More Live Commerce Posts
The Role of Influencers in Live Streaming E-Commerce: Influencer Trust, Attachment, and Consumer Purchase Intention (Link)
What Drives Consumer Purchasing Intention in Live Streaming E-Commerce? (Link)