Livestream Shopping, also known as Live Shopping, is a relatively new way of engaging and closing sales, having really sprung up starting in China in 2017. It has proven to be an exciting way for Ecommerce brands to sell more products online and engage with prospects and customers in real-time.
Live Shopping Stats
Stats section courtesy of ChatGPT
The Live Commerce market is projected to grow from $1 billion in 2020 to $25 billion in 2023 (Coresight Research).
According to a survey by Bambuser, 84% of consumers said they have made a purchase after watching a live stream, and a Livestorm report claims live shopping events have an average conversion rate of 32% (compared to just 3% for traditional Ecommerce).
Livestreaming on social media platforms is becoming increasingly popular, with Facebook reporting a 50% increase in the number of live streams in 2020, and Instagram reporting a 70% increase in live views.
A survey by Wyzowl found that 68% of consumers said they would prefer to learn about a product through a video than any other type of content.
According to a report by Vimeo, viewers are 1.8 times more likely to make a purchase after watching a video about a product.
The opportunity for growth - in the form of increased exposure, conversion rate, and loyalty - for brands with Live Shopping is seriously enormous. US Live Shopping sales are expected to reach $17 billion by the end of 2022 and will double by 2024.
So let’s dive into the most popular livestream shopping tools and see how to increase your slice of the Live Shopping revolution, with some additional tips to get you started.
Quick side note: Live Shopping and Social Selling are similar but different. Live Shopping can happen on a website, but frequently takes place on social media. Social selling doesn’t have to be live, but always happens on channel and typically describes the checkout taking place on channel, but could also only describe the desire to buy on-channel.
Why Should Merchants Start Doing Live Shopping?
As Ecommerce brands face rising ad prices and stiffer competition for consumer eyeballs, now could be the perfect time to embrace Live Shopping as a way to engage existing customers to increase repeat purchases, as well as build an owned audience that really will begin to resonate with your brand as you consistently pump out those Live Shopping videos.
In 2019, Amazon launched Amazon Live Shopping, which merchants can use to promote and sell products directly on Amazon. Wayne Purboo, the executive responsible for Amazon Live, said he believes “livestream shopping is the future of retail.”
“While Chinese shoppers have embraced Live Ecommerce, the US market is in its infancy, according to analysts. Coresight Research estimates that the value of goods sold to US consumers via Live Shopping streams could reach almost $70B by 2026 — representing about 5 per cent of all online shopping — up from $20B this year,” as reported in a recent Financial Times article.
Influencers and celebrities, often referred to as Key Opinion Consumers (KOC) or Key Opinion Leaders (KOL) have played a significant role in helping brands gain traction through Live Shopping. For example, Amazon lures and leverages influencers to pitch products live — similar to a QVC format. If you’re already shopping on Amazon, they figure you’ll most likely want to watch and engage with a livestream.
But is this the best strategy for you? I’ll get to that a little later in this article.
Let’s take a look at the various tools and options to consider.
What is a Live Shopping Tool?
Going “Live” can be done natively on many social media channels, but sometimes you want to go live on all channels at the same time, or add products to the live in a way in which it is easy to checkout, pass between cameras, add an overlay, etc., etc.
Most Live Shopping tools are going to enable functionality that improves the Live experience, improves your selling process (and conversion rate and cart size), and/or improves the fulfillment and inventory management side of selling online.
Some tools may be as simple as a “streaming add-on” that does an overlay, displays some stats, helps you switch cameras, etc., or could be as complex as a full-fledged Ecommerce platform, replacing your traditional DTC experience from start to finish by engaging and converting from directly within the platform.
What you need depends on your goals, your existing sales and marketing processes, your audience, your budget, and ultimately what you think will generate you the biggest opportunity - typically from a revenue / profit standpoint, but could also be from a growth of social account, branding, or new customer standpoint.
When should I invest in a Live Shopping Tool?
First, let’s look at some impressive Live Shopping stats and trends to help you understand this strategy and opportunity:
- Live Selling represents $500B China by 2022 ~ Goldman Sacks podcast
- Livestream shopping to exceed $11B in U.S. in 2022, ~ Forbes
- By 2026, live streaming could account for 10 to 20% of all online sales worldwide, trend agencies predict.
These stats remind me of the Web 2.0 days, when brands were just expanding online. The potential for online commerce was staggering and the results proved right. Do you remember your first online purchase? I do! I was sitting in my car, parked right outside of Nordstrom in San Rafael, California. I had this burning desire to buy a pair of black snake-skin boots. On a whim, I did a search on my mobile phone to see what other boots might be available. To my surprise, I found exactly what I wanted on Zappos. I hesitated for a second, wondering if it was safe to buy online. A few seconds later, I bought my first pair of shoes from Zappos. They arrived by FedEx ahead of schedule. Talk about surprising and delighting your customer!
Nowadays, this probably doesn’t seem like a big deal… It’s become ubiquitous. But it was just a few years ago that consumers were “being trained” to purchase online. And now we are seeing consumers “being trained” to buy through Live Shopping experiences just the same.
Recently, Zappos teamed up with livestream shopping tool “Buywith” to promote products through influencer hosts to their followers using the platform. Another frequently referenced success story is Austin Li - also known as “Lipstick King” who sold $1.7B worth of goods in a 12-hour livestream for Alibaba’s Singles Day. Considering these facts and trends and following the Zappos success path, now is a great time to get started.
Does Livestream Shopping Help Conversion Rates?
You might be wondering if this is right for your brand and can this help with conversions? According to a McKinsey study, conversion rates are approaching 30% up to ten times higher than conventional Ecommerce. And, the most showcased product categories are: apparel and fashion (36%), beauty products and food (7%), consumer electronics (5%), home decor (4%).
New features are being added to these Live Shopping tools at a quick pace. For example, the ability to create a live poll and get instant feedback from your customers helps dictate where your show goes, what products you highlight, or what guests you bring in for the next episode.
What are the Main Types of Tools in This Space?
There are essentially 3 types of technologies that you need to know about in the Live Shopping category:
- Social Platforms such as Amazon Live, Instagram Live, YouTube Live. These are native opportunities, where the audience is built into the platform, and you can go Live and convince consumers to buy from you. There isn’t any tech to purchase in this category, its all provided to you from the platform itself. But that may leave you needing more: from integrations to overlays to camera setups, etc.
- Production Tools - These are the ones specific to helping the live go smoothly. While technically their job is to improve the production experience, that experience should have a direct impact on exposure, conversion rate, etc. These tools frequently allow you to stream your Live across multiple platforms simultaneously and may also aggregate the comments back from the channels so that you can see them in a centralized location, typically to encourage real-time engagement with your audience.
- Ecommerce Tools - these are tools that focus more on the execution side of purchasing and delivering the goods to the customer and incorporate things like bundling, discounts, the cart and purchase, piping your order to the correct ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning tool), 3PL (3rd-Party Logistics Provider), or Ecommerce Platform (ex. Shopify).
The more robust platforms will combine all of these features into one solution, which often comes at a top of market price. Some solutions you see will only solve for one niche problem and may be a great add-on to your Live Shopping stack.
And there are other tool categories that may help with Live Shopping but are not directly enabling… Things like customer service tools, data collection, quiz, or marketing automation tools, or social media tools.
Getting Started with Live Shopping
When starting out with Live Shopping, you don’t need more than the platform itself, and going live free and fast can be a great way to gauge some initial consumer engagement levels and make a determination on how much you should be willing to invest.
Or, if you’re a more established brand with great engagement on social already, you may want to start with the full-fledged platform.
It’s tough to say from the outside here, the one warning I will give is that Live Shopping is often a slow growth channel that requires consistency and boundless amounts of energy. So whatever stage you are at, be deliberate and thoughtful when you pull the trigger, and make sure you can invest in the channel for at least 3-6 months with minimal ROI, and without breaking the bank, before you reevaluate.
As with any good marketing strategy, you’ll want to know what social media platforms your audience is most active on. You’ll want to decide if you want to have Live Shopping directly available on your website, which, when done right, should increase on-site conversion rate, but may also come with a higher technology barrier or tech tool price point.
Also, I recommend setting a date for your first live and getting your existing customers and audience to RSVP to attend. You may even want to encourage them to attend via social channels rather than on-site (even though long term you’d likely prefer your audience to be on your website than on social). This will increase your initial reach, which is often good for amplification via the social platform algorithms, and can help you get the ball rolling on growing your overall audience.
The Best Live Shopping Tools for Ecommerce
The Shortlist of Live Shopping tools for Ecommerce (in no particular order):
Warning: Since most of these tools do practically the same thing, their descriptions are going to sound basically about the same. Look for the differences across them to help rule out options that aren’t right for you, then dive deeper into the ones that could fit.
Live and Personal Shopping with Interactive Videos
Bambuser connects you with your prospects and customers through shoppable live streams or pre-recorded videos across your website and digital channels resulting in increased customer engagement and sales. They're also very good at bridging the gap between physical retail and the online customer experience.
Bambuser provides the streaming technology, the hosting app, the back-office, the data and the web applications necessary to go live. All that’s left for you to do is to focus on your video content and the customer experience. Currently, Bambuser offers two Live Video Shopping solutions - One-to-Many, a live video shopping publicly broadcasted to everyone online, and One-to-One, a video shopping experience focused on personal shopping and customer care (often more suitable for retail, but can work for DTC as well).
- Multiple Users
- Live Video Editing Tools
- External Camera Compatibility
- Live Show Monitoring
- Subtitles and Captions
- Data and Insights Dashboard
- ADA compliance
- Global Coverage
They don’t share their prices publicly, meaning they are likely more focused on larger enterprise contracts. Contact them for more info.
Revolutionizing Retail with Seamless Social Commerce Solutions
CommentSold was one of the first tools to enter the Live Shopping space and started quite simply as a tool where if you commented “sold” on a post or Live video on social, you’d get messaged with a follow up sequence to purchase.
CommentSold is soooo much more than that now; they’ve created an entire cloud-based Ecommerce platform that specializes in social commerce and Live Shopping. The platform enables brands to sell their products through social media channels, particularly on Facebook and Instagram, by utilizing live video streaming and comment selling.
They provide tools for brands to easily manage their online inventory, automate their sales process, and track customer interactions and transactions in real-time.
CommentSold's key feature is its ability to leverage social media networks as a powerful marketing and sales channel by allowing brands to create interactive and engaging Live Shopping experiences with ease and in real-time for their customers.
The platform also offers various integrations with popular shipping and payment providers, as well as a variety of other Ecommerce tools, to streamline the entire sales process from start to finish.
CommentSold is one of the market leaders in Live Shopping and has become popular among many brands in fashion, beauty, home goods, and many other industries, seeking to expand their reach and revenue through social commerce and Live Shopping.
- Live Selling
- Facebook Selling
- Instagram Selling
- TikTok Selling
- Branded Mobile App
- Easy-to-Build Webstore
- Point of Sale
- Marketing Automation
- Customer Loyalty & Rewards
- Inventory Management
- Shipping & Fulfillment
- Reporting & Analytics
CommentSold offers small and starting plans, all the way up to Enterprise, typically with a 30 day free trial. But their prices are not shared publicly. That said, they are clearly an Enterprise-grade solution and will be a best fit for serious brands ready to invest in weekly, or even daily, Live Shopping across all the key channels.
Transforming Live Video Streaming Experiences with Interactive Engagement Solutions
Livescale.tv is a powerful and upmarket Live Commerce platform. Their platform enables brands to create engaging and interactive shopping experiences, featuring live demos, Q&A sessions, and product showcases that provide customers with a more personalized and immersive shopping experience. Livescale.tv offers a range of features to help brands streamline their sales process, including one-click purchasing, live chat, and customer data tracking.
They have robust platform integrations, with all the major players: Shopify, Magento, Facebook, Instagram, etc. They have detailed analytics and reporting tools, so that you can track sales performance and customer engagement, and work to optimize your Live Shopping strategies for better results.
Livescale is honestly one of the easier to start solutions, with a simple Shopify “add app” install you don’t even have to do a demo to get moving, and they are still being quite robust and scalable.
The one feature that I believe is currently missing is the live video editing. So for those looking for multiple guests, camera angles, or fancy overlays, you may pair Livescale with a tool like OBS Studio and find yourself a fairly strong and successful solution.
- Ecommerce Integration
- Shoppable products
- Google and Facebook pixel integrations
- In-video purchase
- Seamless Checkout
- Brand-owned experience control
- Live Polling
- Live Shopping event creation, cross-platform
Livescale starts at $99/month. Connect your Shopify store to get started with this tool and their pricing.
Empowering Short-form Video Storytelling Through Innovative Mobile-first Technology
Firework is an enterprise-level short-form video platform that offers a unique blend of social media, entertainment, and Ecommerce. The platform features vertical videos that are up to 30 seconds long, created by a community of users and professional content creators. Firework is designed to enable users to create and share videos that are both entertaining and informative, covering a wide range of topics, including beauty, fashion, travel, and more. In addition to its video creation and sharing features, Firework also integrates with various Ecommerce platforms, allowing users to make purchases directly from the platform.
One of the key features of Firework is its ability to facilitate Live Shopping events, where users can watch live video streams and purchase products directly from the stream. The platform enables brands and retailers to host Live Shopping events, featuring product demos, Q&A sessions, and other interactive elements that engage customers and drive sales.
Firework also offers a variety of marketing and analytics tools, allowing brands to track the performance of their Live Shopping events and to optimize their strategy for better results. With its focus on short-form video and Live Shopping, Firework is well-positioned to tap into the growing trend of social commerce and provide brands with a powerful new way to reach customers and drive sales.
- Creation Studio
- Livestream Shopping
- Shoppable Video
- Firework Amplification
- Instant Checkout
Firework offers different Livestream & Video plans for small brands, brands operating at scale and enterprise clients. Their Starter plan is at $2,499/mo while their Plus plan is at $4,999/mo. For any brand starting from scratch and just aiming to create vertical videos, they can create dynamic videos using Creation Cloud from Firework for free.
“Revolutionizing” Virtual Events with Immersive, Customizable and Interactive Video and Platform Solutions
Showday is a virtual event platform that enables brands to host online events, such as webinars, conferences, and product launches, in a highly interactive and engaging manner. The platform provides a range of tools for brands to create branded and immersive virtual environments, featuring live video streaming, 3D product demos, virtual booths, and networking tools that help to connect attendees with exhibitors and other participants. With its comprehensive suite of features and easy-to-use interface, Showday is a valuable solution for brands looking to take their events online and create a unique and memorable experience for their audience.
- Shoppable Video on your Website
- Engagement Features Designed to Convert
- Stream and Sell across Social Channels
- Host with Fanfare
- Easy Moderation
Showday offers various pricing plans based on the number of attendees and features required for the virtual event. Interested parties can contact their sales team for more information and to receive a personalized quote.
Enabling Seamless In-app Messaging Experiences with Real-time Communication and Collaboration Solutions
Channelize.io is a chat and messaging SDK (Software Development Kit) and API (Application-Program Interface) provider that enables brands to add real-time messaging and chat features to their web and mobile applications. The platform offers a range of tools and integrations, including chatbots, voice and video calling, and file sharing, that enable brands to provide a highly interactive and engaging communication experience for their users. Channelize.io is not meant to be out of the box, but instead, built for companies that really need something scalable and customizable, and something that needs to be integrated with a variety of popular development frameworks and tools. Channelize may be more popular for brands looking to add chat and messaging features to their existing applications, for example.
- Unlimited Buyer Audience
- Live Audience Chat
- Event Recording
- Multi-host Selling
- Email & SMS Notifications
Channelize.io offers a flexible pricing plan based on the number of monthly active users, features required, and additional services needed. You can try them for free, or you can opt to get their basic plan at $49/mo, or their Standard plan for $99/mo.
Gamified On-Site Streaming Live Events, with an Influencer Network
Reactive is a live streaming and video production company that specializes in increasing your on-site conversion rate with the power of Live Shopping. The company offers a range of services with their “Reactive Pro” plan, including: live streaming, video production, post-production, influencer management, technology implementation, and event management. With its team of experienced professionals and state-of-the-art equipment and technology, Reactive is a valuable solution for brands looking to create high-quality live events and content that resonate with their audience.
- Email Capture
- Gamification - such as discount timing tools
- Advanced Stream Analytics
- Full Suite of Live Selling Tools
- Video Embed
- Convert Social content to Shoppable Videos
- Reactive Pro services include: Creative and Video Production Services, Influencer Marketing Services, and implementation.
Reactive is free to install and charges based on the number of viewer minutes you receive each month, starting at $.005/viewer minute. For advanced features, their Business Plan is $99 + the .005/viewer minute. Your spending limit starts capped at $100 and you can choose to raise it as you see fit.
Live Shopping Network Embeddable On-Site and On-Social
TalkShop Live is a Live Shopping platform that enables brands to sell their products through live video streaming, social media, and mobile applications. With its focus on social commerce and live video, TalkShop Live is for brands looking to reach a wider audience and increase their sales through a more interactive and personalized shopping experience.
- Free to List and Stream
- Product Showcases
- Interactive Q&A sessions
- One-Click Purchasing
- Unlimited Shows
- Multiple Guests
- Automated Fulfillment
- Embed Anywhere
- Fundraising capabilities
- Integrates with most broadcast softwares
- Frictionless checkout - buyers never leave the stream
Free to start your own storefront and TalkShop will take 10.25% of all sales + $.30/transaction. They also have a Shopify integration which starts at 10% + .30/transaction.
Slimmed Down Social Selling Solution for Shopify Merchants
SoldLive is specifically built for Shopify brands who want to sell more on Facebook and Instagram with Live Streaming. They have great Shopify and Meta Integrations which has allowed them to offer slightly unique features like streaming to multiple Instagrams, Facebook groups, and enabling live takeovers. They allow customers to chat with the brand on social and then sync to your Shopify to be fulfilled with your existing fulfillment strategy.
- Automated Invoices
- Live Selling on Facebook and Instagram
- Cart Holds
- “I’m Live Now” Facebook Messages
- Automated Shoppables post-live
- Barcode scanning
- Live on multiple Instagrams simultaneously
- Stream to Facebook Groups
- Live takeovers
SoldLive starts at $30/month +5% of all live sales and.
Helping Creators Earn More by Monetizing Their Video Content
Maestro is more of a niche live streaming and event-centric engagement platform designed for creators, educators, and brands to create interactive and immersive experiences for their audience. Maestro’s unique angle is that they give you multiple ways to monetize your audience: ticketing, subscriptions, live selling, and sponsorships. This puts them right on the line between Live Shopping and Event Platform, but I wanted to include them because they do offer Live Shopping within their event experience platform.
With its focus on interactivity and engagement, Maestro is a valuable solution for brands, conferences and events, education providers, eSports and gamers, faith, and music-based businesses looking to build stronger connections with their audience and to create more impactful live events.
- Free and Paid Viewership
- Watch Together
- Live Selling
Maestro starts at $99/month with a 5% merchandising fee.
On-Site Full-Screen Live Shopping with Customer Engagement
Lyvecom is a virtual event platform that enables brands to create and host immersive and interactive online events, such as virtual conferences, trade shows, and product launches. Lyvecom brings multiple gamification elements into the live shopping experience, giving that more personalized and interactive feeling.
- Embed TikTok and Instagram videos on-site.
- Personalized shopping experiences and 1-1 video shopping
- Branded video player
- Add product videos and UGC to your Lives.
- Integrates with Klaviyo, Tapcart, Shogun, Shopify Flow, and Recharge.
- 1-Click checkout.
Request a demo to find out their pricing.
Personalized “Edge Storefronts” that mirror Social Media
SimplicityDX focuses more on the social selling side of Live Shopping and instead of overlaying widgets on your site, they take your social media channels content and create their own kind of micro-site with them, which is then designed to be highly engaging and easily shoppable, thus bridging that lost connection between social selling and truly owning the audience. Because they are hosting these micro-sites and have really focused on the technical side behind them, they’re able to ramp up page speed load time, personalize the experience, and really work on tried and true conversion rate optimization best practices that your Shopify site may not have built-in.
I’d say they are also best for campaign-focused brands that may want to highlight different products or bundles on a regular basis (the storefronts will work for evergreen products as well, but their ability to spin up micro-sites for each campaign launch is a really big win for those needing speed to market).
- “Edge” Storefronts
- Social Home (Link in Bio) Page
- AI personalization
- Klaviyo integration
- Dedicated domain
SimplicityDX charges based on page views, but to get a specific price quote, you will need to book a demo with their team.
Full-screen stories in-app and on-site
Less on the Live Shopping, but moreso on the Social Selling (but on your site) side of things, Storyly is 100% focused on the power of video, especially the full-screen mobile video that is so popular with Instagram stories, Snapchat, and TIkTok. By taking that experience onto the site and tying in links to quizzes and products, they add a healthy engagement and conversion rate optimization boost to your store.
- Short-form interactive video content
- In-story checkout
- In-story ads
- User-generated stories
- Shoppable video
- Mobile app embeddable
- Product Cards and Tags
- Smart Sorting
- Inbox Stories (in-email stories, super cool!)
- Countdowns, Timers, and Promo Codes
- Instagram Imports
You’ll have to contact Storyly to get more details on their pricing.
You have a few options to consider if you are serious about launching and growing your own, branded, Live Shopping channel.
The first, most obvious test, is to consider finding a related or complementary channel and seeing if you can sell products on that. Get feedback from your partner on performance, and let this guide your projections about the value, timeline to ROI, and risks with launching your own channel.
Remember, you may not be profitable on day 1, maybe even day 30. It’s really more about aggregating and training your audience over time to join you for the Lives. Also worth noting, you may not be able to directly track all sales from Live Shopping, some may trickle in days later through abandoned cart messages, people who saw an ad and remembered they saw you in a Live, etc.
Once you’ve decided to take the plunge, you then have to think about resource allocation. Are you going to do this yourself, hire someone, or partner with someone?
If you’re looking for a partner, we suggest our friend, and co-author of this article, Robyn Levin. You can book a free strategy session with her here.
And even if you’re thinking of doing it yourself, she can give great pointers to get you started, so I highly recommend a quick audit by a true expert before you kick off.
After you’ve got the resources, cost-benefit analysis, and strategy in place, it’s time to choose the right technology to complement it all. If you’ve got a larger budget, tons of demand for Live Shopping, and dedicated team members to shoot every day, you’re going to want a more serious, upmarket solution (see above). If you’re dabbling as a solo founder and really just want to push one stream to multiple channels and not much more, you’ll be able to choose one of the cheaper options.
Think it through. My point is that there is tech built for your needs, and if you come with the right strategy, you will find profitability on this channel. Good luck and keep me posted on how Live Shopping goes for you!
Additional Articles and Resources:
How Live Commerce Is Transforming The Shopping Experience, McKinsey
5 Livestreaming Myths Debunked, Retail Touch Point
Livestreaming Shopping Statistics, Fit Small Business
Livestreaming is about to Explode, Forbes
More Live Shopping Stats for 2023, Firework