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Live commerce: a brief guide

With the growth of video content booming and people interacting more in online spaces, the move to live commerce seems inevitable. This phenomenon started in China in 2016 and has started to be adopted in Western countries since the start of 2019. But what is live commerce and how can it boost your small business?

What is live commerce?

This method of selling is where online shopping, live video, and customer interaction converge. With the use of live videos, you showcase your products which your customers can ask questions about live, and then, if they are satisfied the product will help them with their needs, they can purchase the item directly in the app without moving to another platform to make the purchase.

What are the benefits and drawbacks of live commerce?

The benefits of live commerce are:

  • Build strong customer relations: As the customers get to see the face behind the brand, they can become familiar with you. Through this familiarity, trust is built, and we have heard it said that when a customer knows, likes and trusts us then they may become life-long customers and great brand advocates.
  • Decreases overheads: When you use a digital platform, your overheads decrease as you don’t need to hire a shop space in one of the malls.
  • Learn your customers’ wants: As you listen and interact with your customers, you can hear what aspects of your product or industry need to be improved. You could also debunk myths about your product.
  • Reach a larger audience: You are not limited by the physical space of your shop. You can have customers from all over the country shopping at your store.

But with all the benefits, there are some drawbacks:

  • Your product breaks down. You unbox the product, start to use it, and it malfunctions. This is probably a product maker’s worst nightmare. Before you go live check that the products you have are in good working order.
  • Your host goes off script: This can be a good thing, but it could also be a bad thing. They may suggest that the product can do something, and it can’t. This could lead to a lawsuit if severe. They may also give away too many free offers. Your host ought to behave in a professional and friendly manner which will build a good rapport with your audience.
  • Your audience is unavailable: You have put your time and energy into producing an excellent product, but no one arrives for your live event. If you don’t have a pre-existing audience, you will need to do some marketing before the event to create interest and excitement for your live event.

How to setup for live commerce

Like with any new sales option, it is crucial to plan and prepare to make the execution memorable. Here are the steps to consider when setting up for live commerce.

STEP 1: Choose a platform

There are many different platforms available for live commerce. You could use the in-app option for social media platforms. They are:

1. Instagram Live shopping,
2. Facebook Live shopping, and
3. TikTok Live shopping.

You could also use a stand-alone app which will broadcast to your social media pages. They are:

  • Channelize: This app integrates with your WooCommerce site.
  • Live Scale: this app integrates with your Shopify site.
  • Bambuser: this app integrates with most e-commerce platforms but may be a bit expensive for small businesses starting out in live commerce.

When choosing a platform ensure that it has components which are important for you and your brand.

STEP 2: Decide on a format

To publish a successful stream that people continue to watch, you need to be consistent and create a theme which people enjoy engaging with. You can use a series of different formats but they should be branded so your audience recognises it as your business. Here are some formats that work well for e-commerce platforms:

1. Product tutorials: Does your audience need a guide on how to use your product? If you are a stationery supplier, you could create a live stream where you use different stationery to create an artwork and when you use the various products you can feature them to your live audience.

2. Behind-the-scenes tours: Everyone is interested in how entrepeneurs go about their business, and you could answer any questions related to your behind-the-scenes process. Just make sure you don’t give away any trade secrets.

3. Live Q&A sessions: You could have a live Q&A session with your audience or with someone about the problem your product solves. If possible, you could get an expert who can help to give insights into the problem. For example: if you are a beautician and supply your audience with a specific skincare range, you could get an expert from the company to speak about the different products and feature them as they are mentioned.

STEP 3: Practice your script

Going live suggests that what you do is off the cuff, but you can practice what you will say about your product and practice answers to some frequently asked questions that you might get asked. You should also set up which products you will feature in this live session. You don’t want to overwhelm your customers with too many choices so pick a few items for your shopping list. You should also decide on any giveaways you might offer during the live session.

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