Live Selling 101: Creating Shoppable Videos

7 min read

What is Live Selling?

Have you tuned into a TV channel like HSN or QVC, where live hosts engage audiences while describing the benefits of the products they’re selling? Did you notice how personable the host was, as if you were there with them, and how they addressed customers who called in like they were regular shoppers? That’s the same magic live selling has! 

Live selling is when retailers sell products to multiple customers at once by streaming live video online to websites, mobile apps, or social media channels. Sellers are increasingly selling through live streaming video to showcase their inventory in real-time. Because sellers develop personal connections with their customers, successful live selling does not feel like shoppers are being sold to.

In the past few years, live selling has grown quickly, from TV to a rapidly growing online audience around the world. This is because retailers are connecting with their customers on a more personal level. Sellers can send highly targeted messages to more customers at once, but each customer feels a personal connection to the host they see on screen.

How Does Live Video Selling Work?

With live selling, customers buy directly from live videos that they view on websites, in apps, and on social media channels like Facebook and Instagram. Depending upon how the video is being streamed and where it’s being seen, customers can buy directly in the video or social media channel they’re viewing from. 

Retailers streaming live videos to social media channels or websites without direct-buy capabilities will often instruct customers to buy the products they’re presenting from their e-commerce stores. The host will demonstrate how an item looks and how it works or fits in real-time, imitating the in-store sales experience for viewers watching on their mobile phones, tablets, laptops, computers, and Internet-enabled TVs.

Social interaction is a key component to successful live video selling. During a live stream, the interactions between the host and their audience—and viewers’ ability to like, comment, and share the video with their friends and family on social media channels—encourage increased engagement, brand loyalty, and sales.  

By live selling, retailers can put a face to the products that their customers are buying. Customers shopping have the opportunity to ask questions in real-time and learn more about product features, or interact with others by commenting and sharing during live streams.

Like TV shopping programs that appear at regularly scheduled dates and times, retailers can plan their video streams so their customers know when to expect to see them. Like TV hosts, the most successful live-selling retailers are authentic, personal, and engaging, so their customers look forward to watching them. 

Where Live Selling Happens

With the expansion of video streaming apps and broadband Internet access, more video is accessible across the Internet and on mobile devices. Live selling is happening anywhere retailers can stream live video, including social media channels, websites and e-commerce stores, and branded apps. Now that 97% of people in the U.S. own a mobile phone and 73% of them have smartphones, it may not be surprising that 63% of videos in the U.S. are viewed on mobile phones.

A live e-commerce platform like CommentSold offers live video shopping capabilities integrated with shoppable features to streamline online video selling while making product and inventory management easier for retailers. Live sales videos that are streamed from CommentSold’s live commerce platform offer simultaneous multichannel streaming functionality to enable retailers to expand their live stream audience to include their website, a branded app, and social media channels.. 

Customers can interact with each other or with hosts and “comment ‘sold’” during live streams as a fun and instantaneous way to buy products. The CommentSold platform enables customers to shop the replays of live videos, further expanding the audience reach to customers who weren’t able to attend the live stream. 


The Global Impact of Live Selling

The live selling trend became popular in China in 2016, where it generated $171 billion in sales revenue in 2020 and is expected to generate as much as $423 billion by the end of 2022. Live sales revenue in the U.S. is expected to reach $25 billion by the end of 2023. The popularity of live selling expanded to other countries during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and is still on an upward trend. Improvements in streaming technology and better accessibility to streaming tools make it easier for small and large retailers to compete on an equal footing.

Why Retailers Like Live Selling

Retailers who are live selling like having the ability to reach audiences of customers who are already interested in their products at any time of the day since four times as many customers would rather watch videos about products than read about them. That’s partly why they can make as much as $300 per minute in a single live sale. Other revenue-generating live selling benefits include:

  • Encouraging increased website sales and higher average order values with more qualified online traffic.
  • Shortening customer journeys and reducing marketing costs. Rather than relying on print ads, direct mail, and TV or radio ads, retailers can reach customers directly via social media and email to let them know when to watch live streams where they can interact directly.
  • Differentiating brands and products, and using their personalities, builds solid brand identities through real-time demonstrations and conversations with viewers.
  • Building stronger relationships with customers creates a stronger sense of trust and can result in creating better social proof as customers like and share retailers’ content.
  • Educating customers can reduce product returns. Retailers who demonstrate products and explain features in detail help their customers better understand an item’s benefits and make more informed buying choices.

Why You Should Be Live Selling 

Creating strong personal connections helps generate more revenue opportunities in less time by shortening the customer journey to conversion. 

  • Live video has six times more organic reach than any other form of social post, which means you can get six times the reach without paying for ad placement.
  • You’ll receive 10 times more comments on live videos than on recorded videos, which can mean 10 times the opportunity to engage with interested customers.
  • You can generate as much as $300 per minute during a live selling session because you’re addressing interested customers and tapping into the fun of impulse shopping through engaging, interactive video.

Live Selling is Here to Stay

Customers enjoy relating to real people instead of reading brochures or web pages. They crave a personal connection with brands and products, which is likely why 93% of brands acquired new customers from videos they shared on social media. Live selling helps retailers establish and maintain that connection with their customers. 

Reaching customers online is convenient and efficient. Connecting through live online video creates a sense of exclusivity and immediacy. Customers often look forward to tuning in regularly to watch live streams from their favorite brands, because live video is unpredictable and fun to watch. Live video shopping imparts a sense of newness for customers, encouraging them to feel as though they’re at the forefront of new fashions and trends.

How to Start Live Selling

You can start live selling as easily as logging into a social media channel like Facebook and enabling the video recorder on your mobile phone. A little extra preparation can make the difference between a good first impression and a great one for your customers.

The Basic Equipment You Need to Go Live 

You probably already have a smartphone. The camera in most smartphones is sufficient to get you started live streaming. The best orientation for live streaming is to hold your phone vertically. You’ll also want to make sure you have a good, dependable Internet connection to create a steady viewing experience for your customers without awkward stuttering. As you progress, you may want to invest in a good ring light, mic, display monitor, backdrop, and other equipment to improve your production quality.

How to Create Smooth User Experience for Your Customers 

The easier it is to click a “buy” button without interruption, the greater the chance that more people will purchase while tuning in to a live sale. CommentSold lets visitors shop right from the live stream without leaving the video. Shoppers can add products to their shopping cart as they watch. Customers can purchase simultaneously from live video streams in the webstore, the app, and live on Facebook pages or VIP customer groups you create. 

After your video stream has concluded, you can keep the sales momentum going by encouraging customers to shop your video replays. You can post those replays on other social media channels with a link to your webstore to boost sales.

Engage Your Customers with These Live Selling Tips 

These tips can help shorten your path to live selling success:

  • Prepare and rehearse before your live stream to avoid missteps.
  • Post about your live stream beforehand on your website and social media channels, then go live at a regularly scheduled time and be punctual.
  • Be personal, learn and use your customers’ names; ask and answer their questions.
  • Remind customers to buy products that they may have added to their carts. Encourage them to checkout frequently during the duration of your live sale.
  • Ask customers to like and share your video to expand its reach.

The Takeaway

If you’ve been looking for a way to connect with and engage customers to build and enhance relationships, live video should be part of your marketing mix. But if you’re also looking for a new way to boost your sales revenue, you should be live selling. A little preparation goes a long way, and you can differentiate yourself and your products in the eyes of your customers with as little as a smartphone and a social media account or a website.

To learn more, download the Complete Guide to Live Sales!

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