“What if you could see this season’s latest trends modeled in real time, ask questions about how they fit, select your size and buy, all from the comfort of your home?” Facebook posited on its announcement blog post on Tuesday. “Live Shopping on Facebook combines the fun of live video with the convenience of online shopping. And this summer, we’re bringing some of the biggest brands together for a showcase of products, tips, demos and more through Live Shopping Fridays.“
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The series is organized into three rotating categories — Glow Up, New Fashion Finds and Self Care Spotlight — and will kick off this Friday with Sephora, which is planning to focus on “seasonal must-haves.”
Alleyoop plans to feature tips and tricks to complete a full look in minutes, as well as the opportunity for fans to connect with founder Leila Kashani and ask her product questions or learn more about the company, its backstory and genesis and how its most popular products came to life. Other participating brands slated to hold sessions over the following weeks include Abercrombie & Fitch, Bobbi Brown Cosmetics, Clinique Dermalogica, Dolce Vita and ZOX, according to Facebook.
Shoppers will be able to access the streams on the brands’ Facebook Pages or hit up the Shop tab or bookmark on their mobile devices, and check out products through Facebook Shops.
The social media company officially launched Live Shopping last summer, as the COVID-19 pandemic kept many consumers out of physical stores. The feature reportedly saw traction among smaller brands and digital-first operators, but its appeal appears to be broadening, drawing established purveyors who are increasingly turning to live stream shopping.
Walmart’s work with TikTok may spring to mind immediately, thanks to a much-publicized livestreaming partnership for holiday and spring campaigns. Bobbi Brown also hosted a livestream event featuring tips from makeup artist Michele Shakeshaft on Instagram Live, as well as embedded on its own site.
Plenty of brands and retailers have become enamored with this form of selling, which can best be described as social media meets QVC, but with more interactivity.
“With TikTok recently announcing that they’re testing in-app shopping, it’s a smart play for Facebook to announce this new shopping series to continue to attract younger audiences and brands to its platform,” Meg Johnson, senior vice president of marketing at online marketplace Jane, told WWD. Jane, which offers women’s apparel, accessories, home goods and children’s wear, was an early beta tester of Facebook and Instagram Shops, so it’s had a front-row view of the tech company’s shopping platform.
Jane started out testing Instagram’s shopping features in July 2020 with product-tagged posts, shoppable product collections, live shopping and drops. According to the company, it saw results jump more than $200,000 in incremental sales from July 2020 through February 2021, 18,700 new visitors come to their Instagram page and a 27-fold increase in social commerce sales between the holidays and March 2021.
While Facebook offers a combination of different commerce tools, live shopping could become a marquee feature. “These shopping events are reminiscent of the type of live shopping you’d typically see on HSN or QVC,” Johnson added, “but by bringing in notable brands like Bobbi Brown Cosmetics and Clinique, they’re elevating the status of live shopping and bringing it into the digital age by promoting it across social media.”
The concept is still nascent in the U.S. compared to China, which saw more than 430 million people, or roughly 30 percent of its population, tune in to livestream shopping events in 2019. In other words, it was already huge even before the pandemic spiked online viewership.
There’s deep interest in, and optimism about, replicating that trend in the U.S. But that’s easier said than done. In China, the technical infrastructure is already in place, thanks to giants like Alibaba’s Taobao, Kuaishou, Pinduoduo and Douyin, the ByteDance-owned sibling to TikTok.
ByteDance is obviously taking aim at American consumers now via TikTok, as Facebook vies to take the top spot as the leading platform in the U.S. Meanwhile, others are cuing up their own livestreaming features.
Pinterest will kick off a three-day event on May 24 with live sessions focusing on its creator community, with highlights including appearances by Jonathan Van Ness and Rebecca Minkoff. The live event wasn’t designed to push product, per se, but the company ultimately decided to let creators tag products with Product Pins for shopping functionality.
Retailers and brands are also embedding livestream videos on their own e-commerce sites, while the veterans in the space, QVC and HSN, naturally continue plying cable TV and the web with live demos.
But in the digital era, back-and-forth interactions are key and that’s social media’s specialty. There’s also no need to convince consumers to adopt a new platform or head to a different online destination. The audience is already there, with platforms bursting with existing and potential customers. This is the strength that Facebook brings to the table, with 1.88 billion daily active users and 2.85 billion monthly actives as of the first quarter of 2021.
By continuously rolling out and promoting new experiences, like live shopping, the social media giant could accomplish a few different goals — to keep the interest of its massive user base, maybe even grow it, while building on the commerce foundation established last year with the launch of Facebook and Instagram Shops and generating more revenue.
The beauty and fashion crowds have already shown enormous appetite for livestream shopping, so it makes sense for the tech company to focus there. And if its work pays off, these sectors could speed Facebook’s path from social media giant to social commerce giant.