What the Rise of Live Video Means for the Future of Retail

For years, live video and retail were two separate entities, but thanks to the growth of live streaming and other live content trends in the U.S., both consumers and businesses are looking to the technology as a new means of communication and interaction with the world around them.

From a retailer’s perspective, taking advantage of live video opens up a wealth of opportunities in marketing, customer service, and even revenue. It’s no wonder then that major retailers like Amazon and QVC operate their own live video shopping platforms.

As retail becomes increasingly focused on technology and about creating immersive experiences for consumers, e-commerce sites and brick-and-mortar retailers alike should consider the ways they can utilize live streaming, interactive broadcasting, and other live video formats to engage with their audiences and increase sales.

From East to West

For years live video was popular mainly in mobile-first economies like Asia where live streaming has become a common pastime among consumers. Eventually, live streaming became more than just a social media trend and made its way to the retail sector, and today thousands of merchants use online shopping platforms like Taobao and Tmall to live stream their products to thousands of viewers around the world on a daily basis.

Until recently, only a few retailers had experimented with live streaming in the states. Kohl’s became one of the first to utilize the technology when the company live streamed a fashion show for its in-house brand LC Lauren Conrad during New York Fashion Week in 2015. Interested customers could view the show live on Periscope and then purchase their favorite items directly from the website. Though the show garnered media attention, the live shopping trend failed to catch on during that time.

Live Streaming Revolution

While live shopping has still not hit its stride in the U.S., live streaming is becoming an increasingly popular feature among social media and gaming applications. Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat have all integrated “Live” features into their platforms, and users on apps like LiveMe and YouNow are live broadcasting millions of hours of live video content every day.

But it isn’t just an increase in user awareness that has contributed to the growth of live video in the U.S. Thanks to a number of factors, including the proliferation of mobile devices, better network connectivity, and increasing demand for API-driven cloud communications technology, live video technology has greatly improved in the last few years. Instead of building an entire communications infrastructure, developers can now integrate the technology into their platforms using existing frameworks.

Interactive Shoppable Videos

So what does all of this mean for the future of retail? In short, the time is ripe for retailers to utilize live video.
In the future, we will see more retailers creating live video experiences for their customers. However, rather than record one-off video campaigns, they’ll invest in the medium as a significant retail strategy—one that will not only help them engage with their audiences and increase sales but attract new shoppers from all over the world they might not have reached otherwise.

Though some retailers will choose to utilize platforms like Amazon Live, others will create their own live video experiences by taking advantage of third-party solutions providers. By implementing live video, voice, and broadcasting solutions into their existing platforms, they’ll be able to market and sell their products and services to their customers directly and customize the live shopping experience based on their specific preferences.

Like conversational commerce and voice commerce, live video shopping will take time to grow and be seen as a viable retail channel. As more retailers look to the medium to create unique, immersive, and convenient experiences for their customers, live video will help them thrive in an increasingly experience-focused retail industry.

Reggie Yativ is the Chief Revenue & Operating Officer at Agora.io

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