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Brick-and-mortar stores have been embracing virtual at hyper-speed since the outbreak of COVID-19 in 2020. Today, technology plays a huge role in every customer’s shopping experience from machine learning algorithms that provide personalized recommendations to chatbots that speed up customer resolutions. When it comes to online shopping, however, there has always been something missing: the in-store experience.

Shopping has always been a sensory journey. It helps customers evaluate a product before they head over to the checkout counter. While online yields convenience, what about the in-person aspect? Cue in livestream ecommerce. It is a convergence of live broadcasting and ecommerce, creating a two-way communication that closes the gap between customers and products.

Livestream ecommerce is entertaining, immersive and instantaneous. It keeps customers watching and wanting the product being showcased. Its live nature fosters deeper levels of engagement where viewers can get their voices heard and questions answered almost immediately. As for the human element, it improves brand appeal and resonance. This is especially true when paired with the right representative, influencer, celebrity or just about anyone with a Charisma score of above 16.

This already familiar-sounding concept is reminiscent of home shopping TV from the late 20th century. Now, this nostalgia has been updated to suit the digital era. Instead of watching shoppable content on TV aimed at the general public, this generation’s customers are viewing them on their desktops, laptops and mobile devices. With livestream ecommerce, businesses can transform online viewers into actual customers. It all begins by empowering them with intelligent tools like live chat, likes, instant buy button, auto-apply coupons and pop-up links without ever having to leave the app.

AI and machine learning can be used to further augment the quality of livestream ecommerce. By scanning ongoing live chat content and determining audience sentiment, businesses will be able to develop and suggest automated and relevant prompts on the fly. From there, the on-camera brand representative can rapidly evolve their storytelling in real-time to turn engagement into conversion and clinch the sale.

Data analytics also plays a part in enhancing the performance of future livestreams. As every interaction takes place on a virtual platform, copious amounts of data are being generated. This enables businesses to gain a deeper understanding of their customer data to create accurate demographic and engagement models based on customer personalities and preferences derived from live reactions and products purchased. These insights are crucial to plan appealing content, form meaningful affiliations, foster customer loyalty and develop new purchasing behaviors.

In the near future, emerging technologies like VR and AR will have great synergy with livestream, making the content they consume more immersive than ever. On the VR front, the in-store experience will be closer to reality as customers will be able to virtually ‘view’ a product from every angle and participate in the excitement of a big shopping event like a runway show or Singles’ Day promo. As for AR, customers can engage with livestream presenters to preview products around their personal space. This interaction does not only encourage sales but also boost purchasing confidence and reduce return rates.

If businesses still doubt the effectiveness of this new way of shopping, just take a look at China. Before livestream ecommerce became a worldwide phenomenon, China had ushered in the next wave of ecommerce revolution when Alibaba introduced Taobao Live in 2016. According to market research firm iResearch, China made US$150 billion in livestream sales in just 2020 alone. The country’s massive accomplishment with livestream ecommerce is indeed astounding. Businesses should view China’s success as a guide to take their ecommerce business to the next level.

Livestream ecommerce captures everything right about the digital trade: social interaction, inclusive community, ecommerce and mobile commerce. Its growing importance in modern society reflects the need for online shopping experience supported by human-driven connections. Businesses also have the opportunity to include customers as part of their brand story to build trust, loyalty and standing.

In the midst of every groundbreaking ecommerce innovation, the missing link has always been the human touch. This is the very reason why livestream ecommerce will continue to grow and thrive as we move into the next normal looming over the horizon.