When experts predicted that lives shopping was going to be one of the biggest ecommerce trends of the future, more than a few questioned its staying power. But now is the time to put aside your skepticism. What’s old is suddenly new again, as consumers are buying in—literally—to a shopping format first pioneered in the 1970s.
But it’s just been within the last two years that the rest of the world has started to catch up. Lives shopping events generated an estimated $5.6 billion in US sales in 2020. It’s projected to reach $11 billion by the end of 2021 and nearly $25 billion by 2023, according to Coresight Research, a firm that specializes in retail and technology. And according to McKinsey, if China’s experience is any guide, live commerce sales could account for as much as 20% of all ecommerce by 2026.
The pandemic played no small part in the resurgence of this method of shopping. For cities and countries still in lockdown, live shopping is the experience that most closely resembles in-person shopping. Buyers can watch people try on products in real time and comment, allowing the brand to get feedback instantly. There’s often a human element, like a well-known influencer or personality who acts like a glamorous version of a buyer’s favorite customer support staff. Consider Viya, a popular livestreamer from China. She had a conversation with Kim Kardashian West just before Singles’ Day (China’s answer to Black Friday), aiding the influencer mogul in selling 150,000 bottles of perfume in seconds.