Facebook wants to whet consumers’ appetite for live streamed shopping with this week’s launch of “Live Shopping Fridays” event series, which will see larger brands live streaming beauty, skincare, and fashion content on a weekly basis. The event begins Friday, May 22nd and runs through mid-July, with streams from brands like Abercrombie and Fitch, Bobbi Brown, Clinique, Sephora, Dermalogica, Alleyoop, and Zox.
The events are meant to encourage larger brands to try out live shopping as a medium, as well as generally raise awareness about live shopping on Facebook among consumers.
The brands will use their live shopping events in a number of ways. They may give a behind-the-scenes look at their business or they may partner with creators to showcase their products in “how-to” style videos, for example.
During the live streams, viewers can comment and ask questions which brands can read and respond to. Shoppers can also tap on the products displayed in the stream to learn more without having to leave the video. If they want to buy, they can add them to the cart and check out at any time — during or even after the event has wrapped. The brands receive the customer’s shipping information, and if the consumer opts in, they can gain access to other details as well, like email and phone number.
Live stream video shopping became publicly available on Facebook last summer, following a series of smaller trials and beta tests, where the format initially found traction with smaller to medium-sized businesses and digital-first brands, Facebook says.
The Covid pandemic also pushed adoption of the format, in some cases, as creative business owners turned to live shopping to reach their customers when lockdowns closed non-essential businesses.
More recently, larger brands like Petco and Bobbi Brown have run live shopping events — the former as part of a charity effort, and the latter with a live stream featuring tips from makeup artist Michele Shakeshaft. (Pictured)
“The way that we’re thinking about this is that e-commerce has made buying incredibly convenient. So when you have a need, you pull out your phone, purchase, and your order is on its way,” explains Yulie Kwon Kim, who leads product for Facebook App Commerce.
“But buying is not shopping. And so, a lot of what people do is window shop to see what’s new, for entertainment. You discover something cool that you didn’t know about. When you’re shopping, people often want to hear from a live person, get suggestions, and see the product and context,” she says. “And increasingly, people are discovering and deciding what to buy through social media,” Yulie adds.
She also notes that almost three-quarters of consumers globally are getting shopping ideas through Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, and WhatsApp, and almost two-thirds agree that social media has now become as important as other information sources when making purchase decisions.
Facebook says the live events will be presented to consumers in a number of ways during the summer. If you follow a brand, you’ll be notified of their participation. You’ll also see News Feed announcements where you’ll be notified when events are starting (see above). And the Facebook Shop tab will offer a schedule of upcoming live shopping streams taking place across the platform.
Facebook, of course, is not the only one to realize the potential in live shopping.
Startups like NTWRK, Popshop Live, Talkshoplive, Dote, Bambuser, and others brought the live shopping model already popular in China to the U.S. and other markets, many months before the pandemic. TikTok has been testing live shopping, including with Walmart in the U.S., as well.
Amazon, meanwhile, live streams to its website, and YouTube announced earlier this year its beta tests of an integrated e-commerce experience.
As for Facebook, a live shopping platform could ultimately serve as a significant revenue stream, thanks to selling fees applied at checkout. While Facebook did waive those selling fees through June 2021 — a decision it claims was to help support small businesses during the Covid-19 pandemic — that move also conveniently helps Facebook stake its place in the live stream shopping market land grab now underway. Facebook also needs to diversify its revenue, given that Apple’s privacy push around third-party tracking will hurt Facebook’s ad business.
Facebook’s Live Shopping Fridays series will roll out across both mobile and desktop in the U.S. this week, and will also pop on Facebook’s Shop Tab for easy access.