Livestream shopping is growing in popularity as an effective strategy to boost customer loyalty and sales engagement on social media. Popular platforms have already embraced this raising revenue model supported by creators' unique ability to host real-time campaigns and impact their audiences.
TikTok introduced their TikTok Shopping in the US, UK, and Canada with Shopify in early 2021. The platform has been working on a series of features enabling creators to integrate products into videos and provide live shopping support. Facebook and Instagram have also followed the path by offering live shopping support and allowing users to instantly interact with followers.
In this scenario, it was expected to see YouTube exploring the potential of live shopping for boosting e-commerce and enhancing the experience of its globally engaged audience.
With more than 50 million subscribers to its channels, including music and premium, and over 2 billion active users, Youtube is the largest home of video creators - therefore the live shopping trend is to be a powerful moment for the platform.
The livestream shopping launch
YouTube debuted in this landscape by making on-demand videos shoppable before launching limited live shopping events with selected creators. The Small Biz Day, released in June 2021, worked as an experiment featuring live shopping via the Google Small Business channel. The project was the first step towards more pilots developed by the platform along with top creators.
The official testing and development of livestreaming shopping features happened in the last quarter of the year, resulting in their week-long shopping launch event "Holiday Stream and Shop", which took place in November.
In an interview on the YouTube blog, product designers for the YouTube Shopping service, Wendy Yang and Lax Poojary explained that "89% of viewers agree that YouTube creators give recommendations they can trust". Therefore, the main idea behind livestream shopping was to channel existing user behaviours with the help of influencers' recommendations.
The "Holiday Stream and Shop" event campaign brought influencer marketing to the next level, enabling viewers to interact in real-time with video creators while accessing direct shopping features. The duo 'The Merrel Twins' partnered with YouTube to introduce their favourite picks from Samsung, Verizon, and Walmart during the event. Viewers could also purchase new products and unlock offers. Dedicated to maximising the creator economy, YouTube promoted interactions, encouraging users and creators to engage through Q&As and polls in the chat feature.
Ahead of the launch, Youtube provided insights into its long-term aspirations, opening live streaming on mobile for all content publishers with a minimum of 10k subscribers. Then, they moved to content creators with fewer than 100k subscribers, as long as they shared revenue with advertisers.
The key features.
It is no wonder Youtube didn't jump on the livestream shopping wagon sooner. The video giant planned to develop features with added functionality and interactivity aiming to enhance the shopping experience. Considering YouTubers' recommendations hold weight for younger users, the launch of live shopping meant an opportunity to deepen the bond between content creators and audience groups like Gen Z - a strong target when it comes to purchasing power. YouTube live tools are set to help manage streams and interact with viewers in real-time, offering more functionality inside one of creators' favourite spaces.
Among the highlights, a unique chat feature for livestreams stands out: Super Chats. Super Chats is a paid feature within the chat function dedicated to helping content creators monetise their real-time content. Viewers can pay to get their comments pinned in the livestream's chat so that they can get the influencer's - or everyone else's - attention.
On top of it, Youtube supports the ever-growing creator economy through ad placements before or during their shows. Additional educational tools, such as YouTube Creator Academy, are also available to help creators build better quality transmissions.
Moreover, the platform offers basic features on two different streaming approaches: "Stream now" or schedule through "Events". Both enable creators to reach their audiences through subscribed notifications, event reminders, livestream display ads, invitations, promotional material and trailers.
How brands and creators are embracing Youtube livestream shopping.
YouTube is one of the favourite platforms for influencer marketing because it enables content creators to gain momentum and build an authentic presence while converging with other social media channels. The nature of the platform makes it easy for users to build better engagement and trust with their audience, hence presenting a unique potential for brands.
Several top creators have recently tested the new live shopping features. Simply Nailogical launched her new nail polish collection to 2.8 million fans directly on her channel, and Hyram unveiled his new "Selfless" skincare products to 4.5 million fans.
For the Holiday livestream shopping event, YouTube signed up content creators with huge audiences, such as Patrick Starrr, Gordon Ramsay and MrBeast, with the set goal of promoting items from a diverse range of brands. The event is part of YouTube's pitch to brands based on the fact video selling can prove to be more effective than e-commerce platforms - such as Amazon.
What's next for video shopping?
YouTube is following the huge potential of real-time shopping celebrated especially in the past two years - when new consumers' behaviour led to a noticeable increase in online purchasing and time spent with social media.
In addition to adding extra value to this landscape, with competitive features when compared to other platforms, the company is also looking to replicate the lucrative bonanzas in China - a real reference regarding livestream advances and tech. The Chinese social commerce was to hit $352 billion in 2021 - almost 10 times larger than the market in the U.S. Last October, Li Jiaqi - a top Chinese livestreamer - sold $1.9 billion of goods on the first day of Alibaba’s annual festival.
With 85% of its viewers trusting creators' recommendations and 75% using videos for shopping inspirations, Youtube sets a potent panorama for video shopping. Currently, millions of viewers leave to purchase elsewhere after video researching. The feature is expected to contribute to the experience offered by the platform, adding convenience for the audience and the creator.
It's clear the nature of YouTubers is based on the fact they are already creating organic videos about topics they're interested in. Therefore, turning an unboxing or review content into a livestream shopping moment means meaningful product promotion - a smart strategy to capture an audience that already shows loyalty to the platform.
- YouTube launched its first week-long livestream shopping event, "Stream and Shop", in November 2021.
- Super chat, a paid feature allowing the audience to stand out in a livestream chat, is a unique engagement functionality between content creators and their audiences.
- Other features supporting content creators include advertising with pre-roll and banner ads and educational resources via the YouTube Creator Academy.
- The potential for YouTube shopping is huge. The platform is perfect for e-commerce growth for brands as its viewers already use the channel for researching - so real-time shopping would mean convenience and effective promotion.
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