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2023 seems to be the year that livestream shopping on social media is going to take off. Last year, large brands started hosting big livestream shopping events around major holidays, and now it looks like the trend is going mainstream. Just about any small business owner can now host events, and based on the data that’s rolling in, it can be extraordinarily profitable.
What is livestream shopping and why is it so popular?
With so many TikTok and Instagram influencers these days, it was perhaps only a matter of time before they found a way to sell products directly to their fans and followers. It’s really a win-win for everyone involved. Influencers and celebrities, of course, get paid for their efforts. The big social media platforms get a cut of all the profits. And fans and followers get exactly what they want, without the annoyance of trying to find the exact website where a product can be purchased online. TikTok, for example, has streamlined the livestream shopping process so much that everything is handled seamlessly right inside TikTok.
There’s so much money to be made on social media, apparently, that some brick-and-mortar stores are shutting down and going entirely digital. They can go live on several platforms simultaneously, and make a killing in the process. The latest market sizing estimates are out, in fact, and they suggest that U.S. livestream sales could hit $50 billion. That’s already a huge number, of course, but it could get much bigger soon. By some estimates, livestream social media sales could represent 5% of total e-commerce sales by the year 2026.
Who should use livestream shopping?
In many ways, livestream shopping is nothing new. While it might be new for social media platforms like Instagram and TikTok, it’s not new to American consumers generally speaking. At some point in your life, you’ve probably watched one of those home shopping channels on cable TV – you know, the ones like QVC and Home Shopping Network with impossibly beautiful and charismatic individuals offering praise for the “remarkable” and “magnificent” products in front of them. People really buy those things they see on the TV, and now the same type of experience is coming to social media.
As you might have guessed by now, there are certain categories of products that are perfect for livestream shopping. Anything fashion or beauty-related, for example, will probably do well. Any type of collectible or unique item that needs a bit of explanation would also work well, which perhaps explains why eBay wants to get into the business. Generally speaking, if you can find an influencer within a certain niche, you can find products that they can help you sell by going live.
How big is the opportunity?
Of course, just because livestream shopping is hot right now doesn’t mean that it’s right for everyone. While market analysts now proclaim that livestream shopping can add 25% top-line growth to any small brand or boutique business, a lot of that growth is simply coming from the novelty of it all. The COVID lockdowns forced us all into our homes, and the remote work trend makes it possible to sit in front of the computer all day while working (or, at least, pretending to work). So that explains part of the allure of livestream shopping. It’s what you do when you’re locked in your home and looking for a break.
The big question is just how much growth we’re going to see 12 months from now, once COVID is long behind us. Meta, for example, is shutting down its support for live shopping on both Facebook and Instagram, perhaps a sign that it’s not quite as profitable as some might think. But certainly, if you are looking for a way to boost short-term sales at your business, then it’s worth trying out livestream shopping for certain product categories. Right now, it’s the hot trend of 2023.