We've explored many of the ways COVID-19 has brought streaming video to the forefront, from the explosion of OTT streaming and growth of enterprise video to live-streamed "quarantine concerts," church services, and online learning. One thing we haven't touched on, though, is how live streaming can play a pivotal role for retailers large and small to connect with their customers when those customers can't—or would just prefer not to—visit their favorite shops.
According to Daniel Mayer, the CEO of Be.Live, a platform that gives live streamers the ability to customize and band their streams to Facebook Live, YouTube, or an embedded link on a webpage, the U.S. and Europe is beginning to catch on to a trend that's already popular in Asia and Russia. "For 5 or 10 years, Russia has been operating around live shopping," Mayer says. "In China, you're able to buy whatever you like using live shopping, and [consumers] are spending tons of money supporting live shopping and influencers.
"We're watching how retailers all over the world, specifically in the United States and Europe, are starting to use the live shopping feature that we have—the ability to show products on screen with the product description, name, pricing," Mayer says. He says that Be.Live has seen a 70x increase in the number of customers using its live shopping feature.
Be.Live currently offers two pricing levels. The free tier lets retailers stream up to three shows per month with up to two people on screen to YouTube or Facebook Live with a Be.Live watermark in the video. The standard plan, which costs $24.99 per month, offers unlimited streams per month, custom branding and appearance (with no watermark), up to four people on screen, and can simulcast to both YouTube and Facebook Live. Soon the company will also offer a pro plan, which adds more simulcast destinations, RTMP input, and a custom RTMP destination, in addition to all the features in the standard plan. Be.Live also allows you to create scripts and an agenda to help you stay on track during your live stream.
And while retail closures due to COVID-19 were the impetus behind the move to live shopping, Mayer doesn't think it's a temporary change. "It's not a trend, and we have to understand that," he says. "We should start understanding the definition of the 'new normal,' and not using live [streaming] in general is the biggest mistake for any business owner." Consumers want not just the ability to shop online, but the ability to have an experience and an interaction with an expert they trust—think visiting a record or bookstore and getting recommendations from the staff about what you might like. Live streaming gives retail owners the chance to not only make sales, but acquire new customers and build relationships and communities around their businesses.
So retailers and etailers should plan on going live soon, if they haven't already. Mayer has a few suggestions for how to do it right.
Sure, it's a cliché at this point, but if you're going on screen, don't try to be someone you're not. "You will be embarrassed, right?," Mayer says. "But if you are presenting yourself as an authentic person, go live no matter what, no matter what your agenda is, no matter what you are trying to say, you will engage with your customers and build relationships." Relationships are what build customer loyalty, and the best way to establish a relationship is to have honest conversations with your customers and potential customers about everything from the products you're selling to the health concerns everyone is facing right now.
Demonstrate Your Expertise
"Share something unique, some knowledge that only you have," Mayer says. "Based on that knowledge, you are able to gain credibility from the community." Don't just show them your products; show them something they don't know about the products or how to use them. If it's applicable to your business, demonstrate a skill or a process that your customers might not already have or know.
Don't Waste Your Viewers' Time
"If you don't have messaging or anything newsworthy to share, we are not just sitting there waiting on Facebook for your live show," Mayer says. "We are here to gain new knowledge. We are here to lean about new trends, something unique and special you're able to share with us. So create a small script for your show, respect your viewers and their time." Be.Live's agenda feature allows retailers to stay focused.
Listen to Customer Feedback
While of course the ultimate goal is to get people to buy what you're selling, that begins with having a conversation with your audience. "It's like the moment you are entering a store," Mayer says. "The sales person starts to speak with you, and now you're having a public conversation, and that sales person can gain your confidence by listening to you and your concerns."
Pick a Time and Stick with It
Once you find a time that works for you and seems to resonate with your customers, go live at that same time every week. "Going live every week on the same day at the same time is a fundamental key for success once you're live," Mayer says. "Your audience should remember that every Monday at 10 a.m. EST, you are going live. Then your customers will wait for your show."
written by Eric Schumacher-Rasmussen