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Live Shopping: Everything eCommerce Merchants Need to Know
eCommerce Digital Marketing 101

Live Shopping: Everything eCommerce Merchants Need to Know

In this post, we’ll cover what live shopping is, why experts are saying it is the next big thing for eCommerce, what benefits brands are seeing with live shopping efforts, and how to start streaming. 

March 30, 2022

Start teasing that hair and put on a Madonna album because we are headed back to the 80s. Shopping channels are back (well, a modern version of them), and they are predicted to be a monumental trend for eCommerce brands. While this form of shopping was pioneered in the 1980s with shopping channels like QVC, live shopping has incredible benefits that fill in the missing pieces of eCommerce shopping for consumers. 

In this post, we’ll cover what live shopping is, why experts are saying it is the next big thing for eCommerce, what benefits brands are seeing with live shopping efforts, and how to start streaming. 

What is Live Shopping? 

Live shopping is a form of social commerce where a brand can demonstrate products, engage and answer questions from viewers in real-time, and share links right on the screen for viewers to buy. Customers can tune in via websites or apps on their mobile phone or desktop. 

Live shopping shouldn’t be stiff or boring for viewers. Viewers need an incentive to tune into events. Brands are using celebrities, influencers, and field experts to add interest. Another approach is using live shopping events as an opportunity for viewers to learn, such as makeup tutorials or how to style outfits. 

Footwear brand Aldo tested out live shopping by having celebrity stylist Mimi Cuttrell and entertainer Nate Wyatt host their live shopping event. The two hosts showed how to style Aldo’s latest collection. Within five days after the live stream, Aldo’s website saw about 17,000 page views with an average viewing time of over 12 minutes. 

Nordstrom is another brand that is investing in live shopping. A brand known for its incredible in-person shopping experience, Nordstrom launched a live shopping channel on its site. Missed live events can be watched on-demand, or customers can RSVP for upcoming events which include giveaway opportunities. Fanya Chandler, a senior vice president at Nordstrom, said in an interview about their live streaming, “There’s so much opportunity for us to get closer to the customer. We hope customers see this as an opportunity to seamlessly shop and participate in an informative and entertaining event.”

China’s Success With Live Shopping 

To see the possible success of live shopping, brands need to look to China. Live shopping became a phenomenon for Chinese shoppers. By March 2020, live shopping was used by 265 million people, which is almost 30 percent of Chinese internet users. McKinsey reports that the value of China’s live shopping market grew at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of more than 280 percent between 2017 and 2020, to reach an estimated $171 billion in 2020. 

With China’s experience as a guide, McKinsey predicts that live-commerce-initiated sales could account for as much as 10 to 20 percent of all eCommerce by 2026.

Benefits of Live Shopping 

Live shopping fills in the gaps between shopping in-person and eCommerce. In some ways, live shopping goes beyond shopping in-person because of the extra context, knowledge, or entertainment provided by the live stream. 

Demonstrate Products 

Whether you are debuting a new product or showcasing a best seller, live shopping gives you the opportunity to demonstrate your products and receive instant feedback or questions. When the viewer is fully informed about a product, they will feel more comfortable buying. 

Fewer Returns 

A survey by the NRF found that eCommerce brands have an average rate of return of 20.8%. Many eCommerce brands do an amazing job of product photography and even product videos, but live shopping can take this to a whole new level. 

According to Coresight research, customers from live shopping streams are 50% less likely to return an item than traditional online channels. 

Faster Customer Journey 

Live shopping creates a frictionless customer journey all the way to purchase. Consumers are becoming aware of new products, learning why the product is great, and are given the link to the exact product for purchase all in one experience. 

Taps into FOMO 

Live shopping creates an experience that taps into FOMO (the fear of missing out), which means customers are tuning in and staying, so they don't miss out. 30% of US shoppers reported using live shopping because of the exciting shopping experience. 

How to Host Live Shopping

There are three ways to host live shopping: 

Commerce Platforms 

Many commerce platforms have their own live shopping solution available. If you have an Amazon storefront, it is as easy as downloading the Amazon Live App and signing in with your Seller Central credentials. Or if you are one of the 1.75 million merchants with a Shopify store, Shopify Plus merchants can access live shopping options through a couple of Shopify partners. 

Checking your eCommerce platform for live shopping capabilities is a great place to start. 

Social Media Platforms

All the major social media platforms have some kind of live shopping options for brands.


You can use Facebook’s live shopping tool on both desktop and mobile devices. Before you go live, you will want to make sure your shop is set up and any products that you would like to showcase on your live stream are added to your catalog at least three days before you go live. 

Then it is as easy as starting your live shopping video, choosing the Playlist of products you have created, and starting your live stream. 


Instagram allows brands and creators to host live shopping through the app by pinning products in a live video. Viewers will be able to buy or save products as they are presented. Brands can add up to 30 products to showcase, and you can pin one item at a time while you showcase that item. 


Brands are thriving on TikTok. We’ve all seen what Duolingo is doing there, right? It allows your company to truly show your brand personality. Currently, TikTok is a little behind Facebook and Instagram with their commerce capabilities. But through integrations such as the Shopify TikTok integration, brands can gain a shopping tab on their profile. 

TikTok Shopping is currently a pilot program that is available for select markets and platforms. TikTok is currently asking brands to reach out to their sales representatives for more information. 

For brands that can join TikTok’s Shopping Direct, you can integrate and promote your products through live streams, videos, and the shopping tab under the account profile. 


Another social platform that is becoming increasingly commerce friendly is Pinterest. Pinterest introduced Pinterest TV in late 2021, which will showcase live shopping series hosted by an amazing lineup of hosts ranging from comedians to Olympic athletes. Unfortunately, only select creators can use Pinterest TV as of now. 


Similar to Pinterest, YouTube has started testing live shopping features with select creators but has not made the feature widely available for all brands. While many brands and creators use YouTube to show unboxing videos, new collection announcements, and haul videos, the capability to tag shopping links is not there quite yet for all brands. 


Building a live shopping platform is a great option for brands that want full control and that also have the capability to take on this type of project. 

Nordstrom is a great example of a brand that entered live shopping with a custom-built platform. This brand is known for its in-person shopping experience and wanted to bring that same level of personalization and knowledge to its online customers. 

Nordstrom wrote in their Live Shopping announcement, “As we evolve the ways we connect with our customers, we are proud to introduce Livestream Shopping, blending the best of our in-person and digital capabilities. This new shopping channel will give customers real-time access to Nordstrom employees and brand partners, as well as experts in the beauty, fashion, and home categories. During these informative and entertaining shopping events, customers can seamlessly shop the products they see and ask questions of the experts hosting the events."

You can check out Nordstrom's custom live shopping page here

The Goal is to Delight and Engage Customers 

While live shopping is just picking up steam in the US, it is clear that this avenue is being explored by top platforms and brands as the next big trend. Live shopping solves a lot of the problems that eCommerce merchants face. It allows instant interactions, in-depth product explanations, seamless shopping, and a brand experience that currently can’t be offered in any other eCommerce format. 

Going forward, brands need to be focused on efforts that will delight and engage customers. Brands are achieving this through live shopping, loyalty programs, hyper-segmented marketing communications, and so on. Focusing on delighting will lead your brand to loyal customers that have a high customer lifetime value, and in turn, will gain you more revenue. 

Want to learn more about how to delight customers and increase lifetime value? Click here to learn how SMS can benefit your brand.

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