The Companies Trying to Make Live Shopping a Thing in the U.S.

On a warm spring night in New York City, dozens of people gathered on a rooftop in midtown Manhattan to drink fruity cocktails and chat. Shortly after happy hour started, a woman stepped away from the crowd to go to work.

Standing between a faux green background and an iPhone attached to a ring light, she raised her voice at the auctioneer, begging the audience to buy a second-hand sweater.

“Let’s make this $67,” Iva Lazovic said as she walked towards the camera with a smile. “This is super cute. It’s lululemon. It doesn’t get cheaper than this in the store. Let’s be real. Posh has steals and deals.”

Lazovic was one of several women who jumped at the phone to sell merchandise on Posh Shows, Poshmark’s new live-streaming platform. Posh Shows is the first major business strategy announced by South Korean heavyweight Naver since its acquisition last fall. .

Poshmark is one of many companies vying to enter the nascent live shopping market in the US, which is estimated to have $32 billion in sales this year, according to retail consultancy Coresight Research. By comparison, with an eye on China’s live shopping market, which is expected to bring in $647 billion this year, American companies have spent years pouring money into a medium where people buy and sell products in real time via video. Okay. But American consumers are still not used to shopping in the same way.

In 2016, e-commerce giant Alibaba launched Taobao Live to popularize live shopping in China. In the U.S., the livestream landscape is much more fragmented, but even as shoppers return to stores, retailers and large tech companies are optimistic that consumers will find and purchase items on their mobile phones. I’m betting on continuing. For platforms, live shopping promises more engagement and consumers can spend hours watching hosts sell items. .

Alongside Poshmark, QVC’s parent company Qurate recently launched Sune, a live shopping app aimed at Gen Z. Last year, Walmart, YouTube, and eBay added or expanded their live shopping capabilities. For Prime Day, Amazon enlisted celebrities such as Kevin Hart to promote its Amazon Live platform. Shein was an early adopter when he launched Shein Live for US shoppers in 2016. Shein’s U.S. president George Chiao said in a statement that it started with just a few hundred viewers per episode and has now reached “hundreds of thousands of viewers per episode.” rice field.

Poshmark CEO Manish Chandra said at the rooftop event: “In just a few months, they are proving that this form of live shopping works,” he added, referring to his Posh Shows sellers like Ms. Lazovic.

As tech giants and retailers strive to gain a foothold for live shopping, startups such as Whatnot and Ntwrk are touting close-knit customer communities as the blueprint for live shopping in the United States. Investors plowed more than $380 million into the US livestream e-commerce company last year, up from $36 million in 2020, according to PitchBook.

“We believe shopping is more than just a transaction. It’s the experience that counts,” said Liyia Wu, CEO and founder of live shopping startup ShopShops. Live shopping can simulate “her shopping experience offline online,” she added.

ShopShops will start focusing on American consumers instead of Chinese consumers in 2021, Wu said. The big players have yet to define live shopping in the U.S., so ShopShops and other new entrants can “build the holistic behavior,” she added.

For some viewers, live shopping has replaced shopping malls and morning cable shows. Scottsdale, Arizona Lifestyle Her blogger AJ Johnson watches her stream live at her ShopShops most days of the week, but her favorite shows stream Wednesdays at 6 a.m. increase.

The app is more than just a place to buy clothing and jewelry, she says. Johnson, 36, found entertainment and community at ShopShops by talking about her life with her hosts and other shoppers.

“Some people play video games, they just watch live shopping streams,” says Johnson. “It’s like an escape”

But live shopping faces stiff competition in the US, with linear TV, streaming channels and social media also vying for consumer attention and money. Last year, 78% of American adults said they had never attended a live shopping event, according to a survey. investigation From Morning Consult.

Some US companies have already pulled out of live shopping. Meta, which focused heavily on e-commerce in the early days of the pandemic, shut down Instagram’s Live Shopping feature in March and Facebook’s Live Shopping feature in October of this year.

Other companies have been far behind in entering live shopping. Since November, TikTok has been testing its live shopping tool, TikTok Shop, in the United States. I’m betting on seeing you share and buy items through the app.

However, the TikTok Shop’s rollout is lagging in the US. The feature has been available in parts of Southeast Asia for more than a year, and TikTok’s Chinese version, Douyin, has been offering live shopping since 2018.

In the US, TikTok faces heavy criticism from lawmakers and regulators. Over 20 states have banned the use of apps on government devices. And he said in April, the Montana legislature approved a bill to block her TikTok in the state.

TikTok declined to say when the TikTok Shop will be broadly available in the US.

Companies take different approaches to working with hosts. Poshmark allows anyone with an account to sell items from their closet. Other platforms work directly with merchants, like Amazon, which uses celebrities and influencers to sell various products such as printers and kitchenware.

For Bravo reality series Summer House podcaster and influencer Paige DeSorbo, hosting her own show on Amazon Live lets her followers see a “very different” side of her personality.

“People trust me about certain things, so they ask me for my opinion on whether it’s fashion or beauty.” increase.”

DeSorbo, 30, has been hosting the show weekly since the end of 2021, and usually shoots episodes with two cameramen, a set designer and a producer. She receives a flat hosting fee from her Amazon and receives a commission when she purchases items featured on her Amazon page or while she’s streaming.

In a recent livestream, DeSorbo recreated an outfit she shared on social media. While trying on outfits with “dupes,” a fashion term that refers to imitations of expensive items, she answered viewer questions about what she would wear to events such as comedy shows and summer vacations.

“It’s like talking to the wizard behind the curtain,” commented one of the 500+ viewers.

According to Deborah Weinswig, founder of Coresight Research, companies need to teach hosts how to sell successfully and speak directly to shoppers. This is a worthwhile investment, especially for hosts. In China, companies originally hired sellers to promote specific brands. These sellers then built their own audiences, attracting shoppers, and eventually enough distributors to choose their products and brands.

“The biggest misconception was that the industry is driven by celebrities,” Weinwig said. “That’s why I think we got sidetracked in the US because you were a celebrity or a creator. You don’t necessarily make a good host.”

Posh Shows doesn’t focus on celebrity hosts. Instead, anyone with a Poshmark account can join live. Alex Mahl works full time at a law firm and streams his live stream on his Posh Shows after work.

Mar, 26, spends about 40 hours a week on the side. Among them, she mostly prepares lululemon clothes for sale and uploads photos of them to her Poshmark app so viewers can see the merchandise throughout the show. is also included. She estimates that by the beginning of May she had sold over $50,000 of her inventory, and by the end of the year she could expect to make $200,000 in sales.

Marr has considered making this his main job, but remains cautious. She got early access to her Posh Shows and is monitoring viewership as more people go live. On a recent Monday night, Mr. Merr competed with dozens of other sellers. These included a mother with her baby strapped to her back selling a New York & Co. dress for $8, and a man selling a Louis Vuitton purse starting at $475. rice field.

“Are you worried about more people having access? Yes, it is,” said Marr. “But I’m confident in myself and what we’ve built to keep it going in the right direction.”

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