The future of online shopping is here.
Cue, live shopping – a phenomenon that's taken the eCommerce world by storm.
For the uninitiated, live shopping is best described as social media joining forces with the home shopping network. Apparently, live shopping arose in 2016 for the first time with popular Chinese influencers using an app called TaoBao to demonstrate and sell their products. Fast forward to today, and it's now a $60 billion industry, and unsurprisingly, retailers in the west are lining up to buy into this trend.
To get a feel of just how much live shopping is taking off, take Alibaba, for example. Their presale live stream event last year generated $7.5 billion in just 30 minutes!
That’s why in this article, we’re looking at how to use Instagram live shopping to increase conversions, improve your brand's appeal, and differentiate yourself from the crowd. Trust us; there’s never been a better time to get on board with this exciting trend.
Ready? Let’s dive in!
What’s Instagram Live Shopping, and Why Do You Need It?
Instagram live shopping rolled out in August 2020, enabling Instagram users with a business account to sell products during live broadcasts.
To hit the ground running with Instagram live shopping, you’ll have to use Instagram’s shopping function. These are relatively new features (it was only introduced in early 2020). This enables users to create online storefronts where you can upload your product catalog from the convenience of your Instagram profile.
Once your Instagram shop is up and running, you can tag the products you wish to promote in your live broadcast to form a collection. Viewers can then make in-video purchases and enjoy seamless live shopping experiences. Of course, you can also tag products in your collection in posts, Instagram stories, mentions, and reels. However, for this article, we’re just focusing on the live shopping aspect.
However, at the time of writing, to use Instagram’s live shopping feature, you must be a US-based brand with access to ‘Instagram Checkout.’ You can check whether your Instagram account’s ‘Checkout enabled’ from your shop’s commerce settings. Under the customer checkout options, there should be an option for customers to directly complete their purchases on Instagram (rather than leaving the app). If you have access to Instagram’s checkout and you’ve enabled it, you can start using Instagram’s live shopping features.
What Are The Benefits of Instagram Live Shopping?
At this point, you may be wondering what advantages live video shopping has over Instagram’s regular shopping capabilities. So, let’s get into why live shopping is the way forward…
One of live shopping’s significant benefits is that it really lends itself to building a sense of community with your viewers. You’re creating a fun, interactive, online shopping experience rather than just the opportunity to make a traditional one-off purchase. Needless to say, this adds tons of value to the user experience, namely because it eliminates some of the typical problems associated with online shopping.
For instance, customer questions can be answered straight away, which goes a long way to ensuring customers feel valued. Not to mention, they’re part of a group experience. The shared interest in your product(s) works wonders for encouraging customers to feel a sense of connection with your other buyers. This is why live shopping works so well for strengthening your brand – because not only are you selling a product, but you’re also propositioning a lifestyle and the opportunity to be part of an online community.
On top of that, hosting a live stream brings a face to your business that people can trust. There are different ways to leverage this aspect. For instance, this could be you, your team, someone you’ve paid to host your lives, or an influencer you’re collaborating with – which moves us nicely onto our next point…
Collaboration and Influencer Marketing
Live streams are fantastic if you’re looking to collaborate with other businesses and Instagram creators. Namely, because companies with checkout-enabled Instagram shops can permit other brands and influencers to tag their products in their Instagram content and vice versa. So, for instance, if an influencer does a live stream and promotes your product, this enables them to link to your product.
It goes without saying, this is really effective for lead generation. But, for maximum results, just be sure to partner with influencers who are relatable to your customer base. Again, it’s wise to take your time— just make sure the partnership is mutually beneficial to all parties involved.
With an Instagram trend report noting that 44% of Instagram users shop weekly, Instagram live streams are excellent for reaching customers who might be interested in buying your product(s). Especially when you consider that 70% of shoppers turn to Instagram for product discovery, and 87% say influencers have inspired them to make a purchase.
After all, with Instagram live, you can demonstrate how to use your products, provide reviews or recommendations, and answer questions in real-time – all of which are terrific ways to interact and build a relationship with and engage with your audience.
It’s also important to note that when compared to other live shopping platforms like TikTok, users reportedly prefer shopping on Instagram because of its convenience. When it came to shopping capabilities, users rated Instagram 5.3 out of 10 compared to 4.1 out of ten for TikTok. This may be because Instagram has a separate shop feed for curated, personalized, and shoppable content. As opposed to TikTok that just integrates its eCommerce features into its regular content.
With everything we’ve just said in the forefront of your mind, you might be wondering who these live shopping fanatics are and why you need to get them on board?
In answer to this question, research suggests that almost half of Gen Z and millennials have bought an item they've seen on a social media app or during a live stream. The research also reveals that Gen Z’s, in particular, liked to save items first and then research the brand and product before making a purchase. Since Gen z’s represent 40% of today’s worldwide consumer market, this is definitely a demographic worth appealing to.
This is where live shopping comes into play.
If your customers are in the ‘research’ phase of their buyer journey, an Instagram live is the perfect place to:
- Announce new product promotions
- Discuss product availability
- Talk about the product in-depth
…And so on.
By providing all this info in a live, you negate the need for prospective consumers to do their own research (or as much of it). Instead, customers are the first to know what’s happening with your brand, which works wonders for building a sense of trust and excitement surrounding your products/services.
How Set Up Instagram Live Shopping
The first step to setting up an Instagram live shopping event is deciding which products to showcase. As previously mentioned, you should already have a catalog of products listed on your Instagram shop. Once you have that up and running, you can tag the products you wish to appear in your live.
You can create collections of up to 30 products within your catalog. At this point, it would be wise to organize your collections to make them more accessible when you go live. You can do this by going into your Commerce Manager settings. Here, you’ll find a collections tab where you can add a collection description and add the products you want to feature. You can also group collection items by shared themes, so you know precisely which collections you’ve planned to use for different live streams.
Setting up an Instagram live shopping event is similar to regular live streaming. Here's a quick step by step guide:
- Click the camera icon at the top left corner of your screen
- Swipe to ‘Live’ at the bottom of the screen
- Tap ‘Shopping’
- Pick the products you want to feature
- Click the ‘Broadcast’ button to go live
You can pin one item at a time while you’re live to feature that product. Then, as your followers watch, they can tap on your featured products and choose to be taken to a product page (where they can find out more about the product) or a checkout page.
Further reading 📚
Tips for Hosting Your First Instagram Live Shop
Now that you know the hows and whys of Instagram live streaming, it’s time to discuss some of the tips and tricks of the trade. Needling to say, when you go ‘live,’ there’s no editing or double-takes. As such, it might be helpful to have some product notes handy. But, don’t stray from going ‘off the cuff.’ Instead, consider this as an opportunity to demonstrate your authenticity, answer questions, and engage with your customers. Show them you’re listening!
That said, let’s dive a bit deeper into our top tips and tricks for hosting your first Instagram live shop:
Capitalize on Trends and Impulse Buys
Live streams enable you to tap into a zeitgeist of popular trends. To make the most of this, you could:
- Host unscheduled live streams – this is great for injecting a sense of excitement into your brand.
- Respond to new trends quickly – Once you’ve identified an upcoming trend, think about your product(s), apply, and shoot a live. By being one of the first to respond, you’ll help to build a sense of authority surrounding your brand.
- Respond creatively – Take advantage of popular songs, filters, hypes, etc., by using them as props for your live streams. Just focus on creating fun videos that incorporate something of the new trend into your established content style. By being entertaining and spontaneous, people will be tenterhooks to see what you do next.
Another way to leverage spontaneity is to inspire impulse buys. In fact, according to one study, consumers who participated in live streaming commerce were easily persuaded into impulsive buying when they enjoyed their shopping experience. That said, here are a few pointers on how you could encourage impulse buys:
- Throw a sudden discount or promotion on the fly.
- Give your live streams a sense of exclusivity. If special deals occur only during live streams, people are more likely to purchase right away.
- Not only that, but prospective customers will also see other people making purchases, which adds to your credibility. Plus, no one likes to feel out!
Host a Q and A
Hosting a Q and A session on your live shopping feed is an excellent way to address any customer concerns. When done well, this should go a long way to eliminate any hesitations consumers have over buying your product(s). You can even tag your live stream as ‘AMA’ or ‘ask me anything’ to encourage people to engage with you.
That said, here are a few tips to help you nail your first Q and A live stream:
- Make a list of potential questions and have answers at the ready: Have customers asked questions about your product(s) before? Are there any re-occurring queries? If so, swot up on these and have answers to go on the fly.
- Have a set of backup questions: This is especially worth doing if you have a smaller following or you’re unsure how popular your event will be—in short, having a list of backup questions to answer works wonders for avoiding any awkward silences.
- Promote your Q and A session: While spontaneous live shopping streams have their place, it’s good to let customers know in advance about your Q and A sessions. Not only does this increase the likelihood of a higher turnout, but it also gives attendees a chance to prepare questions.
- Have fun: Q and A’s don’t have to be dry. Remember, the atmosphere you create in your lives goes a long way to communicate your brand identity. For example, Benefit cosmetics does a weekly live stream. Here a guest and a usual host provide beauty advice and answer questions from viewers in real-time. The “talk show” vibe makes it fun, showcases Benefit’s brand personality and offers valuable content. As a result, one of their live-stream Q and A’s brought in a whopping 190.4K attendees.
After your product launch, it’s time to show your audience what it can do. Tutorials are a fantastic way to help customers understand what you’re selling and inspire them to make a purchase.
In short, tutorials and how-to lives are excellent ways to establish yourself as an expert in your field. You want to show customers you’re someone who knows what products they should buy and how to use those products to the fullest.
For example, Dunkin Donuts used a live broadcast to do a “test kitchen” to demonstrate how they created their new products. The stream has since garnered 39K views, 1.4K comments, and 518 shares.
Are You Ready to Host an Instagram Live Shopping Event?
Let’s finish off with some key takeaways:
Live shopping has been heralded as the future of eCommerce, and with good reason. It’s predicted to soon become a $242 billion market and likely to reach half a trillion dollars by 2023. As a result, more and more online retailers are turning their attention to more interactive ways to connect with their customers, like Instagram’s live shopping functionality.
Live shopping on Instagram makes it easy to reach a whole new customer base. Not only that, but it's an excellent opportunity to form an online community with your brand at its core, which ultimately should drive sales.
Leveraging live shopping is about finding the right balance between content-driven and product-driven streams. The best-case scenario is that your live-shop content fits organically with the rest of your content. But, as—in you remember, you’re not just asking customers to buy into a product – but also, you, as a brand and the shopping experience you’re offering.
So there you have it, everything you need to start live shopping on Instagram – just in time for you to make the most of the holiday season. Tell us how you get on in the comments below!