Livestreamed retail has exploded over the past year. The livestream market is expected to grow from $5 billion in 2020 to reach $11 billion by the end of 2021, and is projected to more than double over the next two years, hitting $25 billion by 2023, according to Coresight Research. In China, where livestreamed shopping is well established, the numbers are even higher: livestreaming is estimated to have driven about $125 billion in sales in 2020, up from $63 billion in 2019, Coresight found. By 2022, consulting firm Frost & Sullivan estimates that over $400 billion of products will be sold via livestream channels in China.

Now, new leaders in the space are emerging as startups and legacy brands alike rush to unlock the rapidly expanding channel.

Beekman 1802

Beekman 1802, which Glossy deemed a “livestream shopping behemoth,” is a case study for the potential of livestreamed retail. The beauty and lifestyle brand partnered with livestream platform Livescale in April 2021. Sales during their first Livsecale event, the 60-minute “Blooming Skin Show,” were 400% higher than what Beekman 1802’s ecommerce site experiences in a 24-hour sales period, according to Madison Schill, head of communications at Livescale.

The key, Beekman 1802 cofounder Brent Ridge explained, is in the storytelling. “We’re not saying the same story over and over again; we have a multi-layered story that can continue to captivate the customer. The longer you captivate them, the more likely they are to stick around and actually buy a product,” said Ridge. “Probably 80% of getting someone to make a purchase on livestream shopping or TV is about getting them to stop and listen.”

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The latest livestream platform launches are also leading with storytelling. Shopflix, launched on June 9, 2021, offers shoppable video content “where brands can tell their stories.” Matt Matros, Shopflix cofounder, explains that “Shopflix is content first, commerce second, which helps the brand-consumer relationship go deeper than the transaction by providing an engaging story.” Live shopping enterprise Orca, which was formally unveiled in June 2021, believes that “shopping can be entertainment.”

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Nordstrom. Photography by Connie Zhou

Not to be outdone, established retailers are getting in on the action. In March, Nordstrom launched its own platform for livestreamed shopping, dubbed the “Livestream Shopping” channel. The medium offers a new “opportunity for us to get closer to the customer,” Fanya Chandler, a senior vice president at Nordstrom, told CNBC. “I’ve been watching what’s happening in China for a while now, and it’s exciting that you can get this connection with the consumer immediately.”

In April 2021, both Aldo and Petco hosted their first-ever livestreamed shopping events. Bloomingdales has hosted over 50 shoppable livestreamed events over the past year, ranging from make-up tutorials, to styling sessions, to cooking lessons, to fitness classes. And Walmart held two livestream shopping events on TikTok in December 2020 and March 2021.

As the developing retail channel matures, it is set to transform the retail experience—combining the convenience of ecommerce, the entertainment value of content and the hands-on learning of in-store browsing. Expect to see new entrants and investors flooding the space as brands battle it out to master the channel.

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