More and more people are buying products via live streams on social media or other platforms and marketplaces. Is this the future of retail? Darius Zumstein researches this area at the ZHAW and knows the most important things about the virtual phenomenon of live shopping.
Lecturer and head of the E-Commerce Lab at the ZHAW
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Darius Zumstein is a lecturer and senior researcher in the area of digital business, marketing and analytics at the Institute for Marketing Management (IMM) at the Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW).
SRF News: Is live shopping the new teleshopping?
Darius Zumstein: There are definitely similarities: products are presented and sold, usually by a convincing presenter or an eloquent sales personality. Live streams and teleshopping shows should both be entertaining too. They are primarily aimed at impulse buying. In both cases, a special offer of exclusive products is advertised.
Legend: Live shopping is a very popular way to advertise and buy products, especially in Asia. Keystone/Wu Hong
Since when has the phenomenon of live shopping existed?
Shopping via livestream is a trend in China and became particularly popular during the Corona crisis. For example, farmers sold their rice, fruits and vegetables via livestreams on WeChat when shops and markets were closed due to the lockdowns. The first platform to sell products on a larger scale via livestream was the Chinese platform Taobao. However, this trend has not yet arrived in Switzerland and Europe. Nevertheless, there are increasing numbers of live streams on some platforms.
Which products are mainly sold via livestream?
Mainly products from the health and beauty, clothing and accessories, baby and toddler items and electronics categories. The products tend to come from the medium to affordable price segment. Expensive and complex products are less likely to be presented via live stream. Nevertheless, the live streams are intended to be entertaining and exclusive. There should always be a special price.
What types of live shopping are there?
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Live streams can be accessed via the social media are consumed, such as Tiktok, YouTube or Snapchat. Offer a second option Livestream platforms. These are a type of online warehouse where many live streams run in parallel on one website. These platforms are particularly popular in the USA and China. Offer a third option digital marketplaces such as Amazon Live, where live streams from certain brands can be integrated. The fourth and most important option is called Owned Media. This is content that is produced by a company itself and incorporated into the website or online shop. The best-known example of this in Switzerland is the Coop subsidiary Christ, which publishes a live stream every month.
What is particularly special about the phenomenon of live shopping?
Many brands rely on live streams to make customers more aware of their products. Customer relationships can also be strengthened because the audience can interact with the salespeople directly in the chat. The audience can also interact with each other and enter into a dialogue in the comment function. In this way, a kind of community forms around a product.
Will live shopping change the Swiss market in the future?
The “dying of shops” continues. This can be proven empirically. In the future, many more brands will sell their products via livestream. In 20 years, the online market will probably become the standard, and expensive and complex products will then also be advertised online.
There are already AI-generated chatbots for online advice. Avatars could also be used increasingly, as in Asia.
The traditional market will also adapt and become more integrated with new, more niche brands. What will certainly come more in Switzerland, and is already being used today, are sales conversations that are conducted using AI. There are already AI-generated chatbots for online advice. Avatars could also be increasingly used, as is currently the case in Asia. However, this is still a very new field and has not yet been researched or applied in practice in Switzerland.
Will avatars ever replace human customer conversations?
No, I do not think so. But avatars can be used as a supplement. In addition, companies can save personnel costs. However, in complex cases, people will still prefer human conversation in the store.
The interview was conducted by Lea Stadelmann.