Down to Business: Livestream shopping arrives in the U.S.

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In a different decade, celebrity chef, talk show host and Glens Falls native Rachael Ray might have appeared on a home-shopping TV channel to promote her various product lines.
Last month, she was cooking and philosophizing online while hawking a new cookbook/memoir from her Warren County home in the latest iteration of the phenomenon, livestream shopping.
Think Twitter meets QVC as consumers use the internet to access live chats with celebrities and social media “influencers” while shopping and sharing the experience with others via questions, comments and emojis.
Retailers such as Walmart have jumped into the fray, along with mainstream social media companies and new specialized platforms with names like NTWRK, buywith and TalkShopLive.
Consultant McKinsey traces this “new chapter in sales” to its debut in China in 2016. Now, livestreaming is a major sales vehicle in that country, with two-thirds of consumers surveyed in 2020 saying they had used it in the past year to buy products.
Apparel is a big category for sales, but also featured are beauty items, fresh food, consumer electronics, home furnishings and even autos, according to McKinsey.
Based on the format’s rapid growth in China, McKinsey predicts that livestreaming could account for 10 percent to 20 percent of all e-commerce sales by 2026.
North America is still behind the curve, though, says a study released last week by Intel and IHL Group at the National Retail Federation’s annual trade show in New York City.
For years, innovations in shopping occurred in the U.S. and Europe and then spread to the rest of the world. “That is no longer happening when it comes to leading edge [technology],” Greg Buzek, president of IHL, a consultant to the retail and hospitality industries, noted in a webinar on the report, which gauged how the pandemic affected consumer behavior in 21 of the largest retail economies worldwide.
Roughly half of Asian and Latin American survey participants said they had shopped livestream, and close to 80% said they plan to do it again, Buzek noted. Those consumers also were more likely than counterparts in North America to have used augmented-reality shopping and virtual malls.
Back in Warren County, Rachael Ray cooked in her rebuilt kitchen (a chimney fire severely damaged the home in Lake Luzerne in 2020) and talked about adjusting to life during the pandemic as sidekick Andrew “Kappy” Kaplan cut in periodically to remind watchers that they should hit the “buy” button on the screen to get an autographed copy of her new cookbook/memoir before it sold out. Various Rachael Ray-branded pots, pans, mixing bowls and pet treats also were for sale.
“Yes, you can literally shop along in real time as you watch this,” he said on the broadcast, carried by Walmart Live and TalkShopLive, as viewers populated the onscreen “chat” box with adorations of Ray.

Categories: Business

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