When it comes to offering live video shopping, retailers can choose from a wide range of live shopping apps.
The first step to choosing a live shopping app is understanding what type of live shopping experience you want to offer. We’ve broken down some of the best live shopping platforms below, including the categories they belong to, to help streamline your decision.
What is a live video shopping app?
Live video shopping allows customers to connect with a real human in a video experience, with the intent of browsing or buying products from a particular brand. There are two primary ways live commerce works. The first is through one-to-one live video shopping. These experiences are typically hosted on a retailer's ecommerce site, and can often be accessed on demand, during specific hours. The primary use cases of one-to-one live video shopping relate to getting specific advice or guidance on an individual basis; somewhere between a personal shopper and an expert customer support agent. Dive into even more live shopping use cases over here.
In contrast, a one-to-many live video shopping app - similar to a QVC experience online - isn't personalized at all. A brand will livestream a shopping event either on their own site, through social channels, or through a dedicated livestream shopping platform. The livestream event will feature a host (or hosts) who will spotlight a merchant's products. Customers may be able to interact with each other, or they might even be able to ask questions during the live stream. The typical uses cases of a one-to-many live video shopping event are to launch a new product or collection, do product demonstrations, run a promotion, or host a private / exclusive event for select customers.
Live video shopping apps run the gamut depending on what kinds of experiences a brand wants to create for live video shopping. And one-size-fits all is hardly the name of the game when it comes to live video shopping platforms. It may a lot of sense for a merchant to invest in both a one-to-one and one-to-many solution; each live shopping platform has its own benefits and uses.
Why should you offer live shopping?
Live shopping is already a massive industry in Asia, and is growing like crazy in Europe. CX-obsessed merchants are recognizing that for all the benefits of automation, sometimes a human touch is what's necessary to convert a hesitant shopper into a happy customer.
The top reasons to offer live shopping include:
Boost conversion rates: Give customers all the information and guidance they need to feel confident enough to hit checkout
Increase AOV: Grow basket sizes by offering personalized 1:1 service and suggesting complementary items based on a customer's unique profile
Lower return rates: Provide customers the chance to assess their needs more thoroughly before buying, improving return rates
Experience the theater of the store: Give shoppers the chance to visit a store they might never have the opportunity to visit in person
Enter the customer's home: Get a real look at what a customer is dealing with - their space, wardrobe, or some other consideration - to find the right product
Streamline customer support: Sometimes a shopper just has a very specific question that can be answered in seconds through video- rather than waiting for the back and forth tedium of typical chat or email channels
One-to-one live shopping apps
Get closer to customers by offering live one-to-one video shopping on your ecommerce site. With this type of live shopping app, customers can connect directly with a live shopping associate to get support and guidance while they're online shopping.
Hero is a chatbot tool that allows shoppers to connect to a live shopping associate for video support. Within a video call, a shopping associate can send product links via chat. In addition, brands can offer pre-recorded video of specific products. Checking out and adding products to cart is not part of the Klarna / Hero live shopping experience.
In 2021, Klarna acquired Hero, and now offers this one-to-one virtual shopping experience as part of their platform for businesses. Meaning, you can no longer acquire Hero’s video shopping service independently; you must be a Klarna customer to use this function.
Klarna is best suited for:
Existing Klarna customers
Brands looking to offer video support on top of their existing chat function
Finland-based giosg is all about creating as many touchpoints for interactivity on a website as possible, through chatbots, live chat, and video chat functionality. With video chat, customers can get their questions answered without needing to type back and forth with a support agent.
It’s worth noting that giosg is more of a multi-functioning chat tool, as opposed to specifically designed for live shopping. Their product is specifically geared toward sectors like car dealerships and realtors, where purchases have a high level of consideration, but may not actually be bought within a call.
giosg is best suited for:
Brands looking to offer video chat support as well as other more traditional channels
Service-based industries like automotive or real estate
Like giosg, Tulip’s live video commerce function largely focuses on providing chat interactivity, as opposed to co-shopping. As an omni-channel retail services provider, the primary function of Tulip's live shopping is for brands with a strong clienteling element. Personal shoppers can curate items for specific customers, book appointments, and conduct outreach, as opposed to being more of a universal service that any shopper can access.
Customers that use Tulip’s LiveConnect tool are typically customers of Tulip’s other services, such as their checkout or fulfillment solutions. Like with Klarna, isolating the video shopping tool of Tulip isn’t really an option.
Tulip is best suited for:
Existing Tulip customers
If personal shoppers are a major aspect of your business, then Salesfloor might be the ideal solution. The platform is specifically designed for sales associates to manage their client book by creating personalized storefronts, interacting via chat, emails, and video calls, and booking appointments.
While Salesfloor can be adapted to appear on every page of a retailer’s website and accessed by anyone, the primary aim is for associates to use these interactions to further build one-to-one personal relationships with customers. This tool works especially well for brands with commission-based salespeople that are looking to manage their client base more efficiently.
Salesfloor is best suited for:
The promise of a platform like Whisbi is really routed in a more classic sales experience. Positioning itself as an advanced alternative to a typical chatbot or form, Whisbi is a live selling platform that includes live streaming and interactive video and text chat functionality.
While Whisbi’s feature set can be leveraged by retailers, it’s just one segment the company focuses on. Many of their success stories are in telecom, automotive, banking and insurance, and electronics, where customers require more hands on customer support than traditional channels may allow for.
Whisbi is best suited for:
A range of industries beyond retail, including telecom, automotive, and banking
Businesses looking to provide both live video support and live streaming
Considering it has an integration with ZenDesk, LiveChat, Intercom, and Kustomer, SnapCall is really all about elevating the customer service experience in a more hands on way - think of it like a video chat with some social sharing features. During a SnapCall session, associates can send snapshots of products during a call or demonstrate a product over video. They can also stream YouTube videos to provide other examples of a product in use. Customer service associates can also send over products for a customer to consider buying.
There's also the option to create multiparty calls, with up to four participants on a single session, or a one-to-many experience that's still in early development. Given SnapCall's affiliation with customer support, a multiparty call could be a powerful way to get multiple B2B buyers onto a single call where the decision may not be in a single customer's hands.
SnapCall is best suited for:
Retailers looking to up their customer support game
Brands where multiple buyers may need to weigh in on a purchase
Talkative doesn't call itself a live shopping app, per se. Instead, it identifies as a 'Consultive Service Platform'. Or to put it another way, an all-in-one customer service solution, no matter how your customers are looking for support. This means everything from a hyper-impersonal AI-powered chatbot, through to video chat, live chat, and the ability to co-browse or screenshare.
However, each of these functions doesn't necessarily add up to a coherent co-shopping experience. You can offer video chat, but it requires a separate step initiated from a video call or live chat - and there's no instant sharing of product pages, add to bag functionality, or in-experience checkout.
Talkative is best suited for:
Brands looking to add multi-channel support options to their site
Companies where making a purchase during a call is less of a focus (ex: real estate or cars)
One-to-many live shopping apps
A one-to-many live shopping event is sort of like taking the classic QVC or Home Shopping Network experience and bringing it online. Brands choose a live shopping host (or hosts) who lead a presentation. Attendees can join 1:many live shopping events at random and may be able to communicate with each other, but likely can’t connect directly with the host, unless they’re answering questions at some point.
One of the biggest concerns for live one-to-many shopping events is having the firepower behind your live streaming shopping experience. Livery heavily promotes its potential for scalability, including syncing up with ecommerce inventory and functions for live shopping showcases.
A fun feature of Livery is the fact you can incorporate other interactive elements in your live streaming event, such as polls, quizzes, and more. It's definitely worth noting that Livery isn't specifically a live shopping platform. Instead, it touts itself as a livestream platform that has ecommerce capabilities as a specific module, much like their quiz or chat modules.
Livery is best suited for:
Brands with multi-faceted livestreaming needs beyond ecommerce
Livestream-focused brands looking to produce entertainment and interactive experiences
Headquartered in Europe, Bambuser is a live video shopping platform that primarily offers one-to-many live shopping experiences, but can also support one-to-one live commerce. With Bambuser’s one-to-many product, shoppers can add to cart during a livestream shopping event, which can either be live, prerecorded, or edited together. Bambuser livestreams can also be cross-posted to social channels for further reach.
One catch with Bambuser is their pricing is largely tied to the number of associates or seats required. Brands with large shopping associate numbers may find the cost adds up quickly.
Bambuser is best suited for:
Brands looking to level up their self-hosted live stream shopping experience
Like Bambuser, Go Instore is another hybrid one-to-one and one-to-many live shopping solution headquartered in Europe. They pride themselves on being a video-first solution as opposed to a chat function with video added. Go Instore lets customers add products to the cart themselves, as opposed to functioning as a co-shopping one-to-one platform that goes all the way through checkout.
Go Instore’s ShopStream one-to-many solution has a high customer satisfaction rating and, like Bambuser, allows you to cross-stream live shopping parties to other channels for maximum exposure.
Go Instore is best suited for:
Brands looking to solve for both one-to-many and one-to-one video call experiences
With Firework, merchants have the ability to bring what they love about live social shopping apps to their own websites. Brands can create native live streaming and live commerce shopping experiences that allow customers to shop what they see on screen while interacting with each other. Firework has also rounded out their video commerce suite with shoppable video and one-on-one video.
One interesting feature that Firework offers is Firework Studio. This Canva-like gallery of customizable video templates, drag-and-drop editing tools, and licensed media elements and soundtracks is an easy way for brands of any size to start creating shoppable videos of their own.
Firework is best suited for:
Companies looking to add on-demand shoppable video experiences on top of live streaming
Livescale is on a mission to provide an authentic and connective digital experience through shoppable live video experiences. This mobile-first solution integrates directly with a retailer’s website, while allowing viewers to purchase items from right within a livestream.
As with any one-to-many live stream shopping solution, Livescale does require you to BYOA - bring your own audience. Many brands use Livestream’s technology as a way to host special real time live shopping shows natively, as opposed to relying on third-party platforms or social media sites.
Livescale is best suited for:
Brands looking to host their own QVC-style live stream shopping series on a regular basis
Brands looking to host live shopping parties will definitely want to look into Streams.live. This interactive platform requires a bit of upfront setup before events, including choosing which products will appear during the live stream shopping event. The live commerce session is then hosted on a specific Streams.live event page, or can be embedded in an ecommerce experience. The tool can be used for live selling or prerecorded video.
One thing Streams.live touts itself as being a great fit for is selling NFTs (non-fungible tokens) live, building trust with customers and allowing brands to easily mint and sell NFTs on the spot.
Streams.live is best suited for:
Regular livestreaming retailers looking to host their own shows
This unique app brings on hosts to do ad hoc live shopping shows in various retailers. The live shopping hosts are the key draw for this platform; retailers have much less control over the experience. In short, ShopShops hosts build up a following and take shoppers with them as they visit stores, answering questions and interacting with viewers.
ShopShops can also be used by individual makers to tout their own products. The app bills itself as a great solution for shoppers to browse their favorite brands while learning about new ones.
ShopShops is best suited for:
Brands on Shopify, WooCommerce, and Magento looking to enable livestream commerce on their site might want to check out Channelize.io. This livestream shopping platform lets you integrate live shopping into an existing site, or launch as a standalone video shopping app and website.
One benefit of Channelize.io is it comes with a mobile app to enable show hosts to lead a livestream shopping event from anywhere. Retail associates, influencers, or hired hosts can all host a livestream shopping party without needing to be in the retailer’s physical space. The platform also includes live chat tools to give hosts the ability to do some 1:1 interactions with viewers during their shows.
Channelize.io is best suited for:
Brands looking for a fully-featured, interactive live streaming solution
Selling across multiple channels from a single platform is the idea behind live streaming video shopping platform CommentSold. You can set up shoppable livestreams that exist across your website, app, Facebook pages, and groups, making it easy to limit who is given access to what events. For example, a brand could create an exclusive group on Facebook and only those that are members will be able to attend as viewers of a livestream with steep discounts and sales.
CommentSold allows shoppers to watch, browse, and buy within a video livestream to minimize cart abandonment and capitalize on the excitement a customer feels while watching a live show. The company heavily touts their integration with Facebook, making this a viable, controlled alternative to Facebook Live.
CommentSold is best suited for:
Brands with large Facebook followings
Those looking to cross-stream their live shopping events
If Amazon is a sales channel for your business, the good news is the ecommerce giant has already got a one-to-many live shopping platform built in. Amazon sellers can build up a following and host live events to show off products and interact with customers that have tuned in.
While brands can host their own shows on Amazon Live, there’s also the option to tap into Amazon’s own host network, or to use Amazon influencers through the Amazon Live Creator app. These staffing solutions make Amazon Live a great fit for product-focused brands that don’t have a dedicated consumer-facing team.
Amazon Live is best suited for:
Product brands with Amazon as a primary selling channel
Social live shopping apps
The final category of live shopping apps we’re covering involves using live streaming shopping features built into popular social media platforms such as Instagram Live, Facebook Live, Amazon Live, and YouTube TV. Social commerce experiences have helped bring live shopping to the mainstream, as a gateway to more advanced and personalized brand-owned live shopping experiences.
It's worth noting that while platforms like YouTube are video first, the social media platform doesn't have live streaming shopping. Some early features in the realm of live video shopping have been tested by YouTube Creators, such as tagging products in a video, but there is no live streaming service.
Finally, a major update as of early 2023: Meta has basically checked out of offering live shopping. First, they shut down Facebook Live in October 2022, before de-prioritizing and altogether rolling back Instagram Live in Spring 2023. We've updated our writeups below to give you an idea of how these platforms worked previously, and other options for creating shoppable content on Instagram and Facebook Live.
Facebook Live Shopping
The original idea behind Facebook Live Shopping was to give marketplace sellers another channel to sell their wares - making it particularly valuable for say, Facebook Shops owners, crafters, or reps at a multi-level marketing company to host live shows. But realistically, any brand with Facebook Shops enabled on their site could lead a Facebook Live stream shopping event, and broadcast it anywhere they like, including on their own website. Facebook itself bet big on live streaming, having coined Live Shopping Fridays as a standing event to bring beauty and fashion brands into the platform.
However, in October 2022, Meta (Facebook's parent company) shut down Facebook Live Shopping functionality, choosing to focus their live shopping efforts on Instagram. Technically speaking, brands can still host a live shopping event on Facebook, but the ability to purchase a product within the livestream is gone. Instead, Facebook Live events are reserved for things like product drops, previews, walkthroughs, Q&A sessions, and so on.
This shift signals two things. First, there is always going to be a risk to rely on a third-party streaming service, even if it's free the way Facebook Live Shopping was. If it goes, so does your strategy. Second, a white label strategy might be the smarter alternative: Something you control and own. Many of the solutions on this list have integrations - so you can still leverage Facebook followers by cross-streaming a livestream to Facebook.
When the news of the Facebook Live rollback happened, attention naturally shifted to Instagram. And for awhile, it seemed like Instagram Live was going to stick around. But all of that changed in Spring 2023. Keep reading to learn more.
Facebook Live is best suited for:
Brands with large Facebook followings
Non-checkout / shopping livestream events
Instagram Live Shopping
Let's get the facts out of the way: Instagram Live Shopping went the way of Facebook Live Shopping. In January 2023, the writing was pretty much on the wall when Instagram announced they were removing the Shop tab from their app. Within six weeks, it was announced Instagram Live Shopping was going to be sunset as well, as of March 2023.
What happened? Well first, let's talk about what Instagram Live Shopping was all about.
Unsurprisingly, Instagram Live Shopping behaved in much the same way Facebook Live Shopping did, which makes sense as both brands are operated under the same parent company, Meta. Much like Facebook Live, any in-livestream purchases were subject to a commission fee.
The main advantage of Instagram Live shopping was to capitalize on the captive audience a brand already had on Instagram, or the audience of an influencer they’re teaming up with. Instagram notified followers when a brand went live, generating instant eyeballs on content. But like with any one-to-many live video shopping solution, timing was everything. Brands were on the hook to generate awareness for their livestreams with potential customers to ensure maximum engagement for any event.
Ultimately, Instagram Live Shopping just never caught fire in a way that generated enough revenue for Meta to double down its efforts and encourage adoption. Much like with Facebook, brands can still host Instagram Live events, but without the shopping / commerce features that were included in Instagram Live Shopping.
Here's the good news. Brands can still leverage Facebook or Instagram for livestream events. First, there's the option to host a non-commerce event, where the focus is on introducing a collection or product, and not on actually driving real-time sales. The risk of this option of course, is the major conversion gap that exists, but as a form of infotainment, it's still possible to host livestreams on Facebook and Instagram.
Perhaps more relevantly though, many livestream shopping tools can actually cross-stream to Facebook and Instagram, with built-in commerce features that basically supplant the need to use the native Facebook Live Shopping or Instagram Live Shopping functionality. You own the data and insights as well with these third-party platforms. The trade-off? The cost of course.
Instagram Live is best suited for:
Brands with large Instagram followings
Brands with heavy Instagram creator partnerships
Non-commerce / checkout livestreams
Technically NTWRK could be seen as a one-to-many live shopping solution, but it and other solutions are branding themselves as live shopping platforms that are consumer-driven, much like any other social media channel. Shoppers will actively visit NTWRK to check out the latest product drops, livestreams, and festivals, with plenty of social interactivity and the ability to shop during a livestream.
NTWRK’s niche specialty has quickly become appealing to ‘fandom’, often by spotlighting brands and artists with major cult followings or highly covetable collectibles - think: sneakers, trading cards, and toys. NTWRK isn’t trafficked too much by typical retail brands for this reason; instead, it positions itself as a, well, network of creators.
NTWRK is best suited for:
Cult status brands
Much like NTWRK, Popshop Live is a social live streaming shopping platform where the hosts are the main attraction for customers to interact with. Independent sellers apply to host shows on the platform, making it a popular choice for influencers that already have a strong fanbase elsewhere.
Because Popshop Live includes a self-contained commerce ecosystem - orders are managed from within the platform, shipping is a one-time flat rate - many large retailers have chosen not to start a Popshop Live store. However, there is the option to earmark inventory specifically for a Popshop Live sale, and have an influencer partner host a show on the platform.
In August 2023, Popshop Live was purchased by CommentSold, another live shopping technology. Keep an eye out for how this might change Popshop's future - but for now, you can still sign up to sell on the platform.
Popshop Live is best suited for:
Indie and up and coming brands
Whatnot positions itself as a 'community marketplace' that enables anyone interested in selling live to get started, fast. Live shopping hosts snap photos of what they have for sale, set prices as either static or a minimum bid, offer time limits (for auctions), and host their livestreams at will, with live chat, video, and in-stream purchasing. While shoppers can follow their favorite hosts, Whatnot notes that one of the requirements for getting an account is to have a 'good' social following to start. Comparing Whatnot to NTWRK or Popshop Live, you could say that Whatnot has a pretty far-ranging collection of products available, from vintage finds to collectibles to NFTs, making it a solid place for livestreamers of any type to get started.
Whatnot is best suited for:
Independent sellers with a solid social following
Do I have to go live with a live video shopping app?
At first glance, the answer seems to be in the question itself. The "live" is implied in live video shopping, with two caveats.
First, many brands will choose to pre-record a livestream shopping event, and then stream it during a 'live' session. The benefit to this is the merchant can control the experience and ensure they don't run into any technical glitches along the way. A prerecorded event can still feel live, especially if the brand is on hand to answer questions in the chat. But keep in mind, a truly interactive event does happen in real time - warts and all. Your viewers will feel thrilled to hear their name on screen during a livestream, compared to a more static experience where they can only connect via chat. Still, if going live gives you a panic attack, there is another option.
Second, video shopping encompasses live shopping experiences - and not-so-live experiences. This includes shoppable or interactive video, which uses your existing promotional or social content and embeds a product link directly on the video. The benefit to merchants being, no worrying about hiring or scheduling personnel - if you're already creating content you can easily make it shoppable...for free! Get Ghost's free interactive video app here.
How to choose a live video shopping app
The right video shopping solution for your business will ultimately come down to a few things:
How important is it for you to control the live shopping experience? (i.e. Owning the experience versus hosting it on a third-party platform)
Are you willing to do the work to bring customers to a one-to-many one-time event?
At the end of the day, you want to ensure that the live shopping app fits the needs of your business and processes.
Interactive video - The perfect pairing to live shopping
Interactive videos can be a great way to complement live shopping experiences. While live shopping is an excellent way to engage customers, it can only happen at a specific time. However, 90% of shoppers say that watching a video helps them make purchase decisions. That's where interactive videos come in. You can crop and edit sections of your live shopping video recordings into bite-sized video shorts that you can embed all over your website. Customers can still enjoy a live shopping experience by browsing through these videos anytime they like. Give Ghost Video a try for free!
This blog was originally published in May 2022. It was last updated in February 2024.