How to Hire Live Video Shopping Staff

Get 1:1 face time with online shoppers by offering live video commerce. Follow our guide to learn about 4 staffing models and how to hire for your live shopping experience.

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Live video shopping gives retailers a chance to have real 1:1 face time with online shoppers.

Emphasis on the word ‘face’. 

To run an effective live shopping experience, actual people need to be visible and ready to engage with online shopping customers on the other end of the line. 

This is, realistically, a net new role for many companies to consider hiring, sitting at a unique intersection of customer service, product knowledge, salesperson, and influencer, while bridging the gap between ecommerce and a more traditional retail experience.

The good news is, there are multiple ways to staff any live stream shopping experience. Which option works best will at least somewhat tie into what live video shopping model is selected - including in-store, studio, or at-home models. 

Note that when we're talking about live stream shopping, in this instance, we're referring to 1:1 live commerce that's taking place from a company's owned channels, such as an ecommerce storefront or app. This is different than event-based livestream shopping shows, such as what you might find with Instagram Live Shopping, Facebook Live, YouTube Live, Amazon Live, or any other number of live streaming shopping platforms such as Popshop Live.

With 1:1 live shopping, the tool typically functions with an 'always on' schedule, or at least, a schedule that fits within typical business hours for a specific geographic region - not unlike a customer service center. Instead of hiring staff to host a one-time live shopping event, the aim is to build out a team that can answer calls whenever live shopping is available.

Keep reading to understand how to staff a live video shopping experience.

Retail employees as live shopping associates 

Live shopping gives brands with a brick and mortar footprint the opportunity to bring the ‘theater of the store’ into the homes of ecommerce customers. The benefits of using an in-store model are outlined here, and one of them includes leveraging in-store staff to maximize productivity and revenue per square foot.

Here’s a few things to keep in mind if retail employees are being tapped to answer live shopping calls:

Not every retail employee is a good fit for live selling

The ideal livestream shopping associates should be personable, extremely product knowledgeable, and excited about finding the right solution to a customer’s particular problem or inquiry. While most retail employees are hired for their ability to provide good customer service, a great live salesperson should not only be able to communicate well with customers live, but have genuine enthusiasm for the job. 

Monitoring the live call queue should be an assigned duty, not a free for all

Responding to live calls should become part of the roster of retail store duties, just as certain employees may be assigned ‘fitting room’ or ‘checkout’ duty. Employing a ‘whoever’s available’ situation can quickly lead to a disjointed and frustrating experience for both the customer and the staff. When a team member isn’t actively taking video commerce calls, they can assist with other duties in-store, but their number one priority should be keeping an eye and ear out for calls. Using a live shopping app like GhostRetail also allows these team members to take breaks, just like anyone else. They can trigger their availability on and off, with calls automatically redistributed across the entire live shopping network.

Build a team that spans time and space 

One limitation of using in-store employees is they’ll generally be restricted to whatever retail hours a physical store operates within. That is, unless a merchant’s geographic footprint extends beyond a single time zone. In this case, the live selling team should be drawn from multiple locations, effectively extending live shopping support hours. Tapping into multiple geos also allows brands to select the best associates suited for live commerce calls from a wider pool than what might be available in a single location.

Dedicated live shopping associates

A second option for staffing any live shopping experience is to employ team members that are specifically dedicated to providing this service. This approach works across in-store, studio, and at-home live selling setups. Associates can then be hired based on their product knowledge, presentation skills, and ability to effectively sell to and engage with customers in a 1-on-1 environment. 

The strongest benefit of going the dedicate associate route is they can be handpicked to maximize sales - particularly if compensation is motivated by their live selling performance. While a retail store associate might see livestream shopping calls as just part of their job, with dedicated associates, it is their job. 

Here’s some considerations before going down the dedicated associate path.

Setting expectations for full-time in-store live shopping associates

If live shopping associates are being brought into the retail environment exclusively to host calls, it’s important to define how that role will function within the larger team. This includes giving the job its own title, description and duties, to better qualify candidates (whether internal or external hires) as the right people for the job.

If the role has a hybrid reporting structure-for example, associates reporting directly to the floor manager as well as a company-wide ‘live shopping team’ manager-that should also be clearly defined. Finally, if live commerce associates are meant to have any other retail support duties, those would need to be clarified as well. 

Maximizing productivity of dedicated live shopping associates

When hiring a new role dedicated to a new commerce service, it’s normal to wonder if the live shopping associates will be ‘kept busy’ enough to warrant their existence. But as long as the live experience is being staffed and promoted appropriately, live call traffic should stream in consistently enough that associates will have little downtime between calls.

That being said, there are other ways to leverage dedicated associates. In a retail environment, live shopping associates might be tasked with supporting the store’s operations. In a studio environment, associates could be in charge of creating content using the studio’s setup and products, for use on social media, PDPs, or in the waiting room for a live shopping experience. 

At-home associates have the most flexible live commerce setup of them all. They could be paid a flat daily rate with or without commission caps. With this setup, the at-home they would have on-call hours and might be paid a flat rate or commission for every call they are able to close with a sale.

Customer service associates

Brands that have a strong online customer service workforce, or brands that are digitally native, might actually use their customer service team to answer live shopping calls. In this instance, it’s essential to have a studio setup available for the customer service team to hop on video calls when they come in. 

Like with the retail staff model, customer service team members may split their duties between answering live video calls and answering support queries through other channels, such as live chat, phone, or email.

Just like with retail staff, it’s critical to be diligent about choosing who answers live shopping calls. Customer service over a video call is a very different experience and level of interaction than virtually any other channel, and should be reserved for employees who feel comfortable and confident in front of a camera. 

Typically speaking, the live commerce shopping channel should be reserved for customers who are looking for shopping support, not typical customer order management support. Having a clear line of understanding about what types of calls should be fielded through live commerce will help distinguish typical customer service duties from live video shopping support.

Specialty associates

The final type of associate a brand might want to hire are essentially specialists. It’s possible these associates may not be hired on a full-time basis, or in a way that requires them to work a standard eight-hour day.

The key differentiation with specialty associates is they are truly a product expert or advocate, and often easily identifiable as one of the best, if not the best person to answer a customer’s questions about a brand or product. 

Alternatively, a specialty associate may be someone that has a high public profile, such as a social influencer or creator. Involving this type of specialty associate is in many ways, a form of influencer marketing, particularly if they leverage their public persona to drive traffic to a live shopping experience during select times. 

Specialty associates may be employed in any of the store set-up models we’ve already identified. For example, a specialist on a particular brand of mobile phones might work part-time out of their home. Or a popular fashion influencer might work out of a store or a studio to answer calls every Friday. 

If specialty associates are going to be part of the hiring mix, here’s some things to think about first.

Manage availability expectations 

Influencers can be a great way to generate buzz for a live shopping experience, particularly at launch. But it’s unlikely (and unsustainable) for a single person to answer 100% of calls. It’s important to let customers know they might only have an opportunity to connect with a specialty live stream shopping associate. While it is possible to delegate 100% of traffic to a single live shopping associate, say, for a fixed period of time, expectations still need to be set. For example, if ‘Sarah Brand Ambassador’ was answering calls from 10-12 on Monday mornings, realistically she would likely only be able to handle a dozen or so calls within that two-hour block. If the specialty associate has a social media following in the millions, it is quite possible their fanbase will be disappointed if expectations aren’t communicated properly. 

Don’t be afraid to expand geographic reach

Using specialty associates gives brands the ability to tap into live shopping associate talent that might not be in their primary geographic region. For example, a retail brand headquartered in the UK with DTC sales to the US might realize they have an American superfan who could sell out of their home. Or a specific supplier based far away from a brick and mortar location might want to provide live shopping support for their product line, meaning live commerce promotion might be focused on specific product pages to drive more conversions for that line.

How to get started with staffing a live shopping experience

At GhostRetail, we walk our clients through several key milestones in kicking off their evergreen live shopping offering, one of which is managing livestream commerce staffing estimates based on site traffic, GMV, and other factors. Part of the process also involves scaling up live commerce after going through an initial pilot program. The more familiar and comfortable customers become with live video shopping, the higher the demand. 

These are just a few variables that may impact call volume:

  • Live shopping channel promotion (i.e. email, paid search, social media, display ads, etc.)
  • Specialty associate promotion
  • Launch activities 
  • Website surface area given over to live shopping (banners, buttons, callouts, etc.)
  • Seasonality
  • Product drops
  • Overall adoption and awareness of live shopping

With GhostRetail, the availability of live shopping promotions can be throttled based on associate capacity. If the call queue becomes backed up, customers will always have the opportunity to book an appointment to have an associate contact them at a time that’s convenient.

We always recommend starting small, giving associates the chance to answer calls and get familiar with the experience, before scaling up and opening up the live shopping experience to any caller at any time. 

Want help kickstarting your live video commerce experience? Book a demo with us today.

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