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29 Live Video Shopping Use Cases for Omnichannel Retailers

Omnichannel retailers have already mastered the magic of creating a great in-store shopping experience - making them uniquely positioned to replicate that experience in a fresh new way through live video co-shopping online.

Okay, okay let’s get the obvious out of the way - retailers invented live shopping. As in, visiting a store, touching items in real life, and (generally) checking out with them in hand as you exit the store. 

But unlike digitally native brands, retailers have had an additional challenge when it comes to ecommerce: How to reverse engineer their in-store experience to something comparable online. 

For a lot of retail brands, this comes down to things like syncing promotions and inventory, providing seamless returns, tapping into the power of the endless aisle, offering BOPIS, curbside pickup, or local last mile delivery, or other omnichannel tactics that give customers an exceptional experience no matter where they’re shopping.

And yet, both the retail and ecommerce experience leave something to be desired on either end. Customers are frustrated by retail’s limited hours, having to travel somewhere to go shopping (and the headaches that come with it), not having a store located close to them, or not having in-store inventory. Online shopping gives customers the ability to shop on their own terms and timelines, but without the in-store tactile experience and guided support of a sales associate that they’re used to. 

Is there a solution to this gap? You bet. A lot of them, actually. Omnichannel retailers have been implementing all kinds of solutions for years, from live chat to personalized recommendations and content to bundling and promotions. 

Yet all of these approaches are missing the one thing retail truly does better than ecommerce: The human element. That is, until now. 

Live video shopping presents a unique bridge between what shoppers love about visiting a store and browsing online. They can access your site (and your store!) from anywhere, at any time - but with the trusted guidance they’ve come to know and expect from an in-store visit. 

This gives customers the ability to:

  • Visit a store they may not otherwise have access to
  • See products in multiple dimensions 
  • Build a stronger, personal relationship with the brand 
  • Access the support they need, on demand 

Let’s dive into some of the main use cases for live video shopping for omnichannel retailers. 

How live shopping connects the in-store and online experience

Retailers with brick and mortar locations are uniquely positioned to take advantage of the possibilities live shopping presents. For example, retailers can choose to staff their live shopping experience with in-store associates. They can also opt to have live shopping calls answered from within a store - bringing the ‘theater of the store’ to any shopper, including ones that may live far away from a retail location. 

There are plenty of other ways to marry the online and in-store shopping experiences as well - including these use cases below.

Check for and set aside local inventory

In the wake of Covid-19, many retailers created systems to better track in-store inventory for online shoppers, particularly those ordering delivery or curbside pickup. But sometimes it can still be a challenge to track down a product in store. Live video shopping gives customers the chance to have a live shopping associate hunt down a product before they set foot out the door, and even set it aside for them to check out when they arrive.

Experience the theater of the store from anywhere

While many digitally native or DTC brands are opening retail locations, their brick and mortar footprint is still tiny compared to legacy retailers. And in many cases, retailers have been closing down, not opening locations, over the last few years. Live shopping lets any customer from any location experience a store without needing to be there in person. Flagship or concept stores are just a click away - as are familiar favorites if a customer can’t make it in one day.

Discover new arrivals either in-store or online

In-store and online stock availability can sometimes be out of sync. Linking up with a retail store can help shoppers discover new items that aren’t online yet, or conversely, they could ask for help with taking an item they spotted in store but can’t locate online. The retail live shopping associate can look up the item in store and either help find it online, provide availability information, or recommend alternatives. 

Bring a retail associate into a customer's space

Normally shoppers have to visit a store with their closet or home in mind - but with live shopping, they can bring the store to their space. This view helps associates conceptualize the specific ask of a customer - like how much light a room has or what color their flooring is. Before live shopping was possible, this would have been handled through back and forth text or chat messaging, with an exchange of static photos. Live video makes it a cinch for associates to see a space in real time - including a customer’s closet if they’re shopping for clothes.

Save time browsing online and in-store

Live 1:1 shopping is a handy shortcut for busy shoppers to find what they want without needing to visit a retail store OR spend a lot of time browsing online. Shoppers can simply connect with a live shopping associate, explain what they're looking for, and make a purchase without having to waste a lot of time. This use case is particularly relevant for retailers with BOPIS (Buy Online Pickup In Store) options as a customer could order a product while en route to a store, complete the sale, and simply walk in and pick it up with minimal effort on their end.

Connect with a virtual shopper in-store

Typically live video shopping involves a customer calling in from home or while they’re out and about. However, there are some situations where it makes sense for customers to be able to connect with a live shopper while they're visiting a store, particularly for highly technical products. For example, a home appliance retailer could have QR codes by their small appliances. Scanning a QR code could pipe that customer's call to the small appliance manufacturer, or an expert about a particular type of appliance, to answer any questions they have about a product’s function or use. 

How live shopping drives conversions for omnichannel retailers

Everyone knows that retail benefits from a significantly higher conversion rate than ecommerce - to the tune of 20x higher. 

A good conversion rate for a retail store is 20% or more - meaning at least 1 in 5 customers are walking out the door with a purchase in hand. For some retail categories, this number could be as high as 40%. Meanwhile, ecommerce conversion rates in the U.S. are typically around 2%, with just 2 out of 100 visitors buying something.

To be fair, there is a big difference in intent between browsing online and shopping in-store. With the exception of a casual visit to a mall, most shoppers have made the effort to get to a specific store and walk in the doors because they’re on the hunt for something. The accessibility of ecommerce is also its downfall when it comes to conversions; shoppers may casually drop by after clicking an ad, wanting to see if something exists, or just browsing a bunch of stores at once. 

These are all realities of why ecommerce conversion rates remain low. But there’s also that missing human element we talked about. Shoppers sometimes need a little more support than the fixed information a retailer is supplying on their website. Enter live video shopping platforms. A live shopping associate can answer these questions and provide more insights in real time, on demand - like with all of these use cases. 

Track down the right size

One of the top concerns online shoppers have is whether an item will fit. The best case scenario is to allow them to try it on in-store and make a purchase, but that can't always happen. Having a fit expert on call is way more effective than any size guide or AI-based tool could ever be. Your live shopping associates can take in a customer’s actual morphology and measurements and recommend the best size the first time, reducing returns and boosting customer happiness. 

Look at color more closely

Online screens can be deceiving, especially when it comes to color. Make sure customers see products in the right lighting before deciding whether to buy by offering live shopping. The associate can hold up multiple colors side by side, speak to the actual shade of an item apart from its ‘creative’ merchandising name online, and even advise whether a color will suit a customer based on their complexion. 

Co-shop with someone that has like physical features 

In most people’s circle of friends, no one will know their very specific woes when it comes to things like body type, hair texture, or skin sensitivity. Hence the rise of influencers in niche categories based on their physical appearance. But your live shopping associates can also fill this role. Shoppers can be routed to the exact red-haired, freckle-faced associate with sensitive skin to get the lowdown on what products they should add to their regime. Why wait for UGC to roll in when you could just as easily tap a network of informed product evangelists? 

Co-shop with an associate that has like interests

It’s not just physical characteristics that can match up - interests are another great motivator to co-shop with a specific product expert. For example, an athleticwear brand may have a live shopping associate that’s obsessed with running. Fellow runners can tap into their expertise to ensure they’re getting the right gear for that long-distance marathon, based on the associate’s real-life experience and product use. What’s great about a use case like this is it can transcend what’s possible in the retail space. You may have a product expert in a specific niche, but they’re tied to one physical store. Live video shopping makes that customer’s knowledge accessible to all (including customers shopping in other retail locations that connect on a video call while browsing).

Learn about fabric or material details

Consumers have increasingly wanted to see detailed photos or content of a product before they buy it and retailers have taken notice. Now when you look at products online, you can virtually try them on or navigate with special videos, augmented reality and 3D models. While nothing beats an actual in-store experience, a live video call can help go beyond the static information that lives on a website to service the specific queries of any individual like - how long will this item be on me? Does it stretch? What does the closure look like? All of these little details can be answered in real time. 

Compare two or more products

When customers are undecided between two or more products, they hesitate and may not buy any of them. They might even purchase both with the full intent to return one. Other than visiting a physical store, nothing beats seeing items side-by-side to help you make an informed decision. Which, good news - is something that’s incredibly easy to do in a virtual shopping environment, alongside insight and support from the live shopping associate.  

Understand the size of a product in three dimensions

Products can look different in pictures than they do in person. Sometimes, negative reviews are given for a product that is much larger or smaller than the customer imagined it would be. No matter how much effort a retailer puts into their product detail pages, there’s always room for gaps or misunderstandings about scale. That is, unless you add live video shopping into the mix. Shoppers can see a product to scale on another person, get specific measurements, and ask their personal niche questions like will this clutch fit my phone or is that sample product going to last me for an entire two-week trip? 

See a specific element of the product that's not clear in photos

Top retailers spend a significant effort ensuring every product image does a lot of the heavy lifting when it comes to selling products. But all that artistic license a photographer can take can fall short for a customer’s specific needs. For example, a shopper may return an item because they didn’t realize it had an invisible zipper (and they hate invisible zippers!) or that the frame of a picture they bought had a beveled, not flat, edge. A live shopping call lets customers see a product from any angle - in close-up, in different lights, and any other little details that’ll help them feel confident in their buying decision.

Listen to an audio experience 

Audio speaks thousands of words in a way pictures simply can’t. For products with an audio component, such as speakers, instruments and alarms; and even decorative items like wind chimes or fountains, your customers will want the ability to hear it before the buy it. Static videos can help, but a virtual shopping experience lets shoppers compare sounds side-by-side, or test them for specific use cases. Also consider the use case of wanting to hear items that aren't meant to make a lot of noise. Many products can end up in the returns pile because they made some buzzing, humming, or louder-than-expected noise that they wish they’d heard before they checked out.

Close more sales with incentives

Live calls simulate the retail experience in more ways than one. A live shopping associate can guide a customer to checkout, just like they would in a store. If a shopper shows any signs of hesitating, the sales associate has a special incentive: They can offer a promotion code on the fly (one they won’t be able to find on discount or coupon aggregators). Hello more conversions AND happy shoppers! 

How live shopping simulates the experience of working with an in-store retail associate

We’ve already mentioned how adding a human touch to the online shopping experience can drive more conversions. But there’s also something to be said about bringing an enhanced level of customer support for reasons beyond just getting someone to buy an item. A lot of visitors to your site are simply hesitant to buy products online, and customer service can go a long way to help them feel more comfortable with their transaction. 

Live video shopping is like equipping your online store with retail sales associates - product experts and brand evangelists hand-picked for their ability to sell to anyone and find the right items for every shopper. Here’s a few ways offering live co-shopping can help simulate the in-store experience and sway reluctant shoppers into buyers. 

Build trust by adding a human element

Shopper trust is still a real factor for many abandoned carts. Review platforms and security seals can only go so far - there are some high value or high consideration products, particularly those with the potential to be counterfeit, where a shopper may just feel too hesitant to shop online. Linking up with a live shopping associate who can answer questions, show products off, and speak to the legitimacy of the business can seriously help build trust, just the way connecting with an in-store associate would.

Track down a replacement or appropriate product

Shoppers can quickly become paralyzed online when shopping for a replacement or refill for an item - is this the exact filter they need for their vacuum? Will this cable charge this device? Instead of guessing, live shopping associates can point shoppers to the exact right item they need. Less tech-savvy shoppers will love the ability to tap a virtual store associate on the shoulder to track down the right product SKUs, serial numbers, or manuals they need to use their product again.

Find the right product for a specific need

Visiting a retail store is a great opportunity to speak with a retail sales associate, explain your needs, and track down the right item - something that is basically entirely self-guided based on combing through PDPs and product descriptions in a typical ecommerce experience. Live shopping gives shoppers the chance to run through their laundry list of requirements or uses, and have the associate confirm which products will work best for their needs. 

Watch or ask for a product demo

Sometimes the biggest obstacle for any shopper is being afraid that they won’t know how to use a product. Getting a firsthand demo of how to use anything from a liquid eyeliner to a pressure cooker to a drill can be all the support a customer needs to feel good about shopping with you - just like they would in store. 

Ask for technical specs

Clever copywriting can get in the way of a customer getting down to the nitty gritty of whether a product meets their technical needs. Instead of navigating through a lengthy support chat, a quick live video check-in with a retail sales associate can give shoppers the answers they need.

Co-shop for a gift

Gift shopping can be hard, particularly for categories a customer normally never shops at all - like the classic example of a man browsing for women’s lingerie. Live video co-shopping acts like an in-store sales associate stepping in to help track down the ideal gift, no panic mode required. Best of all, online co-shopper opens up stores to customers that may never feel comfortable visiting a store in person or trying to shop on their own online.

Help low-tech shoppers

Look at any stats and you’ll see while ecommerce accounts for a major part of spending for Millennials and younger, adoption is lagging the older te demographic. Video co-shoppings bridges the gap between what a shopper is used to in store, while offering the convenience of shopping at home that younger generations already know and love. Live shopping associates can even help nervous shoppers walk through the checkout experience, just like they could ring up an item in store. 

Assist customers with disabilities

Live co-shopping is a great solution for shoppers that may otherwise have challenges navigating through a retail store or site on their own. Simply being able to have a conversation, even a non-verbal one, can aid shoppers to have a more productive and pleasant online shopping experience.

How live shopping can boost basket sizes

If you’ve ever connected with a particularly savvy in-store sales associate, you’ll likely have bought a bit more than you intended to. Maybe they brought an extra item to a fitting room, or asked a follow-up question about whether you had a particular accessory that would make your next bike trip way more comfortable. These little moments for organic cross-sells and upsells are completely missing in the online shopping experience - unless you’ve got live video shopping in place. 

Speaking with a real person gives shoppers the chance to receive feedback in real time about ways to round out their order, not only boosting AOV, but ensuring the shopper is getting a lineup of items they’ll be thrilled to receive and use. 

Cross-sell products 

Shoppers might see something they love, but pause because they can't picture what it 'goes with'. This could apply to anything from fashion - "What can I wear these wide leg striped jeans with?" - to furnishings - "What pillows would look great on this peacock blue couch?" A shopper can highlight something they like, such as an eyeshadow palette, and the retail associate can help the customer find the lid primer and brush they need to best apply their new products - all while having a positive impact on the order size.

Style a look

Personal shopping has been around since the 19th century in retail stores, and for good reason. They save customers the hassle of trying to curate a look on their own, and instead, style head to toe ensembles that can be instantly inserted into the buyer’s closet. Live video shopping calls allow customers to access personal shopping services on demand, whether they’re looking for an outfit for a specific occasion or purpose, or if they simply want to find pieces that match with something already in their closet. 

Connect with a specific live shopping associate for their recommendations

The rise of influencer culture means customers are already accustomed to identifying content creators they want to follow - in part because of their recommendations. This same type of relationship can be built up through live 1:1 shopping. Customers can connect with specific live shopping associates they admire or have something in common with and get personalized recommendations during a call. Influencers are known for boosting sales for the brands they partner with - having in-house influencers is an even quicker way to generate bigger order values. 

Offer personalized recommendations for related items or items frequently bought together

Most stores have some sort of programmatic algorithms in place to recommend products - but these are based on store browsing and purchasing data, not preferences. A live shopping associate can highlight how a product is styled or paired with others, or spotlight similar items that work well as a set, all while considering a customer's personal tastes and preferences. For example, a customer might be looking for a beauty product that avoids a particular ingredient. The site’s default algorithms will probably just suggest like items, but a live shopping associate can go deeper and track down products that exclude this particular ingredient.

Drive interest in specific products

House brands for multi-brand retailers and premium versions of products are just two types of product categories a retailer might be interested in driving more sales to, with the aim of boosting profitability. Live shopping associates can be trained on the benefits of premium products or house brands and make a special effort to mention them on calls, driving home the benefits of opting for a higher-priced product. 

How to start offering live shopping on your ecommerce site

The first step is deciding what type of live shopping experience you want to create. In the market for providing a tailored, 1-on-1 experience? That happens to be our specialty at Ghost. Book a discovery session with us today to go over your goals and ideas and we'll help you bring them to life.

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