Live selling is the latest trend trend for online retailers and more brands than ever are starting to embrace it. In fact, 78% of businesses use live commerce to build deeper connections with customers and 80% of marketers think live sales will be an important part of sharing new products and services in the coming years.
If you’re new to live commerce don’t worry, this guide covers everything you need to know, from which platforms to stream on to tips for making your live selling broadcasts successful.
What is live selling?
Live selling uses live videos to showcase products or services, allowing customers to buy those products in real time and without leaving the live stream. Also known as live shopping, live selling mostly takes place on social media networks but in recent years, platforms dedicated primarily to live selling have gained popularity.
Live selling has its roots in the Home Shopping Network or QVC, which televised products live to help viewers make more informed purchasing decisions. Now that live shopping takes place online rather than on television, it’s much more interactive. Customers can ask questions, leave comments, and even chat with each other via the live stream chat, and many platforms have engagement features like polls or games to help make the broadcast more dynamic and fun.
What kinds of products can you sell on live shopping streams? According to Shopify, the most trending items to sell online in 2023 are:
- Power tool accessories
- Dog toys
- Costume shoes
- Laptop batteries
- Shot glasses
- Wall plates and covers
- Baby shirts
- Curtain and drape rings
The most popular categories for live stream shopping as of 2021 were:
- Apparel and fashion products
- Beauty products
- Fresh food
- Consumer electronics
- Furnishings and home decor
- Local online-to-offline sales (like tickets to shows or experiences)
These categories still dominate the live shopping industry in 2023. However, as live selling grows, more niche brands and creators are entering the sphere.
Benefits of live selling
With the growth of online retail each year, brands have to find a way to differentiate themselves and their products. Live sales can make your e-commerce brand stand out from other online stores. In a 2022 survey, 35% of consumers said they purchased a brand’s product after seeing a live stream on social media. If you’re a content creator, live selling can also be a way to monetize your live streams.
Social platforms like Amazon, YouTube and Instagram have millions of users that you can tap into with live shopping videos. You can also easily reach customers from around the world, gaining international exposure for your brand and widening your customer base.
Better customer experience
When asked, consumers said the main reason they liked live selling was the possibility of accessing exclusive discounts and getting ideas and inspiration for how to use the products. Other reasons included the ability to make smarter purchasing decisions and receive recommendations.
Live selling combines the highly social aspect of live video with the accessibility of online retail. People join a live shopping event for the interactions with your brand and other customers as well as for the products. By taking advantage of built-in engagement tools on your live selling platform of choice, you can build and solidify a community around your brand and attract viewers that share your values and identify with your brand personality.
Live video production doesn’t cost much — all you need is a camera, mic and internet connection and most platforms let you stream for free. Of course, you can increase the production level of your broadcasts by investing in higher-quality gear and hiring video production experts to help. But you don’t have to — you can determine your own budget.
When customers purchase products featured on live shopping streams, they’re 40% less likely to return those items than if they bought them from a traditional e-commerce store. That can translate into some serious sales.
🛒 The best live selling platforms
Nowadays, there are many live streaming platforms where you can sell your products. Social media platforms are the most popular because they have the largest user base, allowing you to attract more buyers. Some social networks have implemented live shopping features to make the buying experience seamless for viewers.
Millions of people buy on Amazon. The online marketplace accounts for nearly 38% of the U.S. e-commerce market. That’s why selling your products on Amazon via live streaming is such a logical choice. To be eligible for streaming on Amazon Live, you either need to join the Amazon Influencer Program or be a registered Amazon Seller. You can read all about the requirements and how to create engaging, shoppable streams in our full guide to streaming on Amazon.
After you’re approved, you can go live on the Amazon app on your smartphone or use a streaming software like Restream to go live from your desktop. A product carousel appears below your stream and you can add any Amazon products to it, whether they’re your own products or ones that you curate. If you’re in the Amazon Influencer Program, you get your own Amazon page with a unique URL or the ability to earn commissions on products you sell through streaming.
44% of people use Instagram to shop on a weekly basis, so if you already have a solid presence on the platform, it can be a good choice for a live shopping app. To broadcast shoppable streams on Instagram, you need to have an Instagram shop, which you can set up through Facebook’s Commerce Manager.
However, Meta announced that as of March 16, 2023, Instagram users will no longer be able to tag products in live broadcasts, ending its live shopping feature.
Streaming live sales on YouTube gives you access to more than 2.2 billion worldwide users. Since YouTube Live is a generalist platform that hosts gamers, retailers, artists and content creators of all kinds, you’ll face some competition. One way you can stand out is by using YouTube’s live shopping features, which were introduced in 2022.
If you have an e-commerce store on platforms like Shopify or Spring, you can integrate it with your YouTube channel. When you host a live broadcast on YouTube, you can feature your products in a few ways:
- Tag products to your live streams
- Pin products in the live chat
- Put products on your product shelf
Twitter is home to 237.8 million global monetizable daily active users and hosts live videos of all types. Live streaming on Twitter hasn’t caught on as much as other platforms like Instagram, but Twitter’s new live shopping features, combined with the potential for huge audiences, can make it a formidable choice for live selling.
With Twitter’s live shopping feature, which rolled out in November 2021, you can:
- Add a banner and tab on your live event page to feature all the products mentioned in the broadcast
- Add the “latest” products tab, which is where products show up as they appear on your stream in real time
Twitter has other e-commerce features you can combine with live shopping as well, like product announcements, hosting up to 50 products in your Twitter Shop, and adding products to the Shop Spotlight carousel on your Twitter profile.
Restream live shopping
Restream’s live shopping feature lets you create customized, professional, shoppable broadcasts using your Shopify, Amazon, Etsy, WooCommerce or other e-commerce store account. If you don’t have a store, you can also add affiliate links or donation links — you can turn any URL into a QR code and display it on your stream. With Restream, you can broadcast live videos that showcase your products and let you interact with customers in real time.
The professional live streaming studio from Restream lets you create fully customized and engaging broadcasts with features like:
- Multistreaming to all social media platforms
- Branding your live shopping event
- Scheduling a live shopping event in advance to share with your audience and promote across your channels
- Getting comments from all platforms in one place
- Streaming directly from your browser with no downloads necessary
- Adding scannable QR codes to your stream to promote your products
- Uploading a pre-recorded video and setting it to go live so you can focus more on audience interaction
With Restream, you can start your own live home shopping network, featuring your products.
Restream is also a multistreaming tool, meaning that you can broadcast your live sales to more than one platform simultaneously. You don’t need any extra software or equipment — go live with Restream Studio straight from your web browser to stream your live shopping experience on Facebook Live, YouTube Live, Amazon Live, Twitter and more.
all at once
Tips to become successful at live sales
Keep these live selling best practices in mind if you want to boost both engagement and sales on your live shopping streams.
1. Provide high-quality live content
Most viewers will not tolerate low-quality live streams — and they tolerate even less if you’re trying to sell them something. Ensure you have decent audio and video quality by doing the following:
- Check that you have a stable internet connection and a good upload speed for streaming.
- Get an external webcam. It doesn’t have to be top-of-the-line, as long as you also have good lighting.
- Get an external microphone. Having a decent mic is more important than having a decent webcam because viewers usually have a lower tolerance for bad audio than they do for bad video.
2. Use storytelling
Viewers like to establish personal connections with live streamers. Tell them your story and show off your personality. What makes you and your brand unique? When viewers can identify with you, they’ll feel a stronger emotional attachment and be more likely to make a purchase from your stream. Live streaming is the best digital tool for forging that connection because you can chat with people and answer their questions in real time.
3. Focus on your products
Telling your story is important, but don’t forget to show off your products too! Have some samples with you and be prepared to showcase them, whether it’s trying them on, demonstrating how they work or giving practical use cases. If you’re selling clothes, show your audience how to wear and accessorize them. If you’re selling cosmetics, do a tutorial on how to achieve a certain look with your products.
4. Communicate with your audience
Try to engage your viewers, answer their questions, and make them feel as if you’re there exclusively for them. Lots of platforms have other engagement tools as well, like polls or games. Invite guests or co-hosts onto your stream so you can interview them or let your audience ask them questions. If you use Restream Studio to host your live selling stream, you can easily add a remote guest by sending them a secure link to join. Restream’s chat feature also lets you combine all the live chats from each platform you’re streaming to into a single widget, so you can quickly and easily interact with everyone who’s watching your stream.
5. Use QR codes and clickable links for products
A huge drawback for buyers is a tough purchase process. Take advantage of live shopping features so you can add a product carousel to your stream. That way, viewers can purchase products without leaving the stream.
To make the live shopping experience even more seamless, you can also display product QR codes on-stream. Viewers can simply scan the code with their mobile device to get to the product’s page, all without leaving your live stream. With Restream’s live shopping QR codes, a notification appears every time a code gets scanned that all viewers see. When a product is getting a ton of scans, all of your viewers will see it — which makes that product more appealing.
If you aren’t embedding products into the stream, make sure you at least provide links to purchase the products in the description or live chat.
Share your live streams on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram and any platforms where you have a decent following or subscriber count. Get as much exposure for your content as possible by streaming to multiple platforms at once. Use Restream to easily go live on multiple platforms at once, right from your web browser.
Five successful live sale retailers
Plenty of brands have started embracing live selling and have had a lot of success with it. Learn how to make your live shopping events a smash by looking at some of these examples.
Chocolatory by KitKat
KitKat combined Facebook live shopping with a targeted ad campaign to help promote the Chocolatory holiday campaign in Australia. The campaign tripled sales on kitkat.com.au and increased brand awareness. The live event on Facebook encouraged people to make even more sales using the Comment to Message feature during the stream.
It’s a great example of using live shopping on social media in conjunction with your social ads. Live shopping can fit seamlessly with the rest of your marketing efforts, especially on social media platforms that offer live experiences.
Skincare brand Kiehl’s ran an ad campaign in Malaysia using Instagram Live. Kiehl’s took advantage of two things: Instagram’s position as a platform for discovering new beauty products, and the heavy shopping season that coincides with Ramadan. The Instagram Live sessions feature Kiehl’s beauty advisors answering viewers’ questions about products as well as offering skincare tips for Ramadan.
Kiehl’s got an 8x return on ad spend for this campaign and 50% of new customers in 2021 came from this campaign. The takeaway from this live shopping example is to know your audience. Kiehl’s knew that people would be more open to making purchases during Ramadan, so they planned their live session around it.
The department store Bloomingdale’s started hosting live shopping events during the pandemic, as a way to reach customers at home. For one of their events, they partnered with Jimmy Choo’s creative director, who talked to virtual shoppers about the season’s footwear trends and showed off a few products. Bloomingdale’s sent macarons and cocktails to viewers in advance of the live show, so they had refreshments during the event. The first 50 people who made a purchase from Jimmy Choo also received a custom sketch.
The takeaway from Bloomingdale’s is to make live shopping events an experience, not just another live stream. Don’t make it feel like viewers are just sitting in on another video conference call — make it fun and exclusive.
JCPenney collaborates with influencers to host themed live shopping events. The guest influencer either runs the stream or joins as a co-host and presents their favorite products available from JCPenney. One series of JCP Live broadcasts featured founders of beauty brands who not only showed off their brands’ products but also gave advice on running a business and growing a community.
By partnering with influencers for live selling events, JCPenney taps into a wider audience. They also give influencers a platform to share and promote their favorite products. The other big takeaway from JCP Live is to make your live sales themed: focus on beauty products for one session, then fashion the next, then home decor, etc. Don’t lump products from different categories into the same live stream.
Coffee and tea-maker Quivr started streaming on Instagram and TikTok, but eventually moved their live commerce streams to Amazon Live. Their logic for the move was simple: viewers on Amazon are more primed to purchase than they are on Instagram or TikTok, which are entertainment-first platforms. Promoting their nitro cold brew coffee on Amazon has driven more sales.
What you can learn from Quivr is that the platform you stream to matters. Amazon Live works best for this brand and it might for yours too, but maybe you’ll have better luck elsewhere. The trick is figuring out where your most qualified customers spend their time and reaching them on that platform. You can read our guide to the best live shopping apps to choose one that works for you.
Let’s wrap up
Anyone can start selling things online with the help of live streaming. Considering the growth of the live streaming and live commerce market, people all over the globe have started using this strategy. You can sell just about anything on live streams, from apparel and cosmetics to jewelry and books.
You can start selling on one of the most popular platforms, like Amazon Live, YouTube Live and Instagram, or simply multistream on all of them at once with Restream. When done right, live selling streams will help drive more sales and make your brand stand out.