Amazon Live Video Shows Us The Future Of E-CommerceSheng
During this year’s Prime Day event, I was glued to my computer screen. Not because I was hunting for deals, but because I was watching Amazon Live – the retail giant’s QVC-style video shopping platform.
Some segments were far more engaging than others. The Amazon-produced livestream with two energetic hosts discussing the Air Fryer got my attention. I asked what the hosts’ favorite recipe was, and she responded live, as well as calling out some interesting answers from other live viewers.
Other livestreams were less compelling. The lady demonstrating a laptop bag in broken english was clearly nervous, and needed to text her boss and made viewers wait for his reply to answer my simple question about a warranty on the product.
Growing pains aside, Amazon Live, and live video more broadly, will play a significant role in online shopping going forward. We see it already at scale in China, and marketers and influencers alike in the US have embraced the platform, of which Amazon is currently kingmaker. Best practices are emerging for those brands and tastemakers who have already jumped in.
China leads with video
The Chinese retail market is certainly leading with the livestreaming trend. In 2019, livestream shopping accounted for 9% of China’s total ecommerce revenues. During COVID lockdowns, Chinese retailers have been livestreaming 1:1 consultations and store walk-throughs. And in lieu of an in-person event, Shanghai Fashion Week in late March was fully livestreamed on the shopping marketplace TaoBao.
Although China’s ecommerce market is different to the US, with Amazon Live, we are seeing a cultural crossover in action. Like the US, China has a thriving influencer market, known as “Key Opinion Leaders”, who shoppers rely on as tastemakers. Like in China, American shoppers increasingly look to influencers across categories like cooking, beauty, e-sports, and home renovations, to provide input on their future purchases.
Influencers are on-board with Amazon Live
Amazon has harnessed its existing network of influencers to bring more dynamism and traffic to the platform. During the Prime Day event, Amazon announced Prime Exclusive Deals to its network of influencers, allowing them to create live video content around featured products. This created an engaging experience for shoppers who could explore video content that featured great discounts.
There are two ways for brands to work with category influencers and publish Live video: through the brand’s own Amazon Live account, or to have the influencer publish via their own account.
The latter is the route that beauty conglomerate Amorepacific US went down. The company worked with several beauty influencers who could tap into their own following and introduce them to Amorepacific brands. Brian Lee, Head of Business Development at Amorepacific US, says that the content creators that we chose for the Amazon Live event have been trusted partners for a long time. “[They] knew our products well and could speak to the assortment from the heart.”
Amorepacific’s influencers were asked to promote their participation in the Amazon Live event on Instagram, raising awareness for the event and the brands with their audience and giving them an opportunity to tune in.
Show, don’t tell
The multi-sensory engagement that video provides is better than anything that the printed word or static images alone can provide. Research by Analytic Partners shows that an online video impression is worth three times more than a digital display impression in terms of return on investment.
Amorepacific’s Brian Lee says that each marketing activity has different benefits, and Amazon Live is no exception. “We’ve found this platform impactful for consumers who prefer learning about ingredients and seeing textures before purchasing, creating a comprehensive virtual shopping experience.” By demonstrating the product live, the host can interact with our consumers in real-time and hear what they like and what they need more information on.
TV personality Kristin Cavallari did a livestream on Amazon to promote her new cookbook. Within the livestream carousel, she also included links to products from her own brand “Uncommon James” which is also sold on Amazon.
During the livestream, Cavallari did a live cooking demo creating two favorite recipes from the cookbook. It was a simple setup – a single shot view in her kitchen, with a laptop off to the side so that she could address audience questions. Live video does not need to be fussy or overly-produced to be engaging.
Another huge benefit of livestreaming is that shoppers can ask questions of both the brand and experts. For one of their Prime Day videos, Buzzfeed called on influencer Noël Duan, founder of Argos and Artemis – an online community for “good dogs and good humans with good taste”. The Amazon Live video was promoted both on BuzzFeed and her site. Duan says that she didn’t recognize most of the viewers on the Amazon Live – indicating that much of the live traffic was from native Amazon shoppers rather than Duan’s existing followers.
Duan says that she got plenty of interaction from viewers during her hour-long segment, so much that it was hard to stay on top of both the questions coming through and her prepared content.
Combine live video with deals
During Prime Day, “Prime Exclusive Deals” showed prominently in the product carousel. Influencers and brands used the opportunity to highlight these official deals. It gave many influencers a playbook – knowing which products to develop content around.
But official Prime Exclusive Deals come at a cost. One company with an active live video presence on Prime Day was health food and supplement brand Bulletproof. Mia Taylor, Senior Social Media and Influencer Manager at Bulletproof, says that the company chose to setup their own Amazon coupons instead of official Prime Exclusive Deals, at a lower cost and with similar effectiveness. Instead of a setup fee, coupon fees are only charged to the brand upon redemption, and non-Prime members are also able to redeem coupons.
Taylor says that Bulletproof’s main goal on Amazon Live is attracting qualified views. “Ideally we get conversions but we also evaluate sound-on views, and click-through as key metrics,” says Taylor.
Detailed analytics of sales uplift is one thing that Amazon Live video is so far lacking within its native metrics. It’s not clear to what degree certain sales are driven or affected by live video – the closest metric is click-throughs to products featured in the Live content.
Lighting retailer Lamps Plus debuted an Amazon Live segment in 2019’s Prime Day. Angela Hsu, the company’s senior vice president of marketing and eCommerce, told RetailWire in an interview last year that amongst hard metrics like cost per view and cost per engagement, the brand would be trying to manually quantify sales uplift. “We will also review the sales lift of the products we showcase on Amazon Live as well as the overall sales lift of our Lamps Plus products on Amazon.”
Despite the challenge in measuring direct results, Bulletproof for one will be continuing to invest in live video. “The more we participate, the more we improve our Live standing and can hopefully get broader reach,” says Taylor. “It’s a prime space to educate our customers on why Bulletproof is fully invested in helping them tap into their potential to be at their best, every day.”