Do you remember when you were little and your mom or dad would be watching TV and pick up the phone to order the appliance on the screen? I do, but I always assumed channels like this just gradually disappeared as I got older.
Nope — turns out home shopping channels QVC and HSN have spent over 3 decades in over 300 million homes doing a television version of livestream shopping. Under the care of a multibillion dollar corporation, Qurate Retail, QVC has been able to hold its own against the power of online shopping by delivering the two essential pillars of ecommerce: video demos and reviews. You may think, that’s so sweet that some things don’t change. Well they do, because young people, aka generation z and younger, don’t have patience for commercials let-alone an one-way endless sales pitch…
… enter Instagram. In the spring of 2020, Facebook launched Instagram Shops, becoming the first social media platform to have an in-app shopping feature. This allowed brands to include clickable links on their photos that bring shoppers directly to the point of sale for that item.
Facebook took it one step further just a couple of months later when it launched Facebook Shop. This tool brought improvements to Instagram Shops and differentiated itself from Facebook Marketplace by giving users what they want most — the brands. New customization options, messaging, and insights to measure results were irresistible features to brands struggling with converting engagement to sales. Facebook Shop also allowed sellers to talk to customers through Facebook Messages, Instagram Direct Messages, and WhatsApp. What really changed the game was the introduction of Live Shopping events where hosts can host product demonstrations and customers can purchase items through the stream on either Facebook or Instagram.
Amazon Live launched a little over a month ago, judging that the success of Facebook’s live streaming would be even more successful with the strong brands under Amazon’s wing. Even Tik Tok, a relatively new name in the social media sphere, is in the midst of a deal that would allow Tik Tok influencers to promote products and sell them through Walmart.
Facebook and Amazon, and now Tik Tok, are being smart — they know that the one thing missing from online shopping, exacerbated by this pandemic, is a feeling of community and personalization. That’s why influencer programs like Amazon’s are adapting, pushing tried and true QVC to the back burner for digital natives.
What people have realized from watching users interact with Instagram shops is that something needs to inspire users to go shop in the app — influencers. It is the influencers that point shoppers in the right direction and create relationships with customers, not brands’ CEOs. Amazon Live allows influencers to do just that. The platform’s main benefits, according to Amazon itself, when you boil them down are:
For the influencer, commissions.
For the brand, exposure.
For the consumer, a unique shopping experience.
With about half the ecommerce market under its domain, Amazon is the next (if not the better version of) QVC. Digital savvy shoppers can have the niche community they crave and feel like they’re being sold to by their favorite influencer as opposed to a stranger in a store… or one on your TV.
What does this mean for small business and start-up brands?
Get your wallets and creativity ready because influencer marketing is going to be what keeps your business from becoming just another dish in the boundless Amazon brand buffet.