Avon Company sets digital retail ambitions on livestream shopping

The Avon Company is jumping on the livestream shopping bandwagon.

On Tuesday, Avon Company (formerly New Avon Company) held its fourth livestream shopping event, after first testing out livestream shopping with its representatives in Aug 2020. Typically Avon hosts an in-person convention for its representatives where over 9,000 people show up, but due to Covid-19, the company opted to replace that event with livestream shopping. It’s hosted three more livestream shopping events since August, including its second representative event in January, and consumer-facing events in March and again this week. Each event is 30 minutes and can be found on Avon.com. An Avon representative declined to share the exact number of people who tuned in on Tuesday, but said it was “several thousand.”

“We have been pushing a lot of digitization with our representatives,” said Jason Sigala, Avon Company director of events. “We have a virtual try-on tool, and representatives can create their own virtual catalog and customize it and send it to their specific customers. livestream shopping is another vehicle to help with selling and to get back in people’s homes which we’ve not been able to do.”

Each Avon representative has a special referral link to livestream shopping events, so their customers can access special pricing and the representative can still earn commission on the sale. Avon uses Lisa software to host its livestream shopping.

While livestream shopping events are a daily occurrence in countries like China and even take on cultural significance with events like Alibaba’s annual Singles’ Day, they’ve only started to gain traction in the U.S. and other Western countries. QVC and HSN have existed for nearly 40 years, but the nationwide quarantine in 2020 pushed brands to work with new livestream formats like Instagram and Facebook Live. Recently, brands like Beautycounter, Dermalogica and personal care brand Blume have invested in livestream shopping.

“A lot of brands are seeing the data, sales numbers and power of what’s been happening in China [with livestream shopping],” said Madison Schill, head of communications at Livescale, a livestream shopping software company that has worked with Urban Decay and Lancôme. “Livestreaming in China came to be as a result of the SARS epidemic. What is happening now is a reflection of that past, [with the West] adopting this new experience and becoming a new sales channel for brands.”

When Avon first held its representative livestream shopping events, the company wanted to vet its receptivity and engagement, said Sigala. The event consisted of a happy hour with a DJ, prizes and giveaways before every session. People could shop throughout the program’s duration, and there were direct-response moments for exclusive products and new launches. During the second representative event, Avon offered two bundles for $60 and $100. (The first event only had the $60 option.) It experienced a 26% average increase in order sales, compared to the first event, thanks to the addition of the second offer. Sigala declined to share specific sales figures, but said the first event generated double what the in-person New Orleans event had earned in 2019. The second representative livestream shopping event saw a sales increase of 76%, compared to the first, he said. About 80% of attendees viewed the program on their mobile phones.

“We learned from the first two events that we have to promote it as a watch and shop event. [We need to show] that the reason to coming to a live event is because attendees will be eligible for [contest] drawings, and we will unveil exclusive offers,” said Sigala. “For both representatives and customers, those are the two main reasons why they come.”

In 2021, Avon plans to host two additional representative livestream shopping events and an additional 11 consumer-facing events, given the early events’ sales and engagement results. The calendar of events is geared toward new launches and product innovations, and seasonal campaigns. To keep livestream shopping programming fresh and exciting, Avon is also looking to feature duel hosts and influencer hosts, but it plans to keep the events to about 30 minutes.

“Livestream shopping will definitely be an important tool,” Sigala said. “We want to continue to digitize shopping. We feel very confident that it is [the future of] retail; if we don’t continue to evolve with offering digital services to our representatives, we will fall behind. It’s hopefully what separates us from our competition and is something attractive to future representatives.”

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