Facebook rolls out shoppable livestream programming

Covid-19 restrictions are being lifted, meaning more people will be heading back into stores this summer, but Facebook is still betting big on livestream shopping

On Tuesday, the platform announced its Live Shopping Fridays, a three-month program beginning on May 21 showcasing beauty and fashion brands. Every Friday, a new brand will host a live shopping event featuring influencers, experts and product demonstrations. Participating beauty companies include Sephora, Murad, Dermalogica, Clinique, Bobbi Brown and Alleyoop; fashion labels joining will be Abercrombie & Fitch, Dolce Vita and Zox.

“So far, we’ve seen the first early adopters of live shopping come from SMBs [small- and medium-sized businesses],” said Yulie Kwon Kim, director of product management commerce at Facebook. “Live shopping essentially has been a lifeline to them, especially during Covid.” The social platform’s live shopping feature is available to any brand that has a Shop created, and a growing number of major brands have begun to use it. “Now, what we are excited about is that we are increasingly seeing some of the large brands start to experiment with the format.” 

Bobbi Brown, for example, hosted its first shoppable Facebook livestream two weeks ago, featuring a makeup look demonstration by Bobbi Brown pro artist Michele Shakeshaft. As a part of the Live Shopping Fridays program, it will offer more makeup classes by experts including the brand’s makeup artist in residence Nikki DeRoest.

Livestream shopping has taken off among Facebook-owned and other top social platforms in the U.S. Pinterest also recently announced shoppable livestreaming functionality. It will be hosting a livestream event from May 24-26 featuring prominent beauty and fashion figures. Among them are “Queer Eye’s” Jonathan Van Ness, influencer Hannah Bronfman and celebrity makeup artist Erin Parsons.

This comes as a growing number of brands have adopted shoppable Instagram livestreams. Meanwhile, TikTok rolled out its first U.S. shoppable livestream with Walmart in March.

U.S.-based social platforms are taking cues from the China market, where livestreaming is estimated to be worth 1 trillion yuan, or over $150 billion, according to Alibaba and KPMG. The Chinese version of TikTok, Douyin, already offers shoppable livestreaming. 

“If you look at China, for example, a lot of that massive growth of live shopping happened pre-Covid. And it’s because people are increasingly turning to social media for entertainment, in general,” said Kim.  

Beauty brand Alleyoop will be hosting three Facebook livestreams over the course of the summer. The first, on Friday, will feature celebrity makeup artist Chloe Majdipour doing a product demonstration. Giveaways and audience interaction will also be incorporated into the event.

“While pandemic restrictions are being lifted, our community has always shopped Alleyoop primarily online,” said Leila Kashani, founder and CEO of Alleyoop. 

To create awareness about the live shopping events, Facebook will promote them in a dedicated space at the top of the Shops tab on Facebook’s mobile app and within its news feed. Brands’ followers can also mark that they are interested in viewing, in order to receive a reminder when the livestream starts.

Facebook live shopping “removes the middleman between the brand and the customer, like you see on traditional TV shopping,” said Kashani. 

“We’re constantly working on ways to remove friction from discovery to purchase,” said Kim.

According to Kim, even as pandemic restrictions lift and people are less wary of physical stores, the “community aspect” of livestreaming will still attract viewers to live shopping. “You can go into a store  and actually see products. But the thing that you don’t get … is a sense of community, where you can really interact in real-time and learn from each other, too,” she said. 

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