While the QVC model is popular among some fashion brands, Walmart launched a more direct form of live shopping on Tuesday. Similar to Chinese Taobao Live, it focuses on the natural shopping connection between host and consumer.
The partnership with Buywith will allow for social media influencers and content creators based in the U.S. to apply to host live shopping sessions with their followers on Walmart.com. As Walmart is currently in a quiet period ahead of its November 16 earnings release, it was unable to provide an executive quote for this story.
Liel Anisenko, Buywith’s head of marketing, said, “When it comes to Buywith, we actually take the audience on a journey on any e-commerce website. The influencer or the host of the session scrolls through the e-commerce website and takes all the visitors on the journey with them through a video on the ecommerce page. It can be done from a hotel while traveling from home; you don’t need any fancy equipment. The session takes just a few days to set up, so the hosts can simply promote their session on their channels and go ahead with it.”
Zappos previously teamed up with Buywith to promote products through influencer hosts to their followers using the platform. The influencers received a commission on any sales. Anisenko said fashion brands are over-reliant on the QVC model and need to adapt based on the emerging online formats. “The majority of solutions require a lot of setup and a lot of integration,” she said.
In the last year, Walmart has tested many live shopping formats. Its most tech-orientated strategy launched with Facebook (Meta) on Friday, for a campaign called “Joy. Fully.” It encompasses shoppable livestreams, content and an AR lens, allowing consumers to use their facial expressions to pick the products that “spark joy” for them. Starting this month, Walmart will also be part of YouTube’s first livestream shopping experience alongside Samsung and Verizon. In addition, it trialed its first TikTok shopping livestreams earlier this year.
Livestream shopping erupted in the last year as brands looked for more ways to engage increasingly digital-savvy consumers. And the channel is set to grow as a sales driver. In China, the first 30 minutes of Alibaba’s Singles’ Day pre-sale in 2020 generated $7.5 billion in total transaction value on livestream platform Taobao Live.
According to management consulting firm McKinsey, live commerce-initiated sales could account for as much as 10-20% of all e-commerce by 2026. With the growing move toward frictionless online experiences and an expanding pool of micro- and mid-range influencers, brands like Walmart can harness a wide variety of hosts to engage their audiences.