Facebook will shut down QVC-style live shopping on October 1, according to reports. The move comes after similar reports from TikTok last month, which also reported that TikTok had abandoned its livestreaming plans both in the U.S.A and internationally.
These moves may appear surprising from first sight, but they are not unexpected. It is all about language.
Although livestreaming and shoppable videos are not the same, they have often been confused over the years.
Livestreaming is its worst enemy, to use a common phrase. Whenever someone says, “livestream shopping,” people immediately create a mental picture in their heads of a digital-based commerce experience that works and acts much in the same way as QVC
The problem with that analogy though is that the U.S. market, primarily by way of one’s mobile phone, doesn’t work that way. Social media apps are not for commercial use, as they were in China.
As Firework CEO Vincent Yang recently remarked in a recent podcast, the overwhelming majority of commerce in the U.S., well over 90%, still happens by way of retailers’ or brands’ own websites and not through social media apps like Facebook or TikTok. Omni Talk is currently working with Firework to provide a live streaming video platform for retailersany.
The discussion now turns to shoppable footage.
Shoppable videos are, in some ways, more than livestreaming shopping. Shoppable videos can include any type of recorded video or video which allows for commerce. It could be a video within a product detail page on a website, a recorded video within someone’s social media feed, or even an actual live video streamed within Instagram Reels.
When talking about the U.S. Market, the most important element is the fact that they are all videos. They were captured and captured in different ways.
With so much traffic going to retailers’ and brands’ own websites, it makes intuitive sense that the originating spot for any videos, whether livestreamed or recorded, be the retailers’ or brands’ own websites themselves. You have a lot more freedom to target the market with this approach.
For example, take this shoppable video. (A screenshot of it is also below). It appears on the Fresh Market’s homepage. This video is a wonderful example of the previous point.
The video, while shot as a livestream initially, now lives on in perpetuity as a replayable video that greets every visitor to the Fresh Market’s home page, which no doubt gets far more traffic on an average day than say the Fresh Market’s own Facebook or Twitter pages.
It’s possible to also share the same video via social media, or even by Fresh Market (as I just showed). The video’s products can be viewed from the right side of your screen.
What this example illustrates is that the Fresh Market is getting the best of all worlds by thinking “shoppable video” before “livestreaming.”
Fresh Market does not tie its livestream activity with a social media platform such as Instagram or TikTok. Instead, it produces the shoppable content it creates and distributes it to whatever platforms have the best ROI.
It is an approach that is right in line with how U.S. consumers think about and consume media, which brings up one final important question – what does all this mean for Facebook and TikTok financially?
This implies that U.S. consumers will consume shoppable videos, and not livestreaming. It is clear that Facebook and TikTok made the right decision and have appropriately skewed to the direction the puck is heading.
And that puck appears to be headed in a very similar direction to how commerce in general is conducted via social media apps within the U.S. already – i.e. By offering a cut of or a percentage of sales of products people view in their social media feeds.
Are they able to reach as many people as Facebook and TikTok imagined when they started their livestreaming efforts?
Most likely not.
Even though it is only a tiny fraction of what brands and retailers make from their videos, this still amounts to significant incremental revenue over the long-term.
Important Disclaimer — Firework is a current client of the author’s media company, Omni Talk.