Live shopping is becoming increasingly popular for brands to directly engage with customers in real time. By broadcasting live video streams and interacting with viewers through chat and polls, brands can provide personalized shopping experiences that feel more authentic and interactive than traditional e-commerce. Integrating artificial intelligence (AI) into your live shopping strategy can take […]
The retail landscape is rapidly shifting. While brick-and-mortar stores once dominated, e-commerce now accounts for over 10% of all retail sales. Consumer preferences are changing as technology enables new shopping experiences. For event managers, this means rethinking live shopping events to remain relevant.
This article will explore how the rise of e-commerce is impacting live shopping, key trends event managers should know, and strategies to create memorable live shopping experiences in the digital era. Whether adapting product launches, pop-up shops, or brand activations, event pros can utilize livestreaming, social media, and experiential elements to attract attendees. As live shopping integrates with e-commerce, event teams can provide value by curating engaging branded encounters.
The Growth of E-commerce
The data is clear – e-commerce is booming. According to Digital Commerce 360, US online retail sales grew by over 44% in 2020, reaching $861 billion. The pandemic accelerated the adoption of e-commerce as consumers moved online for safety and convenience.
For event managers, this shift can seem concerning. As e-commerce grows, what value do in-person shopping events provide? The good news is live shopping remains relevant by offering experiences digital channels cannot replicate. Though the landscape is changing, live events provide opportunities for brands to connect with consumers in meaningful ways.
Key Live Shopping Trends
Though e-commerce is rising, live shopping persists as an impactful marketing channel. Here are some trends for event pros to note:
- Livestreaming – Brands are increasingly livestreaming shopping events to engage digital audiences. Platforms like Shopify, Instagram, and TikTok enable live selling.
- Experiential Activations – Pop-up shops, brand events, and retailtainment offer multisensory, interactive experiences that build brand love.
- Social Media Integration – Shoppable live streams and social content turn events into viral marketing moments. Hashtags drive discovery beyond physical attendees.
- Localization – To complement e-commerce, live events are becoming hyper-local immersive experiences instead of massive trade shows.
- Hybrid Model – Many brands adopt a phygital strategy, blending physical and digital retail across online stores, brick-and-mortar, and live events.
Each trend aims to enrich the customer journey before, during, and after live events. Keeping pace requires event teams to think omnichannel.
Livestreaming Shopping Events
Livestream selling is a significant opportunity for event profs. According to Coresight Research, US livestreaming commerce could reach $25 billion by 2023. Platforms like Shopify, Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, and more enable real-time selling through live video.
For product launches or brand activations, event teams can incorporate live shopping. Benefits include:
- Increased reach – Livestreams extend events digitally to e-commerce customers.
- Engaging format – Live video builds excitement and interactivity. Viewers feel connected.
- Data insights – Digital tools provide data on viewers and sales conversions.
- Seamless checkout – Platforms like Shopify enable one-click buying without leaving the stream.
- Personalization – Brands can answer questions and offer special promos in real-time.
When staging live shopping events, ensure the production quality is polished, and sound/lighting enables clear viewing of products. Share discount codes on-screen and verbally to boost purchases—time-limited-quantity flash sales during the stream to prompt buying urgently.
Curating Shareable Moments
Beyond live selling, brands should develop live events that cultivate shareable moments. Instagrammable pop-ups and immersive brand activations inspire social sharing and user-generated content.
Event teams can encourage social buzz before, during, and after live shopping events:
- Pre-event teasers – Share sneak peeks and behind-the-scenes images on social media to build anticipation.
- Hashtag – Create and promote a branded hashtag across signs and display materials onsite.
- Photogenic design – Incorporate bold, eye-catching visuals and displays that make great backdrops for social photos and selfies.
- Engaging programming – Unique experiences like product demos, workshops, or special meet-and-greets drive social chatter.
- Curated takeaways – Provide attendees with shareable branded items and photo props like custom t-shirts, memorable signage, or a specific product to unbox on social.
- Post-event highlights – Share photos from the event and re-promote the hashtag to continue the momentum.
Integrating social sharing seamlessly blends live shopping with e-commerce discovery. User-generated event content magnifies the brand across digital channels.
Local Experiential Activations
Rather than massive trade shows, live shopping is becoming hyperlocal. Brands create experiences like pop-ups explicitly tailored to certain cities or communities. Benefits of localization include:
- Immersive experiences that resonate with local audiences based on preferences and trends.
- Added convenience by bringing experiences directly to e-commerce customers.
- Opportunities to partner with local businesses, influencers, or community groups.
- Ability to test concepts before scaling to additional markets.
When activating locally, ensure the pop-up or brand event aligns with the region. Work with neighbourhood partners to co-create programming. Curate any retail offerings to products that will appeal to locals. Share photos highlighting local flair, like city landmarks or notable residents enjoying the experience.
Turnkey solutions like PopPlaces enable quick deployment of local pop-ups. Event teams handle logistics while the brand focuses on engaging experiences that humanize the brand and drive sales.
Blending Online with Offline
Rather than an either/or approach, innovative brands blend digital and physical retail for a phygital strategy. E-commerce enables endless aisles, while live shopping drives experiential engagement.
Examples of phygital integration include:
- Click-and-collect – Consumers buy online and pick up in-store or at events.
- Endless aisle kiosks – Browsing physical products triggers e-commerce order delivery.
- QR codes onsite – Scanning codes provide access to expanded product ranges or special promotions.
- Virtual try-on – Virtual mirrors let shoppers digitally try different product variations at live events.
- Omnichannel CRM – Unified data and personalized cross-channel experiences.
A unified approach eliminates channel silos. Live shopping events act as a gateway to online storefronts. E-commerce purchasers enjoy preferential access to limited-edition physical events.
This phygital strategy provides a modern shopping journey.
For professional event managers, e-commerce requires reimagining live shopping activations. However, in-person retail experiences remain vital. Emerging best practices include:
- Incorporating livestream selling into events to reach broader audiences.
- Designing photogenic, shareable event experiences that inspire social promotion.
- Localizing immersive retail pop-ups explicitly tailored to specific markets.
- Blending physical and digital across channels for omnichannel commerce.
Though the retail landscape is evolving, live shopping persists in importance. Event pros add value that digital channels alone cannot deliver by providing multisensory, branded encounters. With strategic adaptation, live retail events can integrate seamlessly with e-commerce to drive sales and customer loyalty.
E-commerce is growing, but so are opportunities to creatively reinvent live shopping. Event teams must stay nimble, leveraging emerging platforms and retail trends. Unique in-person brand experiences will remain meaningful touchpoints in the customer journey.
For professional event planners, the key is adding value that online cannot replicate. Curate moments that engage the senses build community, and form emotional connections with the brand. Blend digital tools to augment and extend real-life events. Through memorable live shopping activations, event pros can retain relevance and drive results in the age of e-commerce.