“We are streaming everything these days: Netflix, our news, exciting videos, and even our workouts,” said Melanie Nelson, director of channel management for BrandJump.
Over the past 18 months, everyone has learned how to use Zoom, even those who are not technically savvy. The result is we are all comfortable streaming. And shopping events using live streaming are poised to become even more prevalent in the future. Live stream shopping delivers an interactive experience for businesses to promote and sell products; and for consumers to participate by asking questions and purchase goods during the event.
“Live stream shopping events have become a popular way for customers to make purchases while properly abiding by health guidelines like social distancing, and [they] give stores an avenue to create something as similar to the in-person experience as possible,” said Margo Kahnrose, chief marketing officer for Kenshoo.
There are multiple methods for live stream shopping including webinars, online training, virtual meetups, podcasts, and more. Today I want to discuss two that are highly relevant for those selling at the wholesale or retail level:
Virtual Summits or Conferences
Virtual Summits or Conferences can include multiple speakers and have breakout sessions. Typically, speakers will present a topic to multiple attendees simultaneously. Afterwards there may be a question and answer session that allows for two-way communication between the speaker and the attendees over audio/video in real-time.
Virtual Trade Shows
Physical conferences have exhibits and shows for companies to demonstrate their latest products and services. Attendees visit a booth and talk to a representative one-on-one. Now over a virtual format, you can have online sessions and on-demand video content to educate your prospects. You can provide attendees with an option to download presentation and marketing collateral. Virtual trade shows facilitate direct interactions between exhibitors and attendees with interactive features to pitch your products such as virtual booths, Q&A, webinars, webcasts and more.
What both of these items have in common of course is the ability for companies to live stream their content to customers, and for the customer to ask questions. Better still is when you combine both a virtual summit or conference with a virtual trade show, giving companies the ability to sell both to groups and individuals. Pair that with the ability to track every visitor who comes to a virtual show so you know exactly what actions they took during the virtual event along with a link to an ecommerce store and you have one of the most powerful tools to come about as a result of the pandemic.
The problem is that most virtual events only do one aspect of what I just mentioned. The do a virtual summit or conference, but don’t provide tracking or ecommerce. Simply putting up an ecommerce website doesn’t automatically generate traffic, and while participating in a virtual summit can be great exposure, leaving the summit to go buy something is not in the best interest of the summit producer (they want to keep you on their site), so it is up to you to convince a customer during your presentation that they need to go do a search for your website.
The same is true with a virtual trade show. Most virtual trade shows are set up to stream pre-recorded video content and have breakout webinars, but they don’t duplicate physical shows with one-on-one video chats. And even though it is technically possible to track what actions a visitor takes when visiting a virtual booth, they still request that an exhibitor collect their own leads. Trade shows are a way for exhibitors to sell products, so why not build ecommerce right into the virtual event.
A great place to look for inspiration is QVC Online. QVC live streams content and does the best job of demonstrating products live. They don’t allow you to interact with the presenter, but as far as demonstrating products via a live stream, they are the ones to emulate.
Event professionals say that the future of events is hybrid. To think that virtual attendance won’t continue after the crisis ends is naive at best. We now know the benefits of attending online events. Traveling for thousands of miles is a waste of resources and money few will be able to afford. This is why going forward we are sure to to have a prevalent online component for the foreseeable future.
That means that as we come out of the pandemic, events will be smaller than in the past as we incorporate both physical attendees while live streaming to virtual attendees at the same time. With a hybrid event, content must be optimized so that the same social and learning experience is offered both in-person and virtually.
Summits and conferences can certainly allow a speaker to address both a physical and a virtual audience – we’ve seen how this can be done with shows like American Idol and the Voice on TV. Hybrid trade shows will be more challenging as you are trying to run a physical and a virtual booth simultaneously as this may require additional staff.
Interesting times are ahead. And with interesting times means opportunity. At WebStores Ltd, we are working on developing virtual and hybrid trade show platforms to allow for ecommerce to occur as a result of live streaming your content. We are continuing to learn how to make this more efficient for you to conduct business online. Here’s a video explaining what we are up to:
How do you plan to adapt? I’d love to hear your thoughts.