A personal touch in e-commerce: The lowdown on live selling according to CommentSold

By Ravyn Cullor contact

- Last updated on GMT

© Getty Images - Phynart Studio
© Getty Images - Phynart Studio

Related tags: e-commerce, social commerce, beauty tech, digital, retail

E-commerce took off in the US during the pandemic, but the beauty retail giant of China might be the next hot retail environment in the West.

Live selling, or showcasing and selling products through a livestream video, is a relatively small part of the US retail market, but Chief Product Officer at live selling partner CommentSold Andrew Chen told CosmeticsDesign there is significant growth potential.

Chen said McKinsey research projects live selling will grow from an $11 billion market to a $35 billion market between 2022 and 2024. But that estimate is dwarfed by the $480 billion live selling market in China, which is expected to continue growing.

With the growth of both e-commerce and social media engagement, Chen said live selling is well positioned to meet consumer demands in retail today.

“E-commerce is becoming bigger and bigger, but people still want that personal engagement,” ​Chen said. “They still want that ability to trust the person is selling you something that is a quality product, something that's right for you and that people are looking for that.”

Within personal care itself, Chen said live selling can allow consumers to find influencers who have similar skin tones, interests or desires to direct them to products online.

What the US can learn from China

While live selling is a blossoming retail environment in the US, Chen said brands can learn from China’s booming market to build out a successful model.

One of the major takeaways for American brands can be what happens during live selling events. Unlike a traditional e-commerce space, a large portion of a live selling session may have nothing to do with the products themselves, Chen said.

For example, in 2021 one popular livestreamer, Austin Li Jiaqi, also known as the “lipstick king” made $1.7 billion in sales in 12 hours​. Chen said often times in successful livestreams the seller on camera will spend significant time talking about their day and letting viewers in on their life.

This part of the live selling experience is about relationship building between the livestreamer and consumers, he said.

“The key to unlocking live selling is making sure that you've got a really good person behind the camera or set of people behind the camera who can really engage and build that relationship with your shoppers,”​ Chen said.

Benefit of live selling in the US market

For beauty brands specifically, Chen said live selling can be a powerful tool in the US to target and engage with the specific groups they’re hoping to sell to.

Unlike products like clothing which a consumer could see and get a good understanding of in a traditional e-commerce environment, beauty products have a broad range of tactile characteristics which a trusted influencer or creator can describe and entice consumers in live selling.

Essentially, Chen said live selling can help bridge the gap between the highly personal interactions consumers can have buying beauty products in-store and the digital environment of e-commerce.

On top of filling in e-commerce’s gaps in personal engagement, he said their top live selling shops see consumers returning to buy products many times a month.

“Having been part of traditional e-commerce brands and retailers, how many times do consumers buy from you?”​ Chen said. “You've got live sellers who have people coming back five times a month to buy products. That kind of retention and engagement only happens when people truly love you and want to follow you.”

However, Chen said the infrastructure for a live selling site is complicated and working with a partner like CommentSold can be important in launching and maintaining a live selling site, unless a company is ready to commit to an engineering department.

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