One of the hot new trends in retailing that has been accelerated by the pandemic is virtual selling: livestreaming, in-app purchases on social media sites, clienteling software, and conversational sales. Marrying technology, data mining, and video interactions, retailers in the U.S. are catching up to China and the rest of the world at harvesting a rich new source for consumer research: the brain of individual customers.
For example, department store chain Nordstrom announced in March that it is launching a livestream shopping service. The company said it will host programming such as a styling livestream featuring Burberry products, a seasonal trend happy hour, and an interview with British makeup artist Charlotte Tilbury among other things. Nordstrom said customers will be able to shop the fashion products mentioned that are available on Nordstrom’s website and participate in a live chatroom. In an interview with CNBC, a Nordstrom executive said, “There’s so much opportunity for us to get closer to the customer.”
As it is with so much that’s new in retailing, Amazon was ahead of the pack with its launch in 2019 of Amazon Live, likened to a home shopping network. Social media giants like Facebook and Instagram have ramped up in-app purchasing as well.
Walmart partnered with TikTok on a shoppable live stream experience on the Walmart TikTok channel. Walmart Chief Marketing Officer William White said the event netted seven times more views than anticipated and grew the company’s TikTok followers by 25 percent.