Member Perspective: Next-Level Commerce

Advantage Unified Commerce's India Lott and Kelly Ravestijn take a look at the evolution of live selling and interactive shopping.
p2pi advantage unified commerce auc
India Lott, VP, strategic planning, Advantage Unified Commerce (AUC)

From the door-to-door vacuum salesmanof the 1950s and 1960s, to the 1980s-1990s heyday of cable shopping channels, to the live commerce happening today on social media, consumers have always been willing to engage with a sales pitch.

Although QVC and HSN are still going strong, in 2023 live and interactive selling occurs primarily on social media platforms. It is evolving in ways brands and retailers have yet to fully recognize. We define the live shopping category as showcasing your product through livestreams and allowing customers to ask questions and purchase in real time. As consumers seek greater convenience, a return to in-store prominence and new ways to use technology to shop, live shopping is poised for transformative growth.

This latest iteration of interactive shopping on social media is a tactic that first gained traction in 2021 in China, pulling in an estimated $300 billion in revenue. Those numbers are backed up by analysts that predict live shopping sales might make up 20% of all e-commerce sales by 2026. Additionally, the livestream e-commerce market is predicted to reach $35 billion in 2024, which is a threefold increase from 2021.

Although now is the time for U.S. brands and retailers to up their live-selling game, some of their live tactics are lagging. One reason could be that consumer shopping has evolved faster in China than in the U.S. Live selling in China is treated like an event — complete with intricate production sets, live music, sound effects and New Year’s Eve-type countdowns to the start of shopping events.

The U.S. hasn’t picked up on that, which is ironic given how Americans love a spectacle. Once retailers and brands dedicate the time and resources to building an interactive shopping platform that’s exciting and fun, then we will see success in the U.S.

Live-shopping success is not simply a matter of shifting resources. It should be viewed as another platform you need to promote and drive traffic toward. In the same manner the budget is allocated across media channels, that needs to be done with interactive shopping as well. Consumers want convenience, and brands need to shift their strategy to address it. Creating an exceptional customer experience is key.

Some brands are encouraging “window shopping” with QR codes that let consumers purchase while on the go. Consider how recently shoppers in New York were able to purchase products right from store windows. TalkShopLive included a live feed and QR code that allowed shoppers to access products from the street in real time for purchase.

The rise of interactive commerce might raise concerns from retailers, but ultimately they are mostly concerned with their bottom line. The goal shouldn’t necessarily be to bring consumers back into physical stores, but to provide them with a seamless shopping experience — whether in store, online or on a livestreaming platform. This is necessary to drive brand loyalty. Having the ability to purchase via a QR code while walking down the street is simple and easy, as opposed to entering a store, searching for the product, waiting in line and finally completing the purchase. Shopping has evolved, and if retailers want to keep up, they must also evolve also. Live shopping via QR codes is just the latest evolution

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Kelly Ravestijn, SVP of strategic planning, AUC

What About The Metaverse?

How the metaverse will influence shopping, retailers, and brands is still TBD. But it's clear since the metaverse was created to mimic the real world for consumers, brands need to invest in the creation of their own experience that best represents their brand — something that videos or images alone cannot accomplish.

Leveraging the metaverse will take time for some because it is not easily accessible to everyone due to the investment size needed to efficiently utilize this new space. Those large brands already diving in are using it as an extension of their current shopping experience. Creating an environment like being in the store, while sitting on your couch in the comfort of your home, will certainly entice shoppers to peruse the metaverse storefront more often than not.

Best Practices


If you are CMO at a brand or retailer, here are a few things you should be considering as you begin contemplating investment in live shopping on social, QR code window shopping, and/or the metaverse this year:

  • Ensure it is a seamless experience for shoppers: As we’ve learned over the last several years, brands and marketers who master the omnichannel experience are the ones that succeed.
  • Make it an event: Consumers love a grand production, so get them excited to tune in to your live selling "event." That means investing money in sets, professional camera crews, music, effects and professional hosts or influencers to plug your wares. Also, offering specialty items that are only available during the event will help drive traffic.
  • Remember window shoppers: Forget having to step foot in the store after strolling by a window display. Let shoppers purchase live directly from store windows via QR codes.
  • In-store but make it digital: Interactive shopping emphasizes experiences and convenience. What better place to combine the two than Web3 and the metaverse? The metaverse can help brands build loyalty by creating opportunities to craft interactive experiences beyond just transactional ones.

Remember, that knock on the door is not coming from a traveling salesman, but from your customers who are ready to buy from their couch. It’s time to answer the door and invest in new ways to enter consumers’ homes via technology.

About the Authors

India Lott is vice president, strategic planning, at Advantage Unified Commerce (AUC). She is a senior marketing executive with more than 15 years of experience in digital marketing, with an emphasis on elevating external client and internal corporate business performance.

As senior vice president of strategic planning at AUC, Kelly Ravestijn is responsible for strategic leadership across key accounts and the development of the agency’s strategy team. Before joining AUC, Kelly worked for shopper marketing and brand advertising agencies in New Orleans, Dallas, and New York across CPG and retail.