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LiveBuy: “Live shopping makes online shopping less lonely”

By Regina Henkel

Mar 23, 2022

Business |Interview

Alex von Harsdorf. Photo: LiveBuy

Online shopping has been growing for years, but is it fun? Live shopping specialist LiveBuy from Berlin doubts this and wants to help online retailers conquer a new sales channel with live streaming, which turns shopping on screen into an event.

In China, live shopping is already a mass phenomenon. Chinese live shopping superstars like Viya and Austin Li Jiaqi sell goods worth several billion US dollars within a few hours live on TaoBao. Now online sales campaigns via livestream are also picking up speed elsewhere. LiveBuy from Berlin is right at the forefront. Launched two years ago, its customer base already includes brands like Douglas, Sheego, Tamaris and Kadewe - Douglas already broadcasts daily. Founder Alex von Harsdorf explains what the special opportunities of the new channel are and how the tech start-up helps customers to better exploit the potential of online retail.

What exactly does LiveBuy do? How do you support a retailer or brand?

If we’re honest - and now with the pandemic we all know this feeling quite well - there is no online “shopping” in the true sense of the word, but only need fulfilment online. There is no real browsing, no inspiration; all this cannot be realised online like in brick and mortar store. That is exactly our approach. We want to increase the joy of online shopping and support our customers in implementing live shopping. In essence, this means that we provide the technology to enable live shopping in a brand’s own shop or in combination with other online retailers. Basically, all you need is a smartphone.

Why do you think live shopping has a future in Germany?

The big role model is China. There, shopping live from one’s smartphone is already big and has leapfrogged QVC, so to speak. There, 20 percent of online retail already takes place via live shopping, and the trend is rising. All this has only established itself within the last five to six years. Live shopping is the future of online retail.

Online retailers have so many opportunities to get in touch with their customers, to talk about their products. It's not just about doing live shopping with influencers, but also the CEOs or the designers. It's about telling the story behind the product, and the companies themselves can do that very well. It's the opposite of glossy, it's authentic and much more credible. For viewers, that is the most interesting.

Photo: LiveBuy

Live shopping still has an image problem in some parts of the world, you have already mentioned QVC. How do you want to change that?

It depends on the target group. The idea is to sell products via moving images, but live. And that means you experience it together and it's interactive, that's a big difference. All viewers can participate, can ask questions, give suggestions, can give each other tips. Everyone gets a seat in the front row. Live shopping has taken on a game character, and retailers know exactly who is watching.

Which brands and retailers are already using live shopping?

In Germany we are still at the beginning. But retailers like Douglas, for example, already broadcast every day. Other customers who already broadcast regularly include Tamaris, Sheego, Eterna, Kadewe and Impressionen.

How does live shopping benefit sales? What sales figures can one expect?

We already reach up to five-figure viewer numbers, but it's not yet the case that millions are converted within minutes. The conversion rate is between 10 and 30 percent, in some cases even higher. During the one hour that an event is live, 40 percent of the daily turnover is generated. That means it is extremely well received among viewers. Customers also buy more often and visit the webshop more often, they build up a relationship. Success also depends on how aggressively the event is promoted and how it is presented on the website.

In your experience, live shopping is suitable for whom?

Before racking one’s brains too much, the goal should always be to stream regularly. That's the crime show principle, every Sunday night. If every show has to be marketed as a single event, it can quickly become expensive. If, on the other hand, I manage to stream regularly at the same time, customers can adjust to that. From there, one can expand if one wants to. With LiveBuy, you even have the choice of broadcasting the content in your own online shop or on connected retailer or marketplace sites - for more reach.

What is the best way to get started?

That would be my second tip: You don't have to reinvent the wheel. It makes sense to start the service with a new campaign and then maintain it every season, whenever new collections come out. ‘Behind the Scenes’ is also suitable as a theme, or you explain processes, the production, introduce people. There is so much to tell, so much more than just showing a garment on the hanger. All this is nothing new, it's just a new channel. And it is much more authentic than glossy magazines. This is especially important for the younger target group who want to understand better how the product came about.

How do you get paid? And do you also extend a brand’s or retailer’s reach?

We provide the infrastructure, consisting of a video feed for the shop frontend - which enables swipe browsing similar to Tiktok - a creator app, a dashboard and hosting. Payment is per view. So there's no monthly fee, it's paid by the number of views. We are currently working on taking care of the reach as well. Firstly via live banner ads, and secondly via Instagram, but without the shopping function there. This is called simulcasting, i.e. simultaneous broadcasting via several platforms.

Photo: LiveBuy

How did you come up with the idea for LiveBuy?

My partners and I have established other companies before. Our goal was to make online shopping less lonely and more fun. In the 2010s, we observed the trend in Asia and shared the belief that online shopping could be much improved.

Then in March/April 2020 we put all our eggs in one basket, interestingly enough in the middle of the pandemic. In August we founded LiveBuy, and in October the first live shopping took place at Douglas. Since then, we have broadcast almost 1,500 livestreams and have 17 employees spread all over Europe. We work fully remotely, we just kept that from the founding phase when everyone worked from home.

Did you already see much more live shopping as part of the Christmas business than the previous year?

Absolutely! We are now seeing many many more brands and higher viewership. Live shopping is a phenomenon that is starting now. The more people join in, the more it moves into customers' everyday lives, the more it becomes a trend.

This article was originally published on FashionUnited.de. Edited and translated by Simone Preuss.

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