Some people call it live shopping. Others refer to it as remote selling. At Parla, we prefer the term live commerce - it’s immediate and all-encompassing.
In essence, they all have the same meaning: selling your product to customers without sharing the same physical space, via their choice of communication - be it video, SMS, WhatsApp or audio. The sales associate might be in the store, while the customer is browsing their phone at a café. Perhaps they’re both at home on a desktop. Whatever the location or medium, the ambition is the same: to interact and transact.
Live commerce: interact + transact using video, SMS or chat
But with the proliferation of terms used to describe a fast-evolving sector like live commerce, comes a host of misconceptions about a brand’s ability to partake in it. The good news is that every brand can - and should - in order to maximise sales opportunities and customer engagement. It’s just a question of dispelling the myths…
Myth 1: “I’m already doing live commerce”
Maybe. But sending a screenshot or static product image by email or WhatsApp, followed by a phone call or web link to take payment, is not live commerce. That initial action lacks a commerce channel; it’s a step towards a potential sale, but the more steps we introduce to a customer’s journey, the more likely they are to not purchase at all. At Parla, we can help transform a disjointed, piecemeal approach into an efficient and automated process that is operated from a single platform but allows a sales associate to communicate using whatever medium - WhatsApp, email, video - the customer prefers.
Design live commerce experiences that include checkout functionality
Let’s say the product in question is a red sweater - does the static image include the price? What happens when the customer asks if it comes in different colours? Will you have to take screenshots of each? How long will it take you to find - and respond to - questions about fabric and fit? This could play out over several chats, over several emails, during which time the customer may lose interest before they’ve even been given the option to pay. Parla’s system brings automation to a fragmented sales process, equips sales associates with every piece of information in one place and the ability to sell with just one click.
Myth 2: “I need to be in a store or have a website to participate in live commerce”
Not true. In a world where remote and hybrid working has become the norm, live commerce gives brands the flexibility to allow their sales staff to work from any location - a store, their home, a co-working space - without compromising on service and conversion.
According to a recent article by The Business of Fashion, it is live commerce technology that will allow associates to do their jobs remotely. In addition to flexibility, Parla’s single platform pulls together all the tools needed to do that. Imagine a customer - Alex - wants to buy a sofa and schedules an appointment with you via your website. Most live commerce platforms require you to have your inventory already set up on an existing ecommerce site. At Parla, if you don’t, we can give you the infrastructure for live commerce via a [yourbrand].parla site. Alex then receives a video link for the allotted time, which can be accessed on any device - there’s no need to download an app. As the call starts, Alex isn’t sure if he can pull off a patterned sofa so you introduce an image and video from your social accounts for context and to bring the inventory to life. By the way, the image you showed Alex has the sofa merchandised with a side table and lamp, which Alex loves – you’ve just increased your average order value.
In addition, you can access Alex’s shopping history and behaviour (Alex bought an armchair two months ago) because it lives in your CRM - not WhatsApp - so that vital information is recorded, analysed and used efficiently. And the more data you gather across your customer base, the greater your ability to identify trends: customers who buy the herringbone weave sofa often buy the brushed cotton cushions.
Crucially, everything being shown can be clicked on and purchased immediately - there is no need to send a follow-up link or make a follow-up call. If the sales associate is in the store and using a tablet to give the customer a virtual tour, every physical item’s barcode or QR code can be scanned making it available for immediate purchase.
Create live commerce workflows that are easy for your sales team to adopt and use
Myth 3: Live commerce is just video
False. Since Covid-19, video has boomed to become the leading medium of live commerce, with live streaming particularly influential via social media platforms. But to give video such a high status is to ignore the importance of a multichannel and omnichannel approach. If your customer wants to talk to you on SMS or WhatsApp or video - and they also want to flip between these platforms - you have to give them the option.
For example, if the customer discovers a new moisturiser over a video call, asks follow up questions about its ingredients on SMS and then comes into the store to try it on their skin, these interactions need to be connected because, for the customer, there is no start and stop as they move from one location to another - they want a seamless journey. With Parla, this connected conversation can be accessed by every sales associate in the business so that the customer in question always receives personalised service. Limiting customer engagement to one medium ignores the existing - and growing - omnichannel behaviour of most customers today.
We hear from so many brands of their customers’ appreciation for the uninterrupted attention live commerce offers, outside a physical, face-to-face environment. This is because the technology can take personalization from niche to mainstream, making every customer feel special. The biggest strength of live commerce is no myth: customers love it.