When the pandemic hit the world and lockdowns were subsequently implemented, people were pushed to shop online despite initial misgivings. Many users still felt uneasy for a variety of reasons. Those who were seldom online were afraid because of their lack of technical knowledge and experience with computers. Seniors living alone were especially hesitant to try. For the more tech-savvy, they were fearful of identity thefts, elaborate scams, sensitive data collection, credit card mishaps, and non-secure websites. However, shoppers were eventually left with no choice, forced to buy necessities using credit cards and virtual wallets on websites that were still up and running during the initial weeks of forced isolation. Both buyers and sellers had to become more vigilant in protecting themselves from scammers.
As restrictions eventually eased, more and more consumers discovered the convenience of purchasing online. E-commerce giants Shopee and Lazada increased their presence in various countries to meet increased demand, instituting safeguards to protect their sellers from various threats. Online stores multiplied and even utilized social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram just to sell. To maximize these platforms and gain new followers with the goal of converting them into customers, sellers resorted to live selling.
What is Live Selling?
In the late 1970s, the innovative concept of shopping without leaving the house was introduced. Talk show host Bob Circosta successfully sold can openers while he was live, on the air. He eventually grew the home TV shopping industry into a multi-billion business. Couch potatoes from all over enjoyed this new experience. Whenever they saw a product they liked on the TV, they could just dial the number flashing on the screen to call in and place an order for that item, which would then be delivered to their houses in the next few days. It was that simple!
The 1980s increased the number of channels promoting home TV shopping. Huge retail outlets bought expensive air time to join in, and popular actors and actresses were roped in to target their fans. By the 1990s, home TV shopping penetrated TV sets from all over the world! At that time, a lot of the content shown in other countries was derived from sources in the US and then translated for an international market. Soon, other countries began developing their own content as well as tapping local celebrities.
From cookware to gym equipment to appliances and gadgets, the products offered on these shows catered to a wide variety of shoppers. They were often available for a limited time only, which fostered a sense of urgency among viewers. Infomercials would star well-known personalities as living testimonials to the products they were endorsing. Throw in some exclusive but time-bound freebies, and the complete recipe to lure unsuspecting channel surfers into spending was concocted, refined, and multiplied.
Nowadays, one need not be a celebrity to host a selling program. Ordinary people who want to sell can capitalize on both their personalities and environment to produce shows that are appealing and engaging. With current technological advancements, sellers are able to use built-in cameras in their laptops or phones to focus on their wares. All sorts of apps allow the regular person to learn how to produce videos with excellent production values. Live selling has replaced home TV shopping in the consciousness of shoppers.
Live Selling is an invaluable tool in assisting retailers. Now, sellers are able to display their products and show different angles, broadcasting in front of a live online audience who can purchase on the spot. Some platforms feature tags to help categorize products, and timestamps are used to validate first dibbers – shoppers who, ahead of all others, signified their intention to purchase a particular product. Sellers also use product codes, which are standardized across countries.
The pandemic convinced many retailers and shoppers to give digital platforms a try. Marketing strategies shifted to accommodate selling via social media and live streaming. Even courses online were created to address the desire of students to learn more about utilizing cyberspace in everyday life. A noticeable increase in live selling was reported during the latter part of the pandemic’s first year, and it continues to thrive to this day.
Why Live Selling is Thriving
There are 3 key components in driving customers to a particular seller via live selling. The first is credibility. “To see is to believe.” Selling in real time goes one step further compared to just scrolling through pictures online. Live selling empowers customers who can see the actual product they’re paying for, and they can ask questions on the spot, receiving answers directly from the expert instead of an outsourced customer service team. It also enhances the seller’s engagement as he is able to demonstrate how a product is used, and he can communicate directly with his audience. Employing the same tactic in auctions, the added competition among customers nudges them to buy right away for fear of missing out because of limited supplies. There is also a rush in beating out another viewer who is interested in the same product.
Accountability is very much present, which is advantageous to buyers since many viewers also serve as witnesses to deals closed during the live selling session. Sellers are forced to be honest with the condition of products like damages and stains, including the severity of these imperfections. It is also a win for the seller, with viewers who can vouch for him, as other audience members end up acting as living testimonials for either the product being shown or the store and seller.
Accessibility is another consideration; similar to home TV shopping, customers do not need to deal with traffic and difficult commuting situations like falling in line for long periods of time. They don’t need to squeeze themselves inside stores jam-packed with other customers who enjoy bargains and deals. With just one push of a button, viewers are treated to a relaxing experience while shopping from the comforts of their own homes. They can even eat while watching and participating in a sale!
Live selling has changed the landscape of e-commerce and business as a whole. However, threats to live selling still abound from various sources. Strict rules close down online stores whose sellers aren’t thorough in learning what is and is not allowed. In countries where blackouts are rampant and Internet connectivity is unstable, live selling is either disrupted or abruptly cut short whenever the Internet slows down or power is lost. Some social media platforms altered several functions and features. For example, with the impending removal of Facebook’s live shopping feature, sellers are scrambling for alternatives to continue selling online. Fortunately, Tiktok has emerged as a game-changer when it comes to increasing sales.
What is TikTok?
TikTok is a social media app that gained so much popularity recently, with 1 billion monthly users around the globe! TikTok lets its users create, edit, watch, and share 15-second videos. Background music, sound effects, filters, and stickers can also be added to improve these videos and make them look more professional.
It’s interesting to look back at the history of TikTok and where it is today. Originally, Tiktok was a channel for creativity that encouraged content creators to provide entertainment, usually comedic in nature, to an audience eager for amusement. Eventually, TikTok evolved to include infotainment, with creators producing videos to inform, teach, and advise. Because of its short-form nature, influencers, along with their millions of followers, have decided to migrate to TikTok. Sellers have followed suit with the recent introduction of TikTok Shop.
What is TikTok Shop?
TikTok Shop is a feature available in select countries like Indonesia, the United Kingdom, the Philippines, Singapore, Vietnam, Thailand, and Malaysia, which allows retailers to sell products directly using the app. Together with TikTok For Business, a seller can build awareness for his products, driving sales up. Built-in resources include easy-to-digest guides to make the transition to TikTok Shop as painless as possible and unlimited access to an extensive royalty-free music library, among others. Also, Shopify has integrated with TikTok, so sellers download the TikTok Shopify app to complement the experience.
Visiting TikTok Shop is very convenient for TikTok users as they can buy the products they see on a seller’s live streams without having to leave the TikTok app. Fortunately, it’s very easy to set up your own TikTok Shop:
1. Begin by downloading the TikTok app from either the Google Play store or the Apple store. After the app is installed on your phone, open it and register by tapping on “Me” and then “Sign Up.”
2. Once you’ve registered on TikTok, create a free TikTok Business Account by clicking on the three dots at the top of the “Me” page, then on “Manage Account” and “Switch to Business Account.” Select the category for your business.
3. Now that your TikTok Business Account is set up, go to the TikTok Shop Seller Center and choose your region. Enter the portal and fill out the form. Once you’re registered, send in the required documents, link your bank account, and upload your products. Congratulations! You are now the proud owner of your very own TikTok shop!
Continue to research tips on how to sell effectively on TikTok. Be aware of non-negotiable rules that might derail your selling journey. Following these regulations will ensure your TikTok shop will be around for a very long time to achieve success in the years to come.
With the plentiful reasons cited above on why live selling continues to thrive, it’s a must to go live on your TikTok Shop to increase sales.
Going Live on TikTok Shop
Going live on TikTok Shop means considering the following to set yourself up for success:
1. Check the layout of your store. To get shoppers buying, you need to attract them with your storefront and product showcase. Take pictures with a minimalist background to avoid removing the focus from the stars of your store. Position your products creatively, and play around with your angles. Don’t be stingy in taking pictures; gone are the days when films and developing them put a hole in your pockets. With digital photos, there’s no excuse to limit the options you can provide yourself when choosing which ones to upload.
2. Promote and advertise. Tell your customers, friends, relatives, and even strangers (aka potential shoppers) beforehand you’re going live to sell. Post on social media platforms including TikTok itself to build momentum as your live date approaches. Include the best pictures of your products so people will know what to expect. If you have any promos, detail the rules you have in place to avoid confusion.
3. Rehearse. This will release your anxiety and calm your nerves. While a spontaneous live stream is ideal, it is still essential to come up with a rough outline of how your program will unfold. Use a mirror to gauge how your viewers will see you. Talk and pronounce words properly. Fix your location for proper lighting, and check your audio too before the actual live date. Arrange your products to make them easy to grab and discard without wasting too much of the viewer’s time. Viewers hate having to watch a seller who cannot find a product buried under stocks.
For additional advice, visit Locad’s one-stop guide for everything that you need to know about TikTok shops.
Live selling might not go exactly according to plan on the day you actually go live, so be prepared to improvise whenever needed. Learn from the mistakes you make during your first few live streams. Don’t be too hard on yourself; with practice, you’ll get better at it until you master live selling. Once you scale, outsource logistical needs to fulfillment centers such as Locad. It will be challenging at first, but be prepared to reap the benefits of your hard work once sales start to increase because you regularly go live on TikTok shop.