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Shoppertainment: are you not entertained?

The rise of shoppertainment highlights how personalized interactions can help boost sales while also helping brands better connect with consumers.

Changes in consumer behaviour and evolving expectations are challenging the retail industry to adapt to emerging trends around contactless convenience innovations in digital payments. The secret to building customer loyalty in an omnichannel world is widely thought to consist of creating memorable experiences combined with anticipating future behaviours, desires, and values without drifting into creepy territory. But across Asia, it's the integration of shopping and entertainment that is delivering the best results.

Shoppertainment is a new blend of commerce mixed with informative and entertaining content on platforms such as TikTok. Rather than shilling products, users authentically guide shoppers through demonstrations and how they get the most out of an item while answering questions from other users in real-time. The magic occurs when algorithms deliver this personalized content to other users based on their unique interests.

Last year, Taobao Live, Alibaba Group's live streaming channel, reported a 150% increase in sales per year for three years in a row. Live stream shopping is estimated to be worth $70 billion in China. The trend is spreading around the world quickly as businesses wanting to remain competitive once again find themselves struggling to keep up with the pace of technological change.

Live streaming has entered the mainstream

Most people instinctively search online for instructional videos or tutorials to quickly fix a problem. Before making a purchase or booking a holiday, many will also carefully scour through hundreds of online reviews before deciding to complete a purchase. These habits suggest that live stream shopping is also about to enter the mainstream for users searching for a retail experience that is more social and interactive.

Live commerce is grabbing the attention of shoppers around the world for all the right reasons.

The smartphone in our pockets has lowered the technical barriers in a world where we are all content creators. Shoppertainment is leveraging this same technology to tear down more walls to interact with sellers and purchase items directly from them. These experiences are dramatically different from traditional retail.

Retailers cannot afford to ignore how shoppers are tired of constantly being marketed or sold to and want to be entertained before parting with their money. The rise of shoppertainment highlights how personalized interactions and connected experiences can help boost both in-store and online sales while also helping brands better connect with consumers.

The rise of social commerce

If you were to take a quick look on the home screen of almost any smartphone, you will probably find Facebook, WhatsApp, YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter. However, other mobile apps are typically neglected on page 2 of the app list and seldom opened. Social commerce is another industry buzzword to describe sales driven by social media apps, and many believe it represents a massive growth opportunity.

User-generated content (UGC) on social platforms became one of the easiest and effective ways to connect a faceless brand with its followers.

Likes, comments, shares, and opinions of loyal customers quickly became the marketing weapon of choice for businesses.

More recently, the #TikTokMadeMeBuy hashtag highlights the role we can expect social commerce to play in a world where it's consumers who choose to engage with brands on their terms.

Demand for seamless shopping across all channels is paving the way for a buy button to appear on social media platforms as big tech fights for a slice of the pie. As a result, US social commerce sales are expected to rise by 35.8% to $36.62 billion this year. But, this figure is only one-tenth the size of China's $351 billion.

For consumers, this means we can expect to see more swipe up to purchase promotional posts and stories from influencers. Although many are getting accustomed to buying products from social media platforms, the feeling of being sold or marketed to still feels inauthentic to tech-savvy Gen Z audiences looking who expect something different and more meaningful than a sales pitch.

The convergence of social commerce, live streaming, entertainment, and commercials looks set to dominate conversations around the future of retail. But it's still very early days and navigating a fragmented space with the usual suspects, Facebook, TikTok, Snap, Instagram, and Amazon all looking to lead the way.

Live streaming has become a big part of everyday life for over a year.

Online classes, zoom meetings, and video game streams on Twitch are just a few examples of how it became ingrained in our daily lives. But now, consumer demand suggests that shoppertainment could finally provide retailers with the pandemic proof growth strategy they have been searching for.

A video-first and mobile-first approach won't be enough for retailers to stand out from the crowd and avoid getting left behind. The bottom line is uplifting, and informative content will boost engagement and accelerate sales. The question every retailer should be asking their loyal customers is, are you not entertained? How consumers answer will determine if their brand is on the right path or not.

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