Livestream Shopping is Overrated

ALSO: NRF is happening come hell…
January 12, 2022

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Livestream Shmivestream

This week I was quoted in Marketing Dive with a bearish take on the current and future state of livestream shopping. In short: it ain’t gonna happen. Not here in the U.S., and not anytime soon. 

My reasoning is nuanced but important for us to understand the state of the consumer. As I unpacked on Insiders #63, buying in-context of a video playing back is not enough. What the consumer will need to shift buying modality is to be awed: 

But what customers want is not a form of entertainment. They seek a form of inspiration - to serendipitously encounter something they hadn't set out to find. A DTC-QVC can only survive if it is more Pinterest than it is Shopify.

This lack of inspiration is no more clear than on the homepage of Amazon’s own app. Their investment in livestream shopping goes back nearly three years to a Prime Day expansion event. Since then, they’ve had streamers working tirelessly, selling luggage, apparel, and even assembling furniture. If you were to tune in at any time of the day—even in prime-time—you’d be surprised to notice that there are merely hundreds of viewers, not thousands. The chat is dead. And the stream placement keeps moving down, down, down the homepage. 

In short, Amazon is deprioritizing the livestream channel. 

This fact does not bode well for the thinkfluencers who continue to insist that QVC-for-DTC should exist. It already does: it’s called QVC. But QVC x HSN isn’t doing so hot right now. Sales are down in home goods, an area that boomed during the pandemic due to a phenomenon we coined The New Formal. Supply chain woes are also a concern. But people are also returning to their defaults: the real store. 

And herein lies the existential threat for all digital commerce: be it video or not. After marketers have stoked the purchase intent in a customer, is the customer willing to wait two to three days for the product to arrive? The number of 15 minute delivery apps competing in NYC alone says that the answer is increasingly “no”. So what, then, does a customer do? They get off their tail and head to the store. According to, retail foot traffic in Q4 now exceeds pre-pandemic levels. 

Retail Foot Traffic 2020-2021

Source: JLL Insights,

So why so bearish on livestreaming? If customers want to watch a stream and purchase, they’re already doing it today. 1-to-many streams exist that are far more entertaining, and spur plenty of commerce interactions. But the sole reason for existence is not the core purchase decision, and therein lies the difference. QVC is successful because the QVC shopper is built different. The average customer buys 24 items in a year, and spends a little over $1,400. 

And you can’t stop your subscription churn after 90 days — but you think your customers will watch a 2 hour stream? Psh. Right. 

When we say “livestream shopping” let’s be honest what we mean. It’s not being sold to. It’s being inspired to purchase. There’s a distinct difference. 

— Phillip

The (Big) Show Must Go On. As is the custom, the National Retail Federation will hold its annual “Big Show” expo and conference over the Martin Luther King Jr. weekend. In accordance with tradition, retailers will make the pilgrimage… actually stop there. With the spread of Omicron, CES being a relative ghost town, and big-name exhibitors like Adobe pulling out of the expo, it’s unlikely we’ll see much in the way of attendance. Matt Shay, President of the NRF, is suggesting that attendance will be as high as 20,000. We’re estimating closer to 5,000. Either way, the event will be better than last year’s digital-only event, which was plagued by tech failures, downtime, and integration issues. Here’s to hoping it’s not The Big (No) Show.

Representation in currency. The U.S. Treasury is minting quarters featuring an image of Maya Angelou as part of their “American Women Quarters” initiative. She will be the first black woman to be represented on the coin and will be joined by other great women in our history, including astronaut Sally Ride and Cherokee Nation principal chief Wilma Mankiller.

Editor’s note: It’s about damn time.

Birds-Eye Bottega. Bottega Veneta has hijacked the Great Wall of China for the Lunar New Year and made a pledge to support renovations to the Wall’s “Shanhai Pass.” The simple phrase “happy new year” adorns the Wall. According to Twitter user Michael Miraflor, this may qualify as one of the largest and most ambitious OOH (out of home) ad buys ever. In September they bought rooftop space on an LAX eastbound runway approach, and a pool in Australia back in November. Not pictured: analysts estimating brand awareness amongst astronauts aboard the ISS.

Supply and Dough-mand. Dominos expects “unprecedented” increases in the cost of their ingredients to be coming in 2022. The chain plans to make updates to their promotions to help offset the rising prices of meat and cheese.

Please don’t go. The Great Resignation continues and employers are doing whatever they can to keep good employees from leaving. This WSJ article tells how that is unfolding through stories of multiple people who were offered promotions and better positions when they told their companies they were burnt out and planning to quit. For the first time in a really long time, the power seems to be in the hands of the employable masses.

The newest diet craze is… non-existent. An anti-diet campaign is growing as women especially are rejecting the idea that weight is the only marker for health. And recent science seems to be backing this up. Referred to as intuitive eating, this movement focuses on lifting restrictions and listening to the body’s hunger signals. Which sounds… normal?

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