Livestream shopping has slowly gained momentum in the local market pre-pandemic, but the COVID lockdowns have further propelled its growth.

Livestreaming e-commerce, or popularly known as "Livestream shopping," is promoting and selling goods through influencer streams on their social media channels, most often housed on online shopping marketplaces. Industry experts dubbed it as Home Shopping 2.0, with more charismatic, trendy hosts moderating an entire program that is part infomercial and part variety show.

Livestream shopping is an innovative way for brands to gain awareness and move excess inventory. It also enables small local businesses from online sellers to independent farmers reach customers, which is very important in light of the COVID lockdown restrictions.

One of the first local companies that jumped into this trend in 2019 is Shoppertainment Live Inc., a tech-enabled livestream shopping network for e-commerce and social media that helps brands generate real results on real time. It acts like a virtual shopping network where customers can shop and be entertained at the same time

According to Hiyasmin Neri-Soyao, CEO of Shoppertainment Live, "Shoppertainment comes from two words— shopping and Entertainment."

Their team creates entertaining live shopping streams for brands that will help people to shop smart, so they just add-to-cart. They deliver the whole marketing experience from awareness, engagement, to sales for every livestream session bringing their influensales™ mindset. They described Influensales™ as all about having an influencer's ability to engage, inform and entertain, while having the salesman mindset to sell products and understand every product's unique features and benefits.

Soyao, a former O Shopping host and TV actress, explained that Shoppertainment Live creates a Homeshopping 2.0 experience for brands and their consumers. "It's essentially a "broadcast network hat works with companies and brands to sell their products through livestreams," she explained.

Building a makeshift studio in her partner's chat support office, Shoppertainment Live started by doing livestreams on Lazada, signing-up brands who were willing to try out the relatively new e-commerce tool. It didn't take long before they perfected the concept, and they started attracting more clients.

By 2020, the company put up its own livestream studios and started hiring more people. "We knew we were doing something right when we were reaching an average of 20 streams per month and had to grow the team from six employees to 30 immediately. We also increased our studio capacity to meet the demands. We started with an average of one to two campaigns per month and increased to 200 percent by the end of 2020," she claimed.

Hiring the right talent was also key strategy for the company. Seasoned professional from the broadcast industry, Lawrence Lee, who has over 15 years’ experience in TV, currently leads the production team and brought in the foundational practices of broadcasting. Paired up with people from the events industry who know the intricacies of a live event with similarities with a Livestream, Thei Vitug from Viva events joined in to lead the accounts team. Asked why they joined the company, both saw this as an opportunity to establish a new innovative industry.

Research and development lead JB Operario said that the industry is always evolving: “I might know so much about livestreaming at this point but I will never know enough. Every day is a new opportunity to learn something new in order to improve our already competitive services.”

Shoppertainment Live has done over 1,000 live streams since its inception and has worked with more than 70 local and multinational brands. The company has also worked with some of the country's top celebrities and influencers and has been part of award-winning e-commerce and marketing campaigns for multinational brands in more than a year in the business. Soyao told, "The need for live streams during the quarantine increased, and we knew that we were already equipped with the right production skills needed by the brands who were pivoting to digital."

Livestream shopping is proven to be a pandemic-proof response for heavily affected industries like below-the-line advertising and activations sectors.

"BTL and activations-reliant consumer brands didn't know how to pivot their marketing game when lockdown and social distancing took place. We empowered these brands and companies to shift from their traditional "promodizing" method (usually done inside malls) to doing it via live streaming," Soyao pointed out.

Shoppertainment Live sees this as an ongoing trend, even if things get back to normal. “They say it takes 30 days to make a habit, it’s been over a year, live streaming is already part of our commercial lifestyle. The pandemic has indeed accelerated the livestream consumption behavior and accelerated the growth of our industry. Currently, we are expanding capacity, studio space and workforce. Our mission is to challenge ourselves even more and hit our target of doing 9,000 livestream sessions in 2021,” she added.

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