Live stream shopping is one of the most successful forms of e-commerce today. However, many people fail to realize that it has its roots in the televised shopping networks of the 1980s. Remember The Home Shopping Channel or QVC (Quality Value Convenience)? Think of these as the OG live-streaming shopping platforms. For those that never experienced them in person, these channels would sell everything from jewelry to beauty products to home goods. Each show had a host who would showcase the products on live TV. They would describe the products and perhaps even model them. Then, viewers would be invited to call a phone number if they wanted to purchase the item that was being displayed. The idea was that people could shop without ever having to leave their couch (a novel idea at the time!). Of course, things have changed dramatically since the rise of the internet, but home shopping channels remain one of the earliest examples of live stream shopping.
While the launch of live streaming and social media platforms certainly played a role in the rise of live stream shopping, there was one other major global event that facilitated its take-off, the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the onset of the pandemic in early 2020, over 8,000 retail locations have closed in the United States alone. This has marked a significant and more permanent-feeling shift away from traditional brick-and-mortar shopping, leaving room for a more convenient and COVID-safe way to shop. For years, the internet has been the go-to place for consumers to research, review, and shop for products, but there was one element missing: the interactive, personalized nature of visiting a store and connecting with an employee in person. Enter live stream shopping. Although live video commerce has been used in China since before the pandemic, the concept experienced a serious boom both at home and around the world in the last year.
What is Live Video Commerce?
Live video commerce combines live streaming, a feature that can now be found on nearly every major social media channel and production platform, including Stage TEN, with the ability to shop for products (both physical and digital) directly through an online live stream. Live streaming has grown to be one of the most popular methods of shopping due in large part to its interactive nature. As a live stream audience grows, an increase in engagement occurs. You’ll often see questions about the product being showcased, or even requests for the host to show items from a different angle or discuss the size or feel of it. This lucrative form of e-commerce provides a more personalized experience, allowing viewers to interact with live stream hosts, asking them questions about the product they’re selling or requesting to see it from a different angle. There is also an exclusivity element to live stream shopping. For example, some hosts will offer discounts to shoppers who purchase an item in a specific window of time. Similarly, sometimes hosts will only showcase products for a limited time, creating a countdown to drive excitement.
Plus, when the item is available, some platforms will have a ticker showing the number of products for sale going down as more people shop. Ultimately, live stream shopping fosters an environment of exclusivity and spontaneity that makes people more inclined to shop. In essence, live video commerce is bridging the gap between brick and mortar shopping and online shopping, providing consumers with an interactive, spontaneous, and often exclusive-feeling shopping experience unlike any other.
Live Stream Shopping vs. Online Shopping
Just in case anyone is confused about what exactly live stream shopping is and how it differs from other types of shopping, we’re going to break it down for you. Live stream shopping is a form of online shopping, however, one that is far more interactive than the typical online process of visiting a website and purchasing an item. With live-stream shopping, social media is king (yet another reason to prioritize growing your social media followings). Although live stream shopping is online, it is primarily app-based as many shoppers will learn about and see the item they wish to purchase via a live stream taking place on a social media app, such as Facebook or YouTube. As the name suggests, live stream shopping is conducted directly through a live stream, meaning that shoppers can click on a link made available in the stream and be redirected to a landing page where the item can be purchased on the spot. Further, this form of online shopping provides shoppers the unique opportunity to interact with the live stream host before making a purchase. Using the chat or comments function, viewers can ask questions about the product and request to see the product from a different angle. This is a level of personalization you simply don’t get with any other type of online shopping. Finally, since live stream shopping is done online (and all a user needs to take advantage of it is an internet connection and a mobile phone), it is accessible to anyone anywhere, which makes it even more valuable.
Types of Live Video Commerce
Live video commerce has already grown to a point where there are multiple forms of it. While some, such as influencer or brand streaming, might be more popular than others, there’s no denying that live video commerce provides retailers all over the world with an incredible wealth of opportunities.
- Live Auctions: Live video streaming has transformed auctions of the past, with major auction houses like Sotheby’s and Christie’s even getting on board. Now, organizations are reaching worldwide audiences by opening up bidding to people who cannot attend the event in person. Live video is critical to the success of online auctions, as it ensures bids are recorded correctly, allowing each item to sell at its highest potential.
- Online Marketplaces: Online marketplaces such as eBay have long enabled consumers to buy and sell products online. But now that online shopping is the norm, marketplaces are choosing to integrate live video to attract new customers. Now, through the integration of live streaming into many online marketplace platforms, these virtual marketplaces are mimicking markets of the real world, allowing users to “tune in” at a specific time, interact in real-time, and provide immediate feedback.
- Influencer Streaming: Influencers and brands have largely taken over the live video commerce industry. The rise of technology, especially platforms like YouTube and Instagram, has led to a new breed of celebrity: the influencer. Now, major online influencers are amassing new followers by the day, making paid sponsorships an extremely lucrative revenue stream. With a captive global audience, influencers are leveraging their followings and being paid to promote products in an interactive live stream format. And online streaming platforms are catering to this newfound form of revenue. For example, Stage TEN allows users to create shoppable live streams directing viewers to their own landing pages or website. Stage TEN also enables creators to fully customize their live streams to include graphics, audio, or video clips relating to the product they’re selling, and thanks to the invaluable Chat function, creators can read and respond to comments and questions from audience members in real-time.
What to Sell on a Live Stream
Creating and selling your own products or services is one of the most lucrative moves a live streamer can make. Live stream shopping has become an important revenue stream for creators across the globe - and streaming platforms are recognizing it. That is why platforms like Stage TEN have put a ton of effort into developing tools and features that make live shopping easier than ever before. If you decide to go the route of creating and selling your own merchandise, there are a few factors to consider. First and foremost, what do you want to sell? Merchandise, such as t-shirts, mugs, toys, and hats, is a popular option. Other options range from digital products like tutorials, courses, e-books, or webinars, to industry-specific items such as vinyl or gaming controllers. You will need to spend some time thinking about which products will resonate the most with your audience, as well as the amount of time and money you have to invest. For example, digital products are usually high-value, low-cost, whereas physical products require a greater upfront investment, but typically offer a higher profit margin. In addition to capital, you will need to consider factors like design, inventory, shipping, and production. You can choose to do all of this on your own, creating an online store, shipping products, etc…, or you could design the products yourself but then let a platform-approved company take the rest of the cut. A final option is to partner with stores that let you take advantage of opportunities on certain platforms. The choice is yours and will ultimately come down to the level of involvement you wish to have and how much capital you’re able to invest. But whatever you do, be sure to market your newfound product offerings via your live stream. If you decide to sell t-shirts, wear the shirt during one of your live streams and find a way to organically mention where and how your audience can buy one.
The Most Lucrative Revenue Streams
There’s no denying it - live streaming is taking off. And as with any booming industry, the opportunities for monetization are only growing. Revenue streams that were once exclusively available to large businesses are now opening up to creators of all levels. The barriers to entry into what is becoming a bustling live video marketplace are lower than they’ve ever been, allowing anyone with a laptop and an internet connection to have a shot at making money from live streaming. Thus, not only is it inexpensive to start live streaming, it’s also easy. With so many live streaming production platforms out there today, not to mention the growing number of social media platforms with integrated live streaming features, live video has never been more accessible. That said, if you want to make money live streaming, there are a few key pieces of information you should be aware of. Below, we delve into all there is to know about monetizing your live stream. From the most lucrative revenue streams to what to look for in a live streaming platform when you aim to make money, get ready to turn your favourite hobby into a potential career.
- Brand Deals and Sponsorships: Brand deals and sponsorships are two of the most popular ways of making money through live streaming. In fact, if you’ve amassed even a half-decent following then you’ve likely already had brands approach you for sponsorship deals (and if not, brand sponsorships are still a possibility, you’ll just have to do the work of reaching out to companies and marketing yourself). The details of sponsorships will vary from company to company, but generally, a brand will pay you to mention them, highlight a specific product, and share a personal testimonial about the product. Brands typically pay by the number of views your live receives, with prices ranging between $15 and $50 per 1,000 views.
- Affiliate Schemes: Affiliate schemes are similar to brand sponsorships, except they’re usually less risky and less lucrative. However, they’re also more accessible, meaning streamers with lower follower counts can get in on this revenue stream. Affiliate schemes are when streamers are given a unique code or link from a brand, promote it on their live streams, and then earn a commission when their audience makes a purchase. Commission can range between 5 percent and 30 percent per sale.
- Fan Donations or Tips: Many live streamers also make money through fan donations or tips. As this revenue stream has grown, more and more platforms have started adding integrated donation features. For example, some third-party apps allow you to add a “donate” button to your channel via PayPal, while others have their own virtual goods or currencies viewers can use to make a transaction. Though this isn’t the most reliable revenue stream, it’s guaranteed to put some extra cash in your pocket if you have a handful of dedicated fans.
- Pay-Per-View Content: Creating pay-per-view content is another common revenue stream you can take advantage of. Using this method, you would plan a live event and sell tickets for it in advance. Pay-per-view live events are especially popular in the gaming niche, but they can be lucrative options for a wide range of interests and hobbies so long as you think of a live event people would want to attend and promote it well. The first step in doing so is creating content that feels exclusive or unlike anything currently available for free on the internet. You’ll also want to make sure you choose a platform with integrated shopping features that enables you to sell tickets to your live pay-per-view event.
- Viewer Subscriptions: Even better than occasional donations or one-off pay-per-view events are viewer subscriptions. Unlike the other two revenue streams, viewer subscriptions guarantee regular payments. Platforms such as YouTube typically have certain requirements that must be met for a user to access their subscription feature, but if you meet the requirements, it’s worth considering. If you end up going this route, you’ll need to start creating a mix of content, some of which is free and some of which is exclusive to your subscribers. High-quality content, as well as a feeling of exclusivity, are both key to developing a loyal customer base of subscribers.
- Selling Merchandise: Creating your own products is another popular method of making money through live streaming. If this is the first time you’re selling your own products, one option is to kick things off by creating branded merchandise (think t-shirts, mugs, hats, tote bags, etc…). However, the options are endless depending on the amount of capital you have. For example, you could also choose to sell an industry-specific product like a branded gaming controller or even a digital product, such as an e-book, tutorial, course, or downloadable guide. The product or service you choose to offer will largely depend on your audience and what will resonate most with them but will also come down to the amount of money you have to invest in this revenue stream. Creating merchandise, especially if you’re looking to sell a physical product, will require upfront capital. Be sure to consider this before diving in. Other considerations include shipping, inventory, design, and production. You can choose to do all of this on your own or go through a third-party platform that will help you (though keep in mind, most platforms will take a cut of the profits).
- Launching Your Own Platform: By far one of the most lucrative ways to make money live streaming is to launch your own platform. Such platforms usually operate similarly to Netflix in that they are subscription-based (users must pay a monthly fee to access the content). As the platform is entirely yours (i.e. not hosted on a third-party platform like YouTube), you are in total control of the marketing and get to keep 100 percent of the money you earn. That said, launching a successful live video platform, while lucrative when successful, is far more time-intensive and often riskier than the other revenue streams listed above. If you choose to launch your own streaming platform, then you need to treat it like a business. Make sure you have a stream people want to watch and a sizeable number of fans who are willing to pay to watch it.
What to Look For in a Live Streaming Platform If You Want to Make Money
- Integrated Payments: First and foremost, if you want to make money live streaming, integrated payments are key. It would be pretty difficult to monetize your live stream if you didn’t have a way for viewers to pay for the product or service you’re promoting. That is why when choosing a live streaming platform on which to host your stream, check that they give you some sort of option to create a video paywall. Some production platforms offer these as part of their monthly subscription fee, while others have one-time purchase options. If you stream on a platform that has an integrated live shopping feature, it makes purchasing what you’re selling far easier and quicker, which increases the chances of audience members buying it. Stage TEN is one platform that offers integrated payments to its users. By downloading the platform’s Stage TEN Rozy App and connecting it to your Shopify account (more on this process below), you can have viewers shop for and purchase a product right in the middle of your live stream. You can direct viewers to make a purchase on your owned-and-operated brand site, microsite, or storefront. Further, Stage TEN also provides creators with integrated pay-per-view, tipping, and donation options.
- Audience Analytics: To monetize your live stream, you’ll also want to look out for a platform that provides audience insights or analytics. Audience analytics often include metrics like the total number of people who viewed your live stream, the highest number of concurrent viewers, the age of your audience members, their geographical locations, their primary language, and the type of device they were viewing from. These pieces of information are extremely important when growing your audience but they are invaluable when monetizing your live stream. Gaining a true understanding of your audience (who they are, what motivates them, and when they are online the most) is of the utmost importance when trying to make money through live streaming. Be sure to choose a live streaming platform that provides in-depth audience analytics, and even more, be sure to analyze these analytics after each live stream. The more you know about your audience, the better chance you have at making money.
- Community Tools: As all live streamers know, your followers or subscribers are the community that keeps you afloat. Thus, finding a streaming platform that includes community management features is vital. While audience analytics will help you get to know your audience after your live stream, the right community tools can help you get to know them in real-time. And when it comes to community management tools, the more interactive the better. For example, Stage TEN has a real-time voting feature, where the host can create a poll and reveal the results live, as well as a chat room where viewers can add comments and questions for the host to address throughout the live stream. Stage TEN even lets the host drag and drop comments into the live stream and use automated “thank you” overlays whenever a viewer makes a purchase. Ultimately, by using a community management tool like a chat room and answering audience questions about the item you’re selling or even thanking specific viewers for their purchases, you have an unparalleled opportunity to connect with your community and grow your following (and your earnings).
- High-Quality Video: If you want to make money live streaming, then finding a platform that offers high-quality video is a must. If you choose a platform with inadequate technology, the video quality will suffer, which can lead to dissatisfied viewers and a poor online reputation. To avoid this, choose a live streaming platform that offers not only high-quality content delivery but also high-quality video production software. With reputable platforms like Stage TEN, you can make a live show from your basement feel as if you’re in a big studio. It provides creators with the ability to mix live feeds, multistream to 30+ platforms simultaneously, and connect multiple cameras, including pro cams, webcams, and mobile phones, at once. The goal is to choose a production platform with such high-quality video that viewers will have a hard time believing you’re not a professional videographer.
- Customization Features: Customization features and high-quality video go hand-in-hand. To make money live-streaming, you’re going to want your feed to look as professional as possible. Being able to customize your video is critical to making your stream look professional. With production platforms like Stage TEN, users can fully customize their entire stream. From custom images and video clips to audio and text overlays, the sky's the limit! Your videos will instantly look more professional if they all feature your unique branding. Plus, if you choose to promote a sponsored product, you can even include professional product shots or the brand’s logo to further professionalize the live stream.
How to Make Money with Stage TEN’s Rozy App
Stage TEN is one of the leading live streaming production platforms in the world right now. As an interactive content and commerce platform, they provide enterprise users with the opportunity to create fully customized and shoppable live streams. To take advantage of all that Stage TEN has to offer, the first step is to download the free, Stage TEN-powered Rozy app on your Apple mobile device (iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch). To enable live-stream shopping via the Rozy app, you will also need to have a Shopify store that contains at least one product. If you meet these basic requirements, it’s time to get set up for live stream shopping with Stage TEN.
- Set up the Rozy app: Install Rozy from the Shopify app store and create a free Rozy/Stage TEN account. Next, create a promotion for the product you want to sell via Shopify. Finally, install the Rozy app on your iOS device from the Apple app store and sign in with the same Rozy account you set up for Shopify.
- Select the product(s) you want to sell on your live stream: Open the Rozy app and choose the product(s) you want to sell from the list of promotions you created in Shopify.
- Customize the live stream: The next step is to customize your live stream. You can add a title, duration, and sales target. You’ll also be able to make changes on the broadcast screen. The broadcast screen will be in set-up mode, meaning no one else can see you yet. Now is your chance to preview and edit any default images, overlays, or video clips. To change any of them, tap on the gear menu to view your edit options or press and hold the icons on the right.
- Connect to platforms for multistreaming: By default, all live streams created in the Rozy app will link to a page on your Shopify store. If you’d like to enable multistreaming and connect your stream to other platforms, now is your opportunity to do so.
- Let your audience know you’re going live with a sale: Click the Share icon to share a link to the Rozy channel page on your store to let your community know that you’re going live and will have items for sale.
- Click GO LIVE to begin your live stream. Voila! You’re now live on your Shopify shop’s new Rozy channel, as well as any other channels you enabled multistreaming on. Your audience can now easily shop the items you’ve made available for sale and ask you questions about the items via the Chat function.
Tips for Selling Products While Live Streaming
- Connect with your audience. Live stream shopping is all about connecting with your audience. Thank them, give them a shoutout, and answer their questions and comments in real-time. Try to be as authentic as possible. As the host, you don’t have to be perfectly polished at all times. In fact, speaking casually about why you love the product may serve you better. The more you’re able to develop a relationship with your audience members, the more likely they will be to buy your product.
- Customize your live stream. This is a general rule, whether you’re selling something via your live stream or not. Customizing your live stream by way of images, video clips, text overlays, and audio will make you stand out from the crowd. Stage TEN offers a wide range of professional-quality customization options that will instantly improve the look and feel of your live streams. Through the Stage TEN-powered Rozy app, you can create a fully customized stream and go live in under ten minutes. Don’t be afraid to get creative.
- Be friendly and honest. As alluded to above, audiences love authenticity. Is this the first time you’re trying out live stream shopping? Tell your audience and be honest about any challenges you’re having. Ask the audience questions in the same way that they’re asking you questions. In essence, don’t be afraid to be yourself.
- Create buzz on social media. Before going live, generate some buzz about the live shopping event you’re hosting. Use every tool in your arsenal to promote your event. This means creating a countdown and posting graphics on your social media channels, writing a post about it on your blog, and maybe even sending out an eblast to subscribers.
- Repeat, repeat, repeat. One of the biggest mistakes first-time live streamers make is forgetting to repeat key information throughout the stream. It’s a simple fact that not all of your audience members will tune in from the very beginning of the broadcast. Rather than punishing those who arrive late (and risk losing their business), take a few seconds every few minutes to briefly repeat what it is you’re doing. For example, say something like, “for all those viewers who just joined, we’re discussing how great this moisturizer is.” Repeating the most important aspects of your live stream, such as the product you’re selling, will make new viewers feel more welcome and engaged.
- Go live at the same time each week. Treat your live stream like an episode of TV on the aforementioned shopping channels of the ‘80s and ‘90s. Like any good television show, plan to go live at the same time each week. This way, your audience will know exactly when you’re on each week and they will be more likely to tune in. Over time, going live consistently can help you amass a larger audience. Note: when choosing a time to go live be sure to take a look at your live streaming analytics to figure out where your audience is located (which time zones) and when they are online the most. Choose a time when the majority of your audience will be online.
- Consider a co-host. If you’re comfortable with it, consider going live with someone else. This person can be behind the scenes, notifying you of any important comments or questions, or helping with other elements of the broadcast. They can also be on camera with you. Sometimes, especially if you’re nervous, having someone else there to discuss the product with can feel a lot more natural.
- Follow up with your audience post-live stream. The work isn’t over once your live stream has ended. Instead, be sure to post a recording of the live stream to your social media channels. From there, follow up with your audience. Remind your audience about the products available by posting on social media. You may even want to send out an email newsletter or partner with influencers to promote the product on your behalf.
Other Ways to Make Money through Live Streaming
Live stream shopping is one of the most lucrative ways to monetize your live streams, but it’s not the only way. There are several different ways users can make money through live streaming, ranging from ads to fan donations. If you’re interested in making money via a live streaming app like the Stage TEN Rozy app, keep reading.
- Ads: One of the most obvious ways to make money via live streaming is through ads. Running ads during your live stream is a common revenue stream for many creators, but it’s generally only lucrative if you have a large following. This is because the money earned is based on the number of people who see the ad. Some platforms, such as Facebook, have added ad capability to live videos, giving streamers the option to take a short break by playing an ad partway through their stream. However, this feature is only available to streamers with over 50,000 followers and who have reached a minimum of 300 concurrent viewers in a recent live stream. That said, if you have amassed a hefty following, live ads provide an opportunity to make money via live streaming.
- Fan Donations: Another way to monetize your live stream is to get donations or tips from fans. More and more live-streaming platforms are coming out with integrated donation features, allowing audience members to reward creators by sending a tip or donation in real-time. For example, YouTube Live has a Superchat function allowing video creators to enable live donations during their stream. All donations viewers make appear in the Live Chat window, with larger donations remaining pinned longer. Some services, such as Twitch, also allow donations but through the platform’s own virtual currency.
- Pay-Per-View and Subscriptions: Even better than an occasional tip or donation from a fan is a regular payment. This is where pay-per-view or subscription-based payment options come into play. When it comes to live-streaming, the pay-per-view model typically asks fans to pay a certain amount of money to access a creator’s restricted live content, whereas a subscription service gives access to all of a creator’s content for a set period. Both ensure regular upfront payments but are typically only available if you meet certain platform requirements. Plus, while pay-per-view and subscriptions provide a rare opportunity for regular payments, creators have to work hard to keep their audience interested.
- Affiliate Programs: Make money through live streaming via an affiliate program. Affiliate programs are sort of like working on commission. How it works is you receive a special product link or promo code from a brand, you promote that link or code via your live stream, and anytime someone visits the link and buys the product using your link/code, you earn a percentage of the sales. It’s a fairly-hassle free way of making money via live streaming, though again unless you have a significant following, it may not amount to much.
- Brand Sponsorships: Brand sponsorships are another popular method of making money via live streaming. However, again you need to have a decent following for this to be a worthwhile option. If you’ve made a name for yourself and have amassed a large following, then you probably already have offers from brands coming in. If not, then you’ll have to take on the brunt of the work, reaching out to brands, marketing yourself, and trying to strike a deal. A few examples of how brand sponsorships work include having an entire stream sponsored by a brand, playing ads or displaying banners promoting a brand during your live stream, or sharing sponsored content during your live stream, such as promoting a specific product from a brand. The amount of money you make from brand sponsorships varies considerably. For well-known creators, you can expect to be well compensated for the partnership, however, for lesser-known creators, the deal might be as simple as being given a free product in exchange for promotion. Whatever you do, don’t jeopardize your reputation. Brand sponsorships can be great, but if too much of your content is sponsored it can lead to a drop in viewers. You’ll also want to closely vet all brands in advance of partnering with them to make sure their values align with yours. Also, stay within your niche. If you’re a beauty blogger promoting a fitness product, it’s going to confuse your viewers and make them less likely to come back in the future.
As you can see, there are plenty of opportunities to make money through live streaming. Although all options might not be viable from the start, with time you can amass more followers and take advantage of even more opportunities. Beyond choosing a money-making method that’s right for you, you’ll need to choose a platform that has your back. Through Stage TEN’s Rozy app, you can sell products live to your audience in minutes. To learn more about Stage TEN and the Rozy app, click here.
The Future of Live Stream Shopping
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, consumers were increasingly choosing online retail over traditional shopping centres and brick-and-mortar stores. But now, having lived through a global pandemic that precipitated a significant rise in live stream shopping and shuttered thousands of physical stores permanently, it’s difficult to see how retail will revert to its old, outdated model. We predict live stream shopping will only gain in popularity, possibly outpacing other forms of e-commerce in the next decade. Why do we think this? In addition to the unprecedented growth the shopping method saw in the last year alone, the technology that supports live stream shopping is only getting better. Social media and live streaming platforms are coming out with new and innovative ways to make live-stream shopping more accessible for both creators and consumers.
Stage TEN is one example of a live streaming production platform that offers its users a unique opportunity to monetize their live streams. Through the Stage TEN-powered Rozy app, this intuitive production platform has integrated live commerce with live streaming. In under ten minutes, users can link their Rozy account with Shopify, set up a promotion, and start streaming live. In essence, live stream shopping is as easy as making a FaceTime call. With major innovations like this, why would anyone want to go back to an old retail model?
Other trends on the rise in the live stream shopping sector are 3D experiences using virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technology. These technologies create fully immersive experiences, which can be hugely appealing to consumers. For example, using VR technology, users can view an item of clothing from every angle or even sit in front row at a virtual fashion show. Similarly, with AR consumers could be able to shop for furniture, pointing their camera at a space in their own home and using an overlay feature to display the sofa, area rug, and coffee table you’re considering purchasing. Ultimately, there’s no telling exactly what live stream shopping will look like in the future, all we know is that it’s not going anywhere.