How to integrate live shopping into your Shopify store

How to integrate live shopping into your Shopify store

Live shopping is helping store owners boost sales — here's how to get it up and running on your Shopify store.

Posted May 22, 2022

The direct-to-consumer ecommerce shopping experience has remained largely unchanged since Amazon first launched in the 90’s — but that’s about to change in a big way. The days of non-interactive online shopping are numbered. Consumers expect a more engaging way to interact with their favorite brands and learn about their products. Here’s what you need to know about live shopping as a Shopify store owner.

What is live shopping?

Live shopping was popularized and perfected by QVC and the Home Shopping Network in the 70’s and 80’s. The idea was to put charismatic salespeople in front of the camera and let them make their pitch to thousands of people at once, providing marketers with massive reach through a more personal medium that consumers could enjoy from the comfort of their couch.

It’s taken internet shopping technology nearly 30 years to catch up with the model that television shopping networks perfected a long time ago, but it’s here and it’s working. According to Bloomberg, in 2020 live stream shopping generated $60 billion in sales globally. Less than $1 billion of that was generated in the US — the bulk of sales came from China, where live streaming ecommerce has been huge for quite some time. 

Large US retail companies and live streaming platforms are racing to catch up. Amazon now has a live shopping service, Walmart piloted a live shopping event on TikTok this year, and big brands are lining up events on Facebook and Instagram Live. Just recently, YouTube has hinted they are working on live stream shopping features for their platform where videos will showcase featured product links while streamers are showcasing them. 

What’s the best platform to host live shopping events?

The largest platforms consumers reported attending a live shopping event were by far Facebook and Instagram, according to Insider Intelligence.

Hosting a live shopping event on Instagram or Facebook makes a lot of sense if that’s where you generally engage with your brand’s audience. You also have the possibility of expanding your organic reach if the algorithm promotes your live stream to shoppers outside your followers that happen to be browsing at the time.

Using the Instagram live shopping feature allows you to showcase product links to Instagram checkout during your live stream for a seamless buying experience.

That being said, anytime you’re hosting a live shopping event for your brand on a platform you can’t control, there are going to be limitations.

Drawbacks of hosting live shopping events on 3rd party platforms like Instagram

For example, if you choose to host your events with Instagram Shopping, here are some important considerations:

  • During the live stream, you will only be able to feature products from your store that are available through Instagram Checkout
  • Instagram Checkout takes a hefty 5% seller’s fee
  • You will not get crucial customer information like their email or name to re-engage with that customer later

How to host a live shopping event on your Shopify store

Having a completely integrated live shopping event on your Shopify store has some clear advantages. For one, you won’t have to figure out how to get customers from the streaming platform to your store to checkout, reducing the friction in the sales process. Instagram is notorious for not allowing many opportunities to link out of the app, and most other streaming platforms are similar — doing everything they can to keep viewers on their platform.

Plus, since the transaction takes place through your Shopify store, you’ll have the opportunity to collect valuable customer information that you can use in your retention marketing campaigns down the line. Any merchant that sells on Amazon knows how important owning their own customer data is.

Right now, there are only two good options we’d recommend for Shopify sellers that want to host live shopping events directly on their store, but we expect more technologies to pop up to fill in this growing need. Here are the top live shopping platforms that integrate directly with Shopify:

Bambuser

This Swedish startup, Bambuser, leads the pack in terms of functionality and ease of use. The app will integrate directly with your Shopify store and feature what they call a “floating action widget” on your store once a shopping event has started that shoppers can watch while they scroll through the store. Users can then expand the picture-in-page unit at any time to ask live questions and click through to the products being featured. Bambuser, we should say, also offers white glove services to help you host, edit, and attract live stream viewers in addition to their technology offering.

Bambuser Pricing

While definitely the most robust onsite live-shopping platform, it isn’t necessarily cheap. You’ll want to carefully weigh the potential ROI of a platform like this before making a commitment. 

how bambuser works

Live Shopping & Video Streams

The most bang for your buck if you’re a smaller to mid-size store is the Live Shopping & Video Streams app from Channelize.io, available on the Shopify app store. It offers most of the core features that Bambuser does (in-show product promotion & add to carts, live chat, and viewer analytics). 

Live Shopping & Video Streams Pricing

Its pricing structure has three monthly tiers (Free,  $49/month, and $99/month) based on the number of events per month, stream length, and other features. It also tacks on a $0.049 fee per live event attendee. A live stream with 1000 viewers would cost you around $50 — so if you’re hosting larger events, it could add up quickly. 

The app has great reviews (5 stars with 22 reviews) on the Shopify app store and is probably your best bet to quickly test a live shopping event on your site to see how it performs for you.

Explore more Shopify live shopping solutions

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