In a pretty turbulent time for the technology industry, it was welcomed with open arms to see some exciting news. Last week Apple announced that they are launching live shopping on their website, making it easier and more convenient for customers to buy products. This new service is being called “Shop with a Specialist,” and it will allow shoppers to engage one on one with an Apple specialist while also being able to view the specialist's screen and directly compare various Apple iPhones. The Apple specialist will not be able to see the customer. This new concierge service is available to all U.S. customers every day from 7AM to 7PM PT.
As a company that specializes in leading live shopping software, we are thrilled Apple has joined the movement. Here's five things we believe this move by Apple means for live shopping in the future:
1. Live shopping belongs on a brand's website, not its social accounts or other platforms.
For customers, live shopping offers a more personalized experience when it comes to buying products. A brand's social presence is intended to reach as many as possible, not create individual connections. It makes sense then that social commerce hasn't worked like the big social media platforms hoped. This move by Apple shows that.
Apple was founded in 1976. They lead in both innovation and sales regarding smart phones, laptops and other devices. The Apple app store has launched hundreds of other successful software companies. Why are you being reminded of this? It's why you never see people share an Apple Instagram post with you or tag you on their TikTok account. They don't need social media to grow their brand. They need social media to sell their products, and they've seen how that''s gone. Customers buy from them in two places, at their retail stores or on their website. This live shopping move demonstrates how much more revenue they believe they can get out of their website.
2. Live shopping will help convert more website visitors than email marketing, chat bots, or pop ups.
At its core, live shopping is very much like going to a movie theater. Watching a movie at home is a fantastic way to spend time. However, it pales in comparison to watching a movie in a movie cinema with other customers. If it's a comedy, you love the jokes more when there are people to laugh with. If it's an action film, the explosions look and sound much better on the theater's big screen than they do on any home theater system. It's why you're willing to pay more for the popcorn and soda. You feel like the experience is worth more, and that's what a live shopping event does.
In Apple's case, taking a website and transforming it into an interactive experience where a customer doesn't have to scour a site for info or wonder how a product looks outside of its product photos will convince more customers to buy the product they inquire about because they are are getting that added service.
3. Brands would rather sell directly to consumers through e-commerce than through retail.
Retail is not dead, and this point is not trying to say that it is. It certainly has changed though. More importantly, consumer expectations have changed. This is a world where shopping is as easy as ordering household items in the morning from your bed and seeing them delivered to your door that day without you ever setting foot outside your home. Retail just involves far more layers with regard to purchasing, staffing, real estate, and logistics that the cost most likely works out better if the product is purchased and delivered via e-commerce.
For Apple, they absolutely have retail down to a science. Their stores are designed to increase their brand presence, inspire FOMO, and provide the most quality customer service. When the next generation of an iPhone is released, there are a lot of positives for Apple when customers wait in long lines outside their stores to purchase them. However, it does cost a lot to run those stores and those lines prevent everyone from being able to purchase an Apple product. With more focus on e-commerce, they can sell preorders of their products, which improves purchasing and logistics decisions while removing the cap on how many they can sell. That's win-win.
4. Live shopping proves how crucial customer service is for a brand to thrive.
It feels weird to say, but most online consumers aren't used to quality customer service. If they are engaging a chat bot, there's a decent chance it's not a human they are interacting with. If it is a human, they may have to wait hours to get a response. Another example is how painful it can be to return something one purchases online. All to say, the basics of business continue to remind us that customer service can beat better products or pricing any day of the week. Always has, always will. While the intent of a live shopping event is to market and sell products, the core mission is to provide as seamless and resourceful of a customer experience as possible.
Apple and their genius bar have been providing that level of customer service for years in their locations. "Shop with a Specialist" just extends that commitment to consumers. Since customers can interact with Apple staff on the website, they can ask questions and get quick answers about products.This allows customers to make sure they are getting exactly what they want without having to make multiple trips to a store to find the right product.
5. Live shopping offers the best of the retail experience for web visitors.
As previously mentioned, retail is not dead. It's just changed. It's changed because a shopper's needs are immediate and they don't understand situations where a retail store may be out of that shirt in that size. They don't want to wait to be contacted when it is back in stock. They will avoid trying on clothes in person as often as possible. These are the retail obstacles that your modern consumer wants to avoid and what e-commerce helps them escape. However, the best part of a retail store is the friendly store associate who asks if you need help with anything. They aren't pushy or cumbersome. If you decline their service, they make you aware that they are there to answer any questions you have when you have them. You want to purchase black pants but aren't sure of which style or brand? That associate will take you to each option or grab multiple options to present to you. It's that service that retail is amazing at that e-commerce is not. Live shopping brings that retail experience to your e-commerce store.
With respect to Apple, live shopping provides a more efficient way for customers to purchase products. That highly trained Apple specialist is going to be able to answer all your questions, both aesthetically and technically, to make sure you buy the iPhone you want that addresses all of your needs. By providing customers with a more personalized shopping experience, Apple is saving time and money. They know you are interested buyers. They just want to make sure they help not only secure the purchase for their company, but ensure you are happy with your decision and likely to either add to your purchase now or in the future.
Live shopping is the future of e-commerce. There is no doubt about it. This is why Reactive exists. We want each brand's website to bring that retail experience to its customers. The customer will make the right purchase while having a unique brand experience. The brand substantially increases sales conversion while creating personal dynamics for each live event viewer.