This story was originally published on Digiday, Modern Retail’s sibling publication
Facebook took a step Tuesday in making live stream shopping more mainstream. The platform is kicking off so-called Live Shopping Fridays, a three-month-long event in partnership with major makeup and apparel brands.
Every Friday starting May 21, three brands will rotate to host 30-minute long live shopping events each week in their respective Facebook Shops, focusing on promoting products. The events and brands are centered around three themes — makeup, apparel, and skincare. Participating brands included Alleyoop, Abercrombie & Fitch, Bobbi Brown Cosmetics, Clinique, Dermalogica, Dolce Vita, Murad, Sephora and ZOX. Each brand will host three live shopping events total.
The wider reach of Facebook, coupled with big brand clout, might move the needle on a selling channel that is still fairly new in the U.S, especially when compared to China, where live stream shopping is the norm.
For some brands, that reach, and data that comes with it, is appealing.
“In retail, we just don’t have good data,” said Leila Kashani, CEO and founder of Alleyoop cosmetics. “You don’t see who’s bought the product, who stood there and tested it. We only see sales. So any data Facebook gives us in this experience is more valuable than what we would get in a retail setting.”
Through Facebook Live, brands are provided email addresses, shipping and billing addresses when a consumer completes a purchase. This summer, Facebook will also promote the live shows via newsfeed placements, where users can click “interested” to be reminded of the live show later. The company will also stream the shows in its Shop tab within the Facebook app.
This isn’t the first time Facebook has hosted a live shopping event. In late April, Facebook partnered with Petco to host its first live pet fashion show and dog adoption drive. The show featured products from Youly and Reddy, Petco’s private labels. Amazon, Walmart, and Nordstrom also offered their own versions of live shopping.
Yulie Kwon Kim, director of product management commerce at Facebook, said that the platform decided to focus on beauty and fashion because those categories are highly visual. “This is a way for those brands to experiment, and to drive broader shopping awareness,” she said.
Alleyoop will be the first brand in the event. In its 30-minute segment, Kashani will be joined by a makeup artist to discuss product uses, tips and tricks, as well as product combinations to achieve a full face of makeup. The idea is that the consumer is drawn in by the performance, but ultimately clicks through to purchase the products featured.
The event will be hosted in the PR agency’s office of Alleyoop for more space, but the technical setup is pretty simple. “It will be me and two other members of my team. As long as our products are listed in our Facebook Shop, we’ll be good to go,” said Kashani.
For Alleyoop, the live events are a way to meet their customers where they are, building on convenience. Kashani explained that the live shopping experience will occur in three rounds. The first event is a baseline, measuring the average number of viewers, where in the stream they drop off, and what products sell best. The second and third live shows will build on those data points. “We don’t know what we’ll learn, but having that data nonetheless will help our products,” she said.
Facebook live streams enter a crowded field, competing with several other platforms for consumer attention including Amazon, Netflix, YouTube and TikTok. “When Facebook’s revenue is totally ad-driven, it needs to find other ways to up that time on screen, it needs those eyeballs,” said Lance Muranaga, vp of revenue at Abacus Agency.
Facebook has tried several ways to keep users in its apps. On the e-commerce side, Facebook launched Facebook Shops in May of 2020, and in March 2019 it rolled out Instagram Checkout to drive in-app purchases. In a Clubhouse discussion in March of this year, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that there are now more than 1 million active Facebook Shops, and over 250 million people are “interacting” with them every month.
Still, Facebook live shopping is a medium that many brands don’t see a need for.
“Our clients, big and small, are interested in learning more about live shopping, but aren’t totally bullish on it,” said Muranaga.