“My boss wants me to do live shopping. What should I do?”

Online shopping has become a universal culture. In our last article, we talked about live shopping as a new form of online shopping that utilized real-time video transmissions and immediate communication experiences. Of course, these commerce methods are not completely new. In the field of advertising/marketing, video has long been used for commercial purposes. Internet broadcasting is also a type of content that has been around for a while and that we are all familiar with. Live shopping combines video and online broadcasting into a new sales/marketing channel.

In this article, we will cover some of the practical implications of live shopping to help brand managers and sellers who are in the preparation stages. Even if you have no knowledge or experience with live shopping, you will find it easy to prepare by just following this article.

“What type of live shopping platform should I use?”

To start live shopping, first, you need to decide where to live stream. These days, a lot of platforms are competing to promote live shopping, so it might seem like you can just do live shopping anywhere, but it is not as simple as that. Live shopping platforms can be largely divided into two types: open platforms and closed platforms. In an open platform, anyone can create a broadcasting channel and conduct live shopping; but closed platforms work under a structured commission system that ties the brand to the platform, and lives are conducted according to the regulations and policies of the platform.

Major open platforms in Korea are Naver Shopping Live, Grip, Coupang Live, and Source Live. Each platform slightly varies in its requirements, but if you are a business that has previously sold online, you can easily access the service and livestream. The required documents to register the store are: A business registration certificate, a  mail-order business registration certificate, and a purchase safety service usage confirmation certificate, all of which are essential documents to start online sales. Naver Shopping Live is accessed through the Smart Store, and you must maintain your rating in order to post and operate a live channel. In Coupang it is also necessary to enter the store as a seller first. Grip or Source Live, however, do not have online mall-related services, instead, they focus on providing live shopping services only.

Grip's entrance page

Closed platform services in Korea include Kakao Shopping Live, Grib, Coupang Live and Sauce Live. Requirements may be slightly different for each platform, but if you have previously sold online, you can easily open a store and conduct a live event. Documents required for opening a store include a business registration certificate, a mail-order seller report, and a certificate of use of purchase safety services. All of these documents are required to start selling online. In the case of Naver Shopping Live, sellers must have a Smart Store and maintain a certain level to open and operate a live channel. Coupang also needs to open a store as a seller first. On the other hand, Grip and Source Live do not have existing online mall-related services, so they need to open new stores for live shopping.

Classifying Live Shopping Platforms

Another big difference between open and closed platforms is broadcast production. The open platform just handles the broadcasting services; they're not in charge of actually producing the broadcast. On the contrary, closed platforms are in charge of the broadcast production. This proves quite convenient since services from filming locations to production staff, and marketing can be all found under the same platform. This makes things convenient because everything from filming locations and production staff to marketing can all be supported on the same platform. Yet, if the brand lacks recognition, the financial strain might become overwhelming.

Exclusive show hosts and channels directly operated by Naver

Naver Shopping Live is one of the representative open platforms, managing both exclusive shows and channels. Brand owners have flexibility to handle their own channel management, marketing, and production or they can also entrust Naver Shopping Live with the entire process. Major brands are the most common customer for this kind of all-in-one package. Consequently, there's a noticeable disparity in content quality across the platform. Independent broadcasts, usually managed on a low budget using mobile apps, differ significantly from the high-end equipment and skilled manpower employed by Naver, resulting in a marked contrast in content quality.

“The boss insists on doing it personally, not entrusting it.”

If you are choosing a closed platform, you do not need to read the rest of the article. As we mentioned before, in a closed platform the seller only has to pay for the production cost and provide a product. This article will rather focus on giving advice to those who are planning to produce live shopping content themselves.

To shoot and broadcast live shopping, you'll need filming and transmission equipment. The strength of live shopping lies in its flexibility. You can go live from virtually anywhere using just a smartphone. Open platforms like Naver Shopping Live, Grip, and Source Live provide their own broadcasting apps, making it effortlessly simple to live stream using your smartphone.

Youtube RTMP Address Format

If you want to improve your stream quality beyond a smartphone camera, you have the option to use a separate camera and broadcasting software. Various choices exist, such as webcams, camcorders, DSLRs, and mirrorless cameras that can be connected to a computer. Many live shopping production companies opt for mirrorless cameras that are relatively inexpensive and perform well. While some productions use cinema cameras and commercial lighting equipment to elevate streaming quality, the broadcasting quality isn't always related to the sales. Therefore, it's not advisable to make significant equipment investments right from the start.

You will need a broadcasting software for streaming. The broadcasting software allows you to connect the camera and PC, and send the video to the live shopping platform. The transmission software uses a communication protocol called ‘RTMP (Real Time Messaging Protocol)’ to transmit the video in the live shopping platform. RTPM basically permits the server and broadcasting platform to exchange data with each other. If you start a live stream on the live shopping platform, the RTMP value for the live broadcast will be granted. If you input (copy/paste) this value directly into the broadcasting software, you can broadcast right away.

RTMP is a protocol used not only in live shopping platforms but also in live broadcasting platforms like Facebook, YouTube, AfreecaTV, and Twitch. Think of it as similar to an internet URL concept. In practice, RTMP and URL look quite alike. Just like typing https://www.naver.com into a browser takes you to the Naver homepage, putting an RTMP address into broadcasting software sends video data to that specific address. The main difference is that while browsing a website downloads images or videos from the website server to your PC, RTMP involves uploading your live shopping video to the server of the respective platform.

When connecting a camera to your PC other equipment will also be required. In the case of webcams, since they are designed for the PC, they can be easily connected to the PC through USB. However, in the case of DSLRs and mirrorless cameras, camcorders, etc USB connection is not enough for the PC to use the camera screen. Some recent cameras do provide a PC connection function via USB to enable a webcam mode, but it is not a very popular feature due to the performance issues it causes.

Live broadcast setup for PC

To load the camera screen to the PC, you must use a device called a capture board. The ATEM Mini released by Blackmagic Design is a renowned product within the live shopping  industry. The ATEM Mini provides a ‘switcher’ function that allows you to connect multiple cameras at the same time and switch screens, and a ‘capture board’ function that transfers video to your PC at the same time. And while providing all these functions simultaneously, its price is still comparable to much simpler switchers in the market. It is inexpensive, small, and easy to carry, but due to its nature as a cost-effective product, stability can be somewhat lacking. If stability is your top priority, we recommend a capture board (Blackmagic Design DeckLink) that is built-in and attached to a desktop PC.

OBS is the most popular broadcasting software for PCs. It has established itself as a highly stable and, above all, free internet broadcasting software. There are also various transmission software for mobile devices, and among them, 'Camera Fi Live' is commonly used among professionals in the field. CameraFi Live allows you to directly connect a capture board to your smartphone via USB, just like you would with a PC. This solves the issue of needing a PC for streaming and the problems that may come with it like having trouble transporting the PC and having no access to the internet or electricity. Using your smartphone, you can access LTE and have internet anywhere, long lasting batteries and easy-to-transport small devices are also advantages. 

Live broadcast setup for CameraFi Live

There is an exception to take into consideration. Naver Shopping Live requires you to use their own software (either the Naver Shopping Live app or a Naver’s private transmission app called ‘Prism’) for mobile broadcasting. Even if it is transmitted through a PC, the software is restricted to Prism for PC. Only some channels hold the privilege of using OBS and other programs.

Avoid common mistakes while preparing for your broadcast

After setting up the broadcasting equipment, it is time to create some content. In live shopping, your content is your product, and that product must be as captivating as possible. What viewers expect from live shopping are lower prices and higher benefits. If the product is not significantly cheaper during the broadcasting, there is no reason to buy it while watching. If the product can be bought on sale at any time, the customer will not get out of their way to buy it from the live shopping stream. People do not tend to buy more expensive products just because watching live shopping is fun.

On top of cheap prices, receiving other incentives can also encourage viewers to purchase during the broadcast. The most common incentive in live shopping is something called ‘purchase verification’. Purchase verification allows customers to receive a gift after posting the purchase code on the chat window. This purchase verification event has two purposes. The first is to motivate a purchase through incentives, and the second is to reduce the probability of purchase cancellation.

As consumer consumption patterns become increasingly sophisticated and diverse, new sales methods continue to appear. Live shopping viewers tend to have responsible purchase patterns. They are usually not just impulsive buyers willing to buy useless products recklessly. Selling useless products has seen some amount of success through TV home shopping in the past due to the zapping nature of TV. If the broadcast was striking enough to stop the zapping, there were good possibilities of a successful sale. 

However, live shopping gets most of its viewers from advertisements. Live shopping viewers generally enter the broadcast by clicking on platform ad banners, community site ads, YouTube, Facebook and blog ads, etc. People are likely to click on ads for products they are already interested in. And having purchase intentions makes the customer spend more time looking into the details of the product. With all this previous knowledge, if the customer fails to receive any incentive or gift for the live purchase, they will likely cancel the order. Purchase authentication works as a device to induce these responsible consumers to give into their already existing purchase intention. It is truly a battlefield.

Once the product selection has been made, it is time to recruit a charismatic host who can represent your product. Some may think “who better to explain the product than the product maker themselves?”. But this assumption can be incorrect. From the customer’s point of view, this can feel like a burdensome advertisement. A live shopping host is not simply a product salesperson. The host must be able to empathize with the viewer and understand the buyer's position to truly give convincing reasons to buy the product. We recommend product planners, developers, and sales managers refrain from hosting broadcasts since it is difficult for those who are already deeply involved with the product to sympathize with consumers.

In Korea, commercial broadcasters are generally referred to as ‘show hosts’, but recently, live shopping hosts are trying to differentiate themselves with a new name: ‘Shoppertainment’ (an amalgamation of the words ‘shopping’ and ‘entertainment’). ‘Shoppertainment’ is not just a broadcast that sells goods, but also provides valuable entertainment content. Live shopping realistically might not be at the same level in terms of entertainment with other variety programs but the efforts of the ‘shoppertainment’ industry do not go unnoticed either. Product-related quizzes and game elements that viewers can participate in are some of the techniques used to highlight the entertainment aspects of the broadcast.

Most well-known show hosts and presenters are often freelancers. Contacting hosts through DM on social media platforms is a common method if their contact information is not already available. Because most of them work individually, the cost can vary widely. Hosts with experience in home shopping and live shopping are often recruited between 500,000 won and 2 million won per hour. (Please note that this is an approximate cost based on experience, and the required cost may be higher or lower depending on the host's individual capabilities.)

After hiring a host, the next step is planning the show’s direction. You will need a cue sheet. A cue sheet is a document usually used for events where the contents that fill the duration of the event are listed. In the case of live shopping, most broadcasts last about an hour.

When filling out the cue sheet, keep in mind that live shopping broadcasts make the most sales within 20 minutes of going live. Previously, we mentioned that the customer's purchase intention was motivated to some extent by clicking on ads, and thus they have already acquired information about the product. For that reason, it is key to make an obstacle-free purchasing experience. Price, product options (color, size, etc), discount codes, or detailed information about the product are all decisive factors for the purchase.

That is why placing the key information within the first 20 minutes is a must. This will help customers decide if they want to buy the product or not within a short time frame. If the price is the main selling point, you should introduce it at the beginning. If there is a special first-come, first-served gift, introduce it right away. In the second half, it is better to add fun and interesting elements to energize the audience such as a quiz or comment event. 30 to 40 minutes after the start of the broadcast viewers can become bored and disengaged. Encouraging comments during this time can provide much-needed energy to the broadcast making it a welcoming environment to viewers entering in the second half and also stopping the audience already watching from leaving.

Junseok Seo PD

-   Current Position:: Live Shopping Production PD for Lalastation

-   Previous Experience: Mobile Content Production PD for Makeus PD

-   Previous Experience: Reporter for Techsuda & PD

-   Previous Experience: Marketing Team Leader for 39 Degrees C