Less than a week after CEO Doug McMillon touted Walmart’s increasingly digital business model, the retailer has announced plans to deepen its commitment to livestreamed content with a stable of new recurring programs.
In revealing a slate of eight new themed and regularly scheduled shopping events, the move by Walmart expands upon a trial launched three months ago with TalkShopLive, the California-based startup whose platform and tech enable viewers to make one-click purchases during video shows without being redirected.
Walmart VP of Brand Casey Schlaybaugh credited the success of the initial embedded live, shoppable content for the retailer’s decision to expand its partnership.
“[It is] a tool to continue connecting with our customers, bringing both entertainment and product information to one place,” Schlaybaugh said in the press release.
In an interview with PYMNTS, TalkShopLive co-founder and CEO Bryan Moore likened the evolution of livestreamed commerce to “television shopping 2.0.”
“What QVC, HSN, and television shopping did in that format is phenomenal. But what Walmart is doing with us is that they’re really looking at, not just as selling products, but really where content meets commerce,” Moore said, adding that it “creates shopping experiences worth talking about.”
Community vs. Content
Creating a buzz — a viral moment, or content that resonates enough with consumers so that they want to share it with friends — not only makes them more likely to make purchases but also to return again.
While celebrities enjoy a built-in advantage via their existing fanbases, Moore said the intimacy of streamed shopping shows is also turning countless small entrepreneurs into mini-celebrities with their own loyal followers. At the same, he said, brands — ranging from mom & pops to Procter & Gamble — are increasingly adding to their digital dossiers and looking for ways to make traditional two-dimensional shopping more memorable, engaging and fun.
“That’s really where your content [starts to] get shared and drives traction. That’s how you really start to build a community around your content,” Moore said, pointing to Walmart’s recurring program tactic as an example of what’s possible and what’s to come in this burgeoning corner of social commerce.
Although it is best known for its 4,700 giant supercenters in the U.S., Walmart has been an aggressive early adopter of social commerce, and now hosts livestreamed shopping content on 8 different platforms ranging from TikTok to YouTube, Instagram, Twitter and more.
Must See TV
In total, Walmart is launching eight TalkShopLive shopping experiences and regular programming that will run through March on its live shopping portal, including a slate of shows linked to Black History Month and Black-Founded Brands Week, Women Entrepreneurs Week, and “Baby Days,” which include programs sponsored by P&G’s Pampers and others.
“I think that stepping in and now doing regularly scheduled programming is a proof-point where the audience has responded and liked it,” Moore said. “People have enjoyed the experiences and they’re shopping,” he added.
In much the same way that traditional recurring sitcoms or reality TV shows entice viewers to return week after week, hosted livestreamed shopping programs are aiming to follow a similar path.
Although the livestreamed shopping market reportedly doubled last year, growing from $6 billion in 2020 to $11 billion in 2021, it still only accounts for a tiny portion of overall retail consumption.
In fact, just last week the U.S. Department of Commerce reported retail sales posted their biggest gain in 10 months in January, with a 14.5% increase in eCommerce or so-called “non-store retailers” far outpacing the headline gain of a 3.8% increase from a dismal December.
At the same time, recent PYMNTS data showed that 87% of consumers planned to make at least one online holiday purchase in 2021, up 10 percentage points from the year before. Those digital trends were especially pronounced among younger age groups, as “The 2021 Holiday Shopping Outlook: Why Convenience and Personalization Will Be Key,” a PYMNTS and Kount collaboration, found that 94% of millennials and 93% of bridge millennials planned to shop online.
With Walmart on board and deepening its livestreamed offerings, Moore predicts other retailers will continue to enter the space.
“We’re looking at considerable growth this coming year,” Moore said. “We’ll be launching with multiple retailers and brands.”