How ‘Live Commerce’ and ‘Shoppertainment’ will drive growth for retailers

American Express Senior Vice President of Partnerships, Product, and Strategy, Antonio Gagliardi, joined Jason Holland, CBO of Firework and Kevin Miller CMO of The Fresh Market Inc to discuss how new technology can drive growth in consumer spending.

Since opening in 1982, The Fresh Market has grown to over 160 locations in 22 states and has now been voted the “Best Supermarket in America” for 2022. This European-style food market encapsulates the boutique specialty grocery store with a farmer’s market atmosphere, complete with locally grown produce, bins of freshly roasted coffee, an old-world style butcher shop and fish market, in-store bakery, fresh cheeses and cured meats, and floral stands. Over 75% of their range is ‘fresh produce’, not packaged groceries.

Firework is the world’s largest video commerce solution for brands and retailers. They bring interaction and community engagement to a retailer’s digital storefront through livestream and shoppable video.

The session dove into how ‘live commerce’ and ‘shoppable videos’ have increased conversions for retailers, as well as deepened the connection that brands have directly with their consumers through their own websites.

Jason Holland from Firework explained how his team is laying the groundwork for the future of shoppable content right from a retailers’ own sites and apps, allowing seamless shopping and checkout experiences, while, at the same time, helping retailers to build a background of customer data that will help them continue to provide the richest, most highly engaging shopping experiences as consumers move into Web 3.0 and beyond.

“In the past decade, online shopping has seen massive growth”, said Holland. As the median consumer age gets younger, the consumers bring an entirely different set of beliefs and consumer behaviour favouring short-form, live video. Short-form videos and live streaming have become a rage, with younger consumers actively seeking experiences, not just products from brands.

The pandemic saw a sharp increase in consumption of short-form videos as entertainment-starved consumers made a beeline for quick, snackable video content on social media platforms.

Kevin Miller, provided an overview of positive outcomes ‘shoppable video’ had delivered for The Fresh Market.

Miller indicated that his decision to partner with Firework was dependent on three important criteria. Firstly, will the partnership and innovation increase reach – to existing customers and importantly, new customers. Secondly, will the partnership increase our relevance – will the innovation enable us to talk to our customers in the right ways? Finally, will the innovation increase our revenue?

Miller wanted to drive and elevate their eCommerce platform, outside of simple discounting, static promotions and loyalty. “We wanted to understand the ‘new consumer’ – described as a ‘Super User’ of eCommerce?

Miller described The Fresh Market’s traditional customer, was a white, +60 year old, married female, with an average annual income of US$100k. They were consumers of traditional media, and they were being served well.

But the ‘Super User’ was younger, aged between 30-40 years, male or female, and earning over US$100k+ annually. They were very unloyalty, high-switchers across brands. They were high-tech, low-attention, seeking entertainment and engagement.

“The ‘Super User’ were a US$20bn market segment that we were missing. The ‘Super-User’ wanted speed, entertainment and excitement”, said Miller.

Working with Firework, The Fresh Market added shoppable videos to their existing social platforms.

“Our shoppers did not reject the new content; they kept coming back. They kept watching, engaging and importantly, shopping”, said Miller.

Miller discussed the statistics. Over 600 shoppable videos (each 15 – 30 seconds long) were created in one year.

“Based on our traditional social media, shoppable was working better”, said Miller.

The videos were both entertaining and education and created a ‘one click shop’ experience for ‘Super Users’. The results were more than what The Fresh Market expected. Over 700 days of ‘viewing time’ in the first year.

The Fresh Market created a series of ‘special occasion’ live stream shopping events – think Valentine’s Day, Easter and Christmas dinner. Their short Christmas Turkey cooking class was watched by 7,140 shoppers ‘live’ on the day and attained over 743k views ‘on demand’ after the live session.

By the end of the first year, ‘shoppable videos’ were achieving 22.4% higher conversion rates (compared to their site-wide average), 18.7% higher engagement (compared to industry average) and 6.7 times higher ‘click through’, than static social media posts.

The conversion rate for ‘meal focussed’ videos was 336% higher than ‘site-wide’ average.

Average ‘watch time’ increased from 7.7 seconds (Q4/21) to 12.3 seconds (Q3/22).

“Over 80% of viewers were first time visitors to The Fresh Market”, said Miller.

Holland, from Firework, said traditionally and transactionally, digital has tended to have been passive – often static, so images, rather than video.

His advice to ‘Turn the camera around’ – when you talk about your product, entertain and engage your audience, click though and conversion goes through the roof. Customers want to see the owner, the person, not the brand.

Keep it simple – progressively roll out shoppable video, before launching into full live stream shopping events.

It doesn’t need to be a celebrity – Super Users want authenticity. Use your key product specialists and your own people, with personality.

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