Toby Zhang and Carl Lewis chat about the new trend of interactive livestream shopping and how it turns customers into fans. Learn how it could benefit your brand.
Toby Zhang used his engineering education to lead product teams at Microsoft and head a venture capital firm. Then he leaped into the startup world—and he’s having a blast.
Toby is the founder and CEO of Shop LIT Live, a platform for interactive livestream shopping. Based in San Francisco, the company helps brands tell their stories, generate buzz, raise awareness, and increase sales.
Toby joined Carl Lewis, host of The Connected Enterprise podcast, to chat about this new trend and how it turns customers into fans.
It's Not Your Mother's Home Shopping Show
Live selling is a real-time interaction that allows customers to directly engage with brands. It began in China in 2015 and is relatively new to North America—but growing quickly. Brands of all sizes are embracing the trend and using the advanced technology to reach wider audiences.
“Brands can tell their stories in an easier-to-digest format,” Toby explains. “Customers interact in real-time and ask questions to learn more about products before buying them.”
Brands often use Shop LIT Live to pair live shopping with special sales, holiday events, or new product releases. Brands can sell through their existing channels via shareable links. “With one click, the audience gets led to the live shopping shows, where they can purchase directly,” Toby says.
And unlike old-school HSN and QVC shows with presentation formats, live shopping is bidirectional. Audience members can even request to be streamed into the experience. “Then you can have a ‘fireside chat’ about the product,” Toby says. “It’s very interactive, very personal.”
The Early Adapters
Most brands currently using Shop LIT Live sell home essentials: Beauty and skincare products, fashion, accessories, and home décor. It’s easy to demo these products and establish their value on camera. Audiences are about 70% female, and most are 18-44 years old.
In addition to those early adapters, “We’re seeing more brand partners from other industries, like medical device companies and even pet stores,” Toby says. “It’s very cute to see the animals while the shops tell the audience about their pets or pet products.”
Brands can tell their own stories, or camera-shy folks can lean on Shop LIT Live’s proprietary network of “creators.” Not to be confused with influencers, creators are vetted experts in various industries who tell unbiased stories about products. Shop LIT Live’s creators range in age, ethnicity, and languages spoken.
“Creators share their own stories about why they like products or what the products could do better,” Toby says. “Brands really value that, and so do customers—customers care about how authentically a message is delivered.”
Listen to the Podcast
For more insights from Toby Zhang, including how to get started with live selling, listen to Vision33’s The Connected Enterprise podcast. In each episode, host Carl Lewis interviews bright minds and industry thought leaders about enterprise technology and what’s coming next.