Walmart Joins Livestreaming Trend With TikTok; New ‘Shop Party’ App Debuts

At a time when the coronavirus has sent record numbers of consumers online instead of to the mall, livestreaming is filling the social vacuum. There’s no better example of the trend’s proliferation than Walmart and TikTok, which on Thursday (Dec. 17) announced a “first of its kind” event scheduled for Friday, Dec. 18 at 8 p.m. EST on the Walmart profile page on TikTok. At that time 10 TikTok creators, including Michael Le (@justmaiko), a dancer with 43 million followers, and other creators will participate in a one hour shoppable variety show, called the “Holiday Shop-Along Spectacular.”

The TikTok artists will share their latest fashion preferences and try on looks that can be found at Walmart. Brands that will be featured include Champion, Jordache, Kendall + Kylie and Walmart private label brands, including Free Assembly, Scoop and Sofia Jeans.

“We’ve shortened the distance from inspiration to purchase by making it shoppable,” said a statement from Walmart CMO William White. “The TikTok community will be able to tap on a product when they see a Walmart fashion item they like during the event. This makes it easy to add the item to their cart and check out, all while doing what they love — enjoying fun content from their favorite creators.”

Walmart joins another announcement this week as a new app is promising to turn the lonely eCommerce experience into, well, a party.

“For the first time ever, consumers can hang out and shop with their friends online, in one place,” Verishop said at the launch of its new “Shop Party” feature on its platform.

Instead of sitting alone in the dark, users can “hang out over video chat, explore products and shoppable content, see what others are browsing and shop together,” the company added. And of course, what kind of retail excursion would it be if it didn’t also include a “best-in-class” eCommerce experience that can seamlessly turn those impulse discoveries into actual purchases?

Right now, there’s only an iOS version of Shop Party available, and the video sessions are limited to 5 people and the 1,000+ brands currently available on — but retail watchers predict this Zoom call with a buy button trend has only scratched the surface.

“Shop Party for the win!” model Martha Hunt Tweeted after her first “super easy” experience with the new app. “Had so much fun hosting my friends & family and learning the feature,” she added, with a party popper emoji thrown in for good measure.

While Shop Party is designed to be a social shopping experience, it is only the latest iteration of a broader trend that is seeing the increased use of live-streamed video to motivate consumers.

“Livestreaming for marketers is no longer a novelty — live video is changing the way brands interact with their audiences,” New York based video platform Vimeo said.  “Live video strategy engages viewers in immediate and authentic ways that other social media formats cannot,” the company added, noting that 28 percent of marketers said they planned to invest more money in the tech this year.

New Uses For Existing Tech 

Anyone with a Twitter account has been able to livestream via its Periscope function since 2015, while Facebook Live was launched and has been available since April 2016.

While the tech itself may not be all that new, consumers’ comfort with digital video and interaction has steadily grown over the years.  However, the sweeping lifestyle changes and digital shift brought on by the global pandemic has been a catalyst for video streaming or live streaming.

It’s gotten to the point where today, Vimeo said, “customers expect live video at every step of the consideration process,” and savvy brands are finally figuring out ways to include it in their marketing stack.

Bridging The In-Person Gap

After nine months of rarely venturing into stores, Fast Company staff writer Elizabeth Segram recently conceded that “there are times when it really helps to shop in person,” like trying out makeup. To her delight, a brand new Los Angeles based retailer/video streamer called Beautycounter is “trying to bridge the gap between online and in-person shopping” with its Virtual Counter service.

As more and more businesses find ways to incorporate livestreaming into their marketing mix, the decision to do so is backed by reams of research that show video’s many benefits. According to Vimeo, there were more than 1.1 billion hours of content livestreamed last year, and 80 percent of audiences would rather watch live video than read a blog or social media post, noting that sales intent rose by 97 percent when consumers enjoyed a live-streamed video.

However, Vimeo also pointed out that if you’re going to do livestreaming, you had better do it well, since poor-quality videos caused a sharp increase in negative brand perceptions.

“If you don’t livestream your show you’re missing out on a huge opportunity that your competitors are going to pick up on,” famed fashion designer Carolina Herrera said.