Another livestreaming company is ready to launch in the U.S. Popshop Live is a mobile-based selling platform that will compete with Glamhive to be the pioneers in this relatively new format, which continues to see exponential growth in China.
The company has a unique selling proposition that’s different than the Chinese model, which is based on appointment and event scheduling driven by celebrities and special guests. Popshop Live enables livestreaming according to sellers’ schedules while also acting as a marketplace.
From a seller’s perspective, here’s how Popshop works: Suppose a startup streetwear company in New York City wants to sell directly to urban consumers. The company would contact Popshop and get a playbook with advice on how to shoot a livestreamed show and how to ensure that the experience yields results. Once connected to the platform, the company would then schedule a show and invite its current customers or advertise to get new customers to watch and buy. Once the show goes live, Popshop would provide a dashboard with the number of viewers, sales conversions and other KPIs.
“Having just the product is not enough,” said Founder and CEO Danielle Li. “And then the other piece of the puzzle is creating the playbook for sellers to identify the right contents, right personality and right merchandise. I’m proud to say that Popshop can provide a playbook to set sellers up for success from their first show, and can also help them create sustainable success in a period of three months, six months and a year.”
From a shopper’s perspective, the experience is simpler: They download the app to watch a show based on a seller’s invitation or open the app to browse shows by category. Currently, there are 10 categories; Li hopes to expand to 20 or 25 as the user base expands.
Li first came up with the idea for Popshop in 2016 and it launched in beta in 2019. The app is available on iOS via invitation, with plans to add Android later in the year. While the Chinese livestreaming experience has been focused on desktop, Li feels that mobile is the right platform.
“It’s very interesting to see the conversion rates of eCommerce and mobile for the general market and then look at how it has worked for us so far,” she said. “It's typically lower with mobile eCommerce compared to desktop, which is very interesting, because when you look at some of the new mobile innovations like Uber, you see more value – there's no limit in terms of time or location. We’re seeing much higher conversions with livestreaming commerce on mobile compared to traditional eCommerce.”
Li sees Popshop, and livestreaming in general, as a combination of several user experience features. Among them: entertainment, social selling, video content and a need for consumers to interact with the company they’re buying from. She believes that it hasn’t yet caught on in the U.S. because companies haven’t taken the time to bring sellers onto livestreaming platforms, as Popshop has done with its playbook.
One of the factors that plays into the current opportunity is the pandemic. “COVID has brought attention to livestreaming,” Li noted. “We have a lot of new sellers who have had to close their physical stores. But a lot of sellers have a passion for selling by creating in-person connections with their customers, which is often why they started their businesses in the first place. When they transition to eCommerce, they become the hosts of their own shows. And instead of talking to one person at a time in the physical store, they can talk to hundreds of thousands of people at the same time, which ends up being more efficient than traditional eCommerce. It expands their relationships with customers.”
Popshop announced earlier in the month that it has raised $3 million in funding, bringing the total amount raised to $4.5 million. The investment will go toward hiring, building new features, developing live content and onboarding new sellers in preparation for the company’s public launch later this year.