Is livestream grocery shopping on the way in the U.S.?

Discussion
Sources: Firework
Sep 24, 2021

Albertsons’ e-grocery customers will soon be able to shop via video.

The regional grocer is entering into a partnership with video platform Firework, which it will use to place short-form shoppable videos and cooking experiences on its websites. The platform is also capable of enabling livestreaming video, which the grocery chain intends to implement in the future.

Shoppable video and livestreaming have grown in popularity in the U.S. in recent years, especially since the pandemic has forced customers at various points to shop exclusively from home.

Stateside, livestream shopping has caught on mostly in apparel thus far, where luxury brands such as Rebecca Minkoff have begun leveraging major livestreaming platforms, including Amazon Live and Instagram, for live shopping events. There has also been a proliferation of niche livestream shopping apps. Up until the pandemic, livestream apparel shopping was mainly popular in parts of Asia, but the model recalls interactive television outlets like Home Shopping Network and QVC.

Livestream grocery shopping has also already caught on in Asia and grocers have been generating impressive profits from the model.

A livestream host going by the pseudonym Viya in China managed to sell $100 million GBP  (appx. $137 million) in food products on e-commerce platform Taobao, according to an article on The Grocer. Food has emerged as a key driving force for the ongoing growth of livestream commerce in China, allowing rural and remote food producers to reach new customers.

While Albertsons is the first major U.S. grocery chain to utilize this particular short-form video platform, it is not the first grocer in the West to experiment with enhanced video and livestreamed content.

Dutch cheese merchant Kaan in 2017 launched its Kaan’s Stream Store, a livestreamed feed from inside the shop, which allowed customers to watch in-store staff, chat with them live and make orders from home.

RetailWire was unable to access the Kaan’s Stream Store at the time this article was written at the store’s advertised URL, kaansstreamstore.nl, indicating the streaming store is potentially now defunct.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Is a partnership with a livestreaming/video platform and the creation of shoppable video content a worthwhile investment for grocery businesses? How can a grocer make the best use of these new kinds of content?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"Livestreaming can differentiate unique and remarkable grocers, giving them an edge in retail’s most exciting category."
"While at the surface grocery shopping may not be the ideal platform for leveraging livestreaming content, the emerging Gen Z consumer group has embraced this medium."
"...it’s hard not to wonder how much technology has fragmented grocery and the consumer experience in this channel over the past few years."

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18 Comments on "Is livestream grocery shopping on the way in the U.S.?"


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Neil Saunders
BrainTrust

I see this more as content linked to a commercial opportunity to sell a select range of products relevant to the recipe or product demonstration than a new mainstream selling channel. That doesn’t mean it is not a worthy addition – it is, especially as it bolsters Albertsons’ food credentials and could provide it with a way for brands to advertise and promote, which it can monetize. We have also seen in the past that popular recipes can lead to an upswing in the sale of certain ingredients, so this has the potential to stimulate some spend. All that said, the vast majority of grocery shopping is routine purchases which will continue to be done via websites and apps.

Bob Amster
BrainTrust

My thoughts exactly.

Gene Detroyer
BrainTrust

…and another income opportunity for grocers to charge vendors to appear in the livestream efforts.

David Naumann
BrainTrust

While livestream video shopping isn’t going to appeal to everyone, it may be worth testing. Targeting Gen Z and Millennials with targeted livestream offers and evaluating the ROI is a low cost way to see if there is enough demand. The U.S. usually lags Asia and Europe in the adoption of innovative technology so our consumers may be a few years behind those geographies.

Dave Bruno
BrainTrust

There is nothing really new here, except perhaps the channel. As ever, content is everything, and if the video content is strong, I suspect people will purchase. The key will be engaging hosts with recipes and topics that are relevant to the Albertsons shopper – another hallmark of effective content marketing.

Ken Morris
BrainTrust

It may not be an investment the grocer themselves need to fund but it is a great way for grocers to get cooperative promotion dollars from their suppliers. This idea will require bandwidth, but with 5G coming we need to fill the pipeline with content. This just adds live theater to the store/stage.

Influencers have found their way to the grocery aisles and are now going to be picking up a bag of chips and telling you to buy them. And you will, and from the comfort of your own couch. Basically Homer Simpson’s vision for the ideal future is becoming a reality. Expect a lot of photo-bombing from Instacart shoppers and/or viral videos of fights between livestreaming shoppers and Instagram pickers going for the same item. Can’t wait.

Joel Rubinson
BrainTrust

I’m not sure about this one. Supermarket shopping is highly functional for most shoppers with respect to most products and in that case, the key is simplifying and speeding up the shopper process. If this is married with a shopping basket being prepared for you either in the store or home delivered, OK, there could be value. Beyond that, for those minority of products that are explorative, like artisan cheeses, this might have some benefit.

Lisa Goller
BrainTrust

Livestreaming can differentiate unique and remarkable grocers, giving them an edge in retail’s most exciting category. Grocers with vibrant livestreams that inform, entertain and inspire consumers will make their rivals jealous.

Livestreaming best practices include:

  • Use highly-visual products: Grocery and beauty are the perfect fit for vibrant livestream marketing.
  • Make the product the star: Last year, critics found a leading retailer’s livestream distracting. Focus on informing viewers of products’ benefits and sensory attributes (vs. influencers’ unrelated dance routines).
  • Add some magic: Live cooking shows, product taste tests or relevant influencers like celebrity chefs would liven up the grocery marketing space.
  • Build a community: Products that align with lifestyles and interests (health and fitness enthusiasts, new parents, vegans) have an easier time attracting their audience.
  • Invite conversation: Encourage viewers to ask questions in real time to deepen engagement, connection and trust with grocers and CPG brands.
Gene Detroyer
BrainTrust

Shopping is trending toward convenience and speed. There is no indication that this will stop until we all have too much time on our hands.

However there is likely a niche of viewers (not shoppers) who will enjoy the connection opportunity this presents. Those who see shopping as an entertainment alternative rather than something to fill a need.

Mohamed Amer
BrainTrust

Shoppable video platforms are a reality in today’s commerce landscape. No reason for the grocery segment to remain on the sidelines. Think of it as a digital form of Costco’s in-store food sampling program with impulse purchase potential.

Richard Hernandez
BrainTrust

Livestream shopping has been around for a while now with clothing, furniture, home goods and the like. I think grocery is a natural extension but, as with everything else, will have to be modified to fit American shoppers.

Ryan Mathews
BrainTrust
I respectfully disagree with some of my fellow BrainTrusters about the value of content. I think I can summarize a highly nuanced and brilliantly conceived rebuttal argument into a single word – television. Broadcast television just had to — well — broadcast, to be successful. Much of the content that kept Americans glued to their sets was, to be kind, vacuous. That same content-free content now lives on 24/7 for eternity on cable. Or think about our [now] cradle-to-grave love affairs with screens. Not only does the content being viewed on our laptops, notebooks, phones, and sources of such compelling content as TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, et al, not have to be inspiring to win our continuous attention, it doesn’t even have to tie back to reality. What’s the common denominator linking these lifetimes of content-lite objects of our collective visual obsession? Ah — yes — streaming. “Stream it and they will watch,” apparently no matter what it is. Not only that, they’ll uncritically accept whatever they see — no matter how absurd. Let’s call it,… Read more »
Brandon Rael
BrainTrust
While at the surface grocery shopping may not be the ideal platform for leveraging livestreaming content, the emerging Gen Z consumer group has embraced this medium. Albertsons is wise to innovate their shopping experiences, test at least, learn, and adapt to changing consumer behaviors. During the pandemic we have also witnessed that many consumers have taken up cooking, and livestreaming could be a unique way to resonate with new customers. The West, especially the U.S. market, has lagged behind the livestreaming trends that have dominated the Asian market. Alibaba has transformed the grocery experience around the new retail operating model with their Hema stores, a seamless fusion of digital and physical shopping experiences. China, which now accounts for 40 percent of the world’s e-commerce business, is pioneering “online-to-offline,” or O2O, retailing, in which customers use digital channels to buy from companies. As Albertsons and other U.S.-based grocers take their first steps into the new retail model, consider that influencer livestreams lead to significant e-commerce market growth. According to a recent Deloitte report, livestreaming in China… Read more »
Ananda Chakravarty
BrainTrust

Grocers with tight margins have little reason to be investing in livestreaming – outside of exploration purposes. It’s great to have the innovative perspectives and drive for recipes and delivery of an online experience. However customers will taste delicious samples of dishes in the grocery store and maybe even purchase them on the spot. Far fewer will drive to the supermarket because they see a picturesque video on how to make a dish to purchase it. There’s not much differentiation, but it might tap into a small niche market group that will buy through video. We’ve had TV ads for decades doing the same thing. The tech is experimental, not experiential.

Mark Price
BrainTrust

Live video chat with designated shoppers at grocery will be perceived by a certain segment of consumers as very valuable. The concern for consumers has always been quality in produce and selection in meats – video streaming addresses both of those issues. At the same time, the cost of implementation are high and the incremental value may be low. That is a testable proposition. Offhand, I would say that the high cost of entry will likely dissuade many groceries from implementing live video streaming, until the costs and the speed of implementation drop, which is in heaven.

Patricia Vekich Waldron
Staff

Given the popularity of celebrity chef, food television, new cuisines, meal kits and eat-at-home, livestreaming is a great way for grocers and brands to engage consumers.

Craig Sundstrom
Guest

RetailWire was unable to access the Kaan’s Stream Store at the time this article was written at the store’s advertised URL, kaansstreamstore.nl, indicating the streaming store is potentially now defunct.

I’ll let that be my comment.

Rachelle King
BrainTrust

This is a refreshing opportunity to drive excitement in the grocery channel. Historically slow to change, US grocery may not be on the forefront of livestream grocery in the next 5 years, but it will be interesting to watch the major chains test and learn. Not surprising to see Albertsons step up and lean in. However, it’s hard not to wonder how much technology has fragmented grocery and the consumer experience in this channel over the past few years.

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"Livestreaming can differentiate unique and remarkable grocers, giving them an edge in retail’s most exciting category."
"While at the surface grocery shopping may not be the ideal platform for leveraging livestreaming content, the emerging Gen Z consumer group has embraced this medium."
"...it’s hard not to wonder how much technology has fragmented grocery and the consumer experience in this channel over the past few years."

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