Walmart is going livestreaming for the holidays

Discussion
Source: “Live Cyber Deals - Sunday with Jason Derulo” - Walmart promotional video
Nov 23, 2021

Walmart is looking to spread a little livestreaming retail cheer this holiday season.

The retail giant plans to run 30 individual livestreaming events, including a 30-minute variety show at 7 p.m. ET on Sunday, Nov. 28 hosted by the recording artist Jason Derulo. The event, which will feature a variety of products and special guests and may be viewed from Walmart.com/live, Twitter.com/Walmart, YouTube.com/Walmart, Facebook.com/Walmart as well as from Instagram.com/Walmart and Tiktok.com/@Walmart.

Walmart first tested livestreaming last December with TikTok. Walmart CMO William White said that event drew seven times more views than expected for the first time around. The retailer also grew its number of TikTok followers by 25 percent.

The retailer will break new ground on Sunday as it becomes the first retailer to run a shoppable livestream on Twitter in the U.S.

“Twitter is a platform where we consistently see high return across top- and middle-of-funnel content, so it’s a natural next step for us to explore this new functionality,” wrote Mr. White on a company blog.

He also said the retailer will livestream its events across a wide variety of additional platforms between now and Christmas including BuyWith, BuzzFeed, Facebook, IGN, TalkShopLive, Tasty, and YouTube.

Walmart management is confident in its strategy, having tested livestreaming across five platforms over the past year, including on TikTok and YouTube.

“Discovery and inspiration can happen anywhere, and we want to make sure we are meeting our customers where they are,” wrote Mr. White. “The success of these livestream events and growth of our business are telling us that we’re headed down the right path. We will continue to curate special experiences for our customers who live in dynamic, immersive environments and allow customers to shop seamlessly while also being entertained.”

Mr. White added, “We believe the future of retail lies in social commerce, which is why we’re focusing on innovating in the space as we continue to offer our customers ways to live better — whether online, or in store.”

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you agree that the future of retail lies in social commerce? Can you intuit any lessons from Walmart’s livestreaming experience to date and choices made moving forward?

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Braintrust
"While the future of retail does not fully rest on social, social commerce will become a bigger and lucrative selling channel for retailers."

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13 Comments on "Walmart is going livestreaming for the holidays"


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Katie Thomas
BrainTrust

I absolutely believe that social commerce is an important element of the future of retail. That said, I’d love to see some large retailers exploring new and different options, rather than just testing livestreaming. As we know, it’s been quite successful in China but the American market has different complexities and nuances. In particular, we’ve seen a major return to stores which inherently is social commerce as well. I would love to see more experimentation in this space!

Michael La Kier
BrainTrust

While the future of retail does not fully rest on social, social commerce will become a bigger and lucrative selling channel for retailers. It’s a bit of back to the future in terms of livestream selling — QVC anyone? Livestreaming is perfect for products that require more explanation or demonstration. This is a smart move.

Patricia Vekich Waldron
Staff

Engaging with customers where they express their needs, desires and aspirations – IRL and digital – is a must for retailers and brands. With more action online, especially from Gen Z and beyond, livestreaming and social commerce is the place to be.

Chris Buecker
BrainTrust

Livestreaming will be the next big thing for retailers in the Western world. China´s tech giants Alibaba and JD.com are leading the way in this.

Jeff Sward
BrainTrust

Yes the future of retail lies in social commerce. And I am enormously relieved that Mr. White quickly blends online and in-store into that definition. It was only a question of time for who would be tapping into livestreaming because yes, discovery and inspiration can happen anywhere. While I am surprised that it’s Walmart that seems to be leading the charge, credit is due. They have a long way to go to elevate their in-store experience, but they are clearly pushing the envelope on every front of the customer experience. More and more I appreciate Steve Dennis’s call out of “hybrid and harmonized.” That summary captures it all quite nicely.

Liza Amlani
BrainTrust

Social commerce is absolutely part of the future of retail but it is not the heart of what retailers need to focus on. All strategies should be about building deeper relationships with customers and engaging with them where THEY are.

This is why Walmart’s push towards social commerce makes sense – this is where their customers and new target shoppers are engaging with brands. As long as authentic influencers (and associates) are believable brand ambassadors and product experts, livestreaming can be the perfect way to truly connect with today’s customer.

Melissa Minkow
BrainTrust

Social commerce is absolutely the future of retail, as young consumers are tuned into social networks 24/7 and are getting inspired there. Walmart is smart to host livestreaming via existing social networks, where its shoppers already are, versus requiring consumers to download and learn a new platform just to buy.

Gary Sankary
BrainTrust

That future is already here. Livestreaming events have shown to have very positive ROI as measured in engagement. If Walmart’s “experiment” produces actual revenue, and I suspect it will, I think this will become mainstream very quickly.

Raj B. Shroff
BrainTrust

I totally agree with the other panelists, great move by Walmart. I think the future of retail lies in engaging consumers where they are, not only in social commerce. A well thought-out strategy includes multiple points for engagement, distributed retail which is not only focused on traditional e-commerce or stores. What I can intuit is that they understand this reality. Stick to traditional and you leave money on the table. Stick to traditional and you miss reaching younger audiences and/or different types of audiences. Glad to see Walamrt flexing some creativity and boldness in this space.

Richard Hernandez
BrainTrust

The future is now and Walmart is at the head of the line. The social component is critical to retail and drives interest as well as spending monies.
I see more retailers following very soon.

Dave Bruno
BrainTrust

Engaging with shoppers on their terms is critical to success, and livestreaming on Twitter and TikTok is a great way to reach them. The trick will be to develop content that engages them. While I am not convinced that influencers are the best livestreaming alternative, I believe they should be a part of the content strategy, complemented by a heavy mix of store associates and customers.

Dion Kenney
Guest
14 days 23 hours ago

Once again, we see great minds leveraging technology in new ways to innovate in the retail industry. Walmart’s use of social commerce demonstrates the recognition of the changing social landscape and a willingness to adapt to new consumer behavior. The future may be uncertain, but I am certain that successful retailers will continue to look for ways to adapt tech for competitive advantage.

Richard J. George, Ph.D.
BrainTrust

No doubt social media is the new communication’s channel. The biggest opportunity comes in the form of creating a dialog with your target market. The only question is, how does this latest tactic fit its overall strategy? Remember, Walmart has built its legacy on price.

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Braintrust
"While the future of retail does not fully rest on social, social commerce will become a bigger and lucrative selling channel for retailers."

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