Livestream shopping, especially via mobile, is the hot new way to connect brands and consumers. Now, Facebook is muscling in on the action with the news that it’s testing a feature to let people purchase products they see in a livestream on the social media platform.
TechCrunch first reported that the Menlo Park, Calif.-based social network is trialing the shopping feature in Thailand with a limited number of sellers, though it’s inviting new merchants to join a waitlist that would give them access to the new tool.
Here’s how it works: for now, the feature only works through businesses with Pages, which can notify followers that they’re beginning a livestream. If viewers of the livestream see a product they like, they can take a screenshot and send it to the seller via Messenger. At that point the seller can request payment from the customer and the transaction is complete.
The move follows Facebook’s patent application for a system that allows a Messenger-based chatbot to handle payments and transactions for the more than 1.3 billion people who use the social media company’s messaging platform. Overall, more than 2.27 billion people actively use Facebook each month, according to data from Statista.
In its Q3 2018 earnings call, Facebook CEO Marck Zuckerberg told analysts that “video is a critical part of the future,” according to a Seeking Alpha transcript.
Commerce could be a significant push for Facebook as it runs out of ad inventory in its news feed and searches for other ways to generate revenue. What’s more, if Facebook expands the shoppable livestream feature more broadly, it could compete directly with efforts by Qurate’s QVC and HSN home shopping businesses, which have been focusing on broadcasting their shows via Facebook in a bid to court younger consumers.
Online commerce long has relied on photos to show potential customers details and features but video better conveys how a product looks, moves, and drapes (in the case of clothing), and can be styled, worn and used.