Do you know what QVC stands for?

The American home shopping channel’s name is short for Quality, Value, Convenience. And for nearly four decades, it has lived up to that name. But now there’s an even more convenient way to shop from the comfort of your home, and it’s called livestream shopping.

For decades, QVC has showed up in viewers’ homes, offering the kind of real-life product demonstrations that were previously only available in showrooms. People could buy blenders and jewelry sets and treadmills from the comfort of their own living rooms by simply picking up the phone and reading out their credit card numbers.

But they were still being sold to by salespeople on a soundstage, people who spoke in slogans and hit their marks.

Livestream shopping is QVC democratized. 

It can turn anyone—you, me, your favorite influencer, your neighbor down the block—into a salesperson. They can produce content from their own homes. And the buying process is even simpler: no phone calls required. 

In this post, we’ll talk about the impact that livestream shopping is already having in the eCommerce space.

This piece is part of our series Growth Reimagined: eComm Strategies That Work, No Lease Required, where we interviewed growth experts in different fields, all of whom have seen a surge of demand from eCommerce companies or have built products and strategies specifically to address those companies’ needs:

  1. The Art of the Pop-Up, Redux
  2. The Future of Influencer Marketing Is Here
  3. Meet You at the (Virtual) Mall: An Intro to Livestream Shopping
  4. Expos and Trade Shows Are Back—We’ll See You There

We talked about how pop-ups are a great way for companies to explore product fit and build brand awareness in a low-stakes way. We revealed that the future of influencer marketing is all about unlocking “nano influencers,” or everyday consumers, and turning them into ambassadors. And now we’ll combine the temporary, space-based activation of pop-ups with the virality of influencer marketing to look at the biggest thing to hit commerce since QVC: livestream shopping.

What is livestream shopping?

Livestream shopping works like this: someone streams, or live-records, themselves as they showcase products, and viewers can ask questions, send comments and feedback, and buy the products being shown. 

Elements of livestream shopping:

  • The video feed of the host or influencer showing products and talking
  • The chat box where viewers can ask questions and share comments
  • The react button to send non-verbal feedback (hearts, likes, etc.)
  • The product integration, which usually shows up as a box at the bottom of the video with product details and a purchase button
  • Optional: buttons to save the video for later, coupons that are activated upon watching the video, special deals or discounts available to viewers

Livestream shopping vs social commerce:

Livestream shopping is different from social commerce, which is a static ability to make purchases on a social media platform.

It's more personal and interactive than just seeing clothes linked to an influencer’s Instagram page, for example:


Popular linked shopping platform LIKEtoKNOWit, which many Instagram influencers use to share products with followers.


This screenshot from the ShopShops app demo shows how livestream shopping makes the product integration more intimate and interactive.

Livestream shopping invites consumers into someone’s home or product space, allows them to ask questions in real time, and humanizes the buying process. It’s like having the QVC salesperson in front of you. Viewers can see products up-close and feel a sense of community with a brand—and in a social-distance-friendly way.

Brands can host big shopping “parties” around themes, like creating a Father’s Day shopping spree event to showcase appropriate gifts for dads, or can sell by partnering with individual “hosts” to feature their products in more of an influencer model.

Livestream shopping can happen in-app, like with Amazon Live, or on separate apps.

Livestream shopping market size:

And it’s a quickly-growing market—Coresight Research estimates the U.S. livestream shopping market to reach $11B by the end of this year, and to more than double by 2023. That’s nothing compared to its impact in China, where it’s slated to hit $300B by the end of 2021.

Why is livestream shopping appealing to consumers?

To answer this question, we turned to Tiffany Shi, VP of Product & Growth at ShopShops, a livestream shopping platform, and asked her why consumers are more open than ever to try out livestream shopping.

“Our goal is to help our customers shop global like a local,” says Tiffany. “While shops are starting to open up, our value to our customers is the ability to shop globally through livestream. You can be sitting on your couch in Brooklyn and shopping for handmade leather bags with one of our hosts in Milan, then swipe and immediately be in Japan walking through cherry blossoms with another host, and shopping for Japanese porcelain plates.”

She anticipates customers sticking around long after the pandemic, too: “Consumers are looking for more authentic ways to connect to shopping—it isn't enough to be able to buy a pair of socks easily on the internet, consumers want to feel more connected to the stores or brands they are shopping from and livestream is a great way to enable that,” explains Tiffany.

Why is livestream shopping a good idea for retailers?

Opportunities for brands to increase sales without shelling out for it are always a good idea (that’s why offering warranties is a great way to drive revenue). Livestream shopping is an easy, low-to-no overhead way to experiment in that space, while also increasing customer engagement, says Tiffany. 

“Brands not only get a new source of revenue, often with very little investment—you can literally go live and sell from your phone—they also get to participate in a whole new way of interacting with their customers [and] build deeper relationships,” she says.

How can social shopping add a new angle to other sales and marketing initiatives?

If our blogs on pop-ups or influencer marketing convinced you to invest in those areas, great—they integrate really well into a livestream shopping experience.

“Shoppers LOVE a beautifully designed space that helps enhance the value proposition of their products,” says Tiffany. “Pop-ups are a great way to build that kind of experience for shoppers, and livestream is a great way to amplify that experience to shoppers around the world.”

What does the future of livestream shopping look like?

Across the board, livestream shopping is evolving from a focus on beauty and fashion (which are well-suited to the showcase model) to be appealing to eCommerce companies of all stripes. Furniture sellers are showcasing what their pieces look like in real settings and how to style them, and technology retailers are sharing how to set up and integrate their products.

Here are the other livestream shopping trends Tiffany expects to see in the space over the next few months:

  • Likely to follow in Asia’s footsteps. “I thought the growth would be quite different in the US [than in Asia] because I assumed consumer behavior is different. However, the more I am in the space, the more I realize how similar consumer shopping behavior really is across the globe!” says Tiffany.
  • Not necessarily only for younger buyers. “I expected a younger demographic to be more interested in what we are doing, but we are seeing shoppers of all ages,” she adds.
  • $$$. ShopShops is expecting “explosive growth in the next few years,” says Tiffany.

Ready to try it out?

Livestream shopping more than meets our rubric for a good marketing initiative: for consumers, it offers authenticity, flexibility, safety, and a community; for retailers, it’s an opportunity to open a new sales channel and drive revenue without much risk, while building brand affinity and experimenting with new products. It has a lot of the same benefits as pop-ups without requiring you to operate out of a physical space, and it lets you connect with consumers no matter where they’re located.

QVC, who?

And stay tuned for our fourth and final post in this series, where we’ll talk about how to make physical spaces of the past—think expos, trade shows, and more—work in our new normal!