Digital Marketing Redux   //   December 14, 2023

How brands like Tupperware Australia are making live shopping work

In a vertical video from a fully-stocked kitchen, a woman named Tash welcomes viewers before showing off Tupperware’s silicone baking molds. Down in the chat, Tupperware staff answer questions and promote a 10% off code that will work sitewide for that night only. 

It was the first live shopping event for the Tupperware Australia brand, and 68% of the hundreds of viewers wound up converting. 

“You’re actually elevating that customer experience, and giving them something else something extra that they can’t just pop online and do a search and get otherwise,” said Yulin Tan, head of marketing for Tupperware Australia. 

Many retail marketing experts wondered if 2023 would be the year that live shopping hit the mainstream after booming success in China, where 45% of online shoppers use livestream. But it has yet to penetrate in markets like the United States, Europe or Latin America. Inside Intelligence found that 14% of U.S. adults have made a purchase from a livestream shopping event as of August. Still, that hasn’t stopped brands from experimenting and coming up with new strategies.

While “going live” may be a common tactic that brands use on social media, much of the successful live shopping activity is actually happening on-platform, with companies like Charlotte Tilbury and Best Buy doing lives for holiday shopping from their site. Secondhand marketplace Poshmark has made it a major focus of its growth strategy. Shopify has 41 apps in its store to help enable brands to go live, according to data shared with Modern Retail. Since the beginning of 2023, the number of Shopify stores with a live shopping app installed has increased 30%. But live shopping is also a burgeoning presence on TikTok Shop, with the platform commission a survey last year that found 50% of users bought something after a TIkTok Live.

For Tan, who previously worked in marketing at L’Oreal, there’s little downside to experimenting with live shopping.

“There’s everything to gain,” she said. “If you’re a brand that’s customer-centric, I think this is the way forward.”

On-platform successes

For Tupperware, one of the best known direct sales brands in the world, having its sales force go live is a way to fuel business. Members of its sales force are rewarded the more they sell, meaning those who can succeed in going live are benefitting themselves and the business. While the brand has struggled to retain relevancy in the 21st century, going live is a modern version of the Tupperware parties of the mid-century that cropped up during the pandemic.

With its pilot test, Tupperware is inviting top performers out of its 10,000-member sales force to host the live events. And as experts in the product themselves, the consultants already primed with a pitch to describe them to viewers — whether that’s how the product works, how to clean it or recipe ideas.

“We have just some really, really passionate and very highly creative product-trained, demonstrators, and we just need to give them a platform to be able to do (online parties) really well and close the loop,” she said.

Tan said hosting the events via Tupperware’s own site is beneficial because the viewer can shop without having to turn off the stream. And a critical hook is offering a time-limited incentive to “create a little bit of FOMO,” like a special bundled offer or promo code. “That helps seal the deal for a lot of people,” she said.

For this pilot, Tupperware Austrailia partnered with the platform Buywith. The livestream facilitating company closed a $9.5 million seed round last year and also works with Walmart. But this fall, Buywith was added to Shopify, which co-founder and CEO Adi Ronen said makes live shopping more accessible for brands. The brands can set up the stream from a mobile phone, but they can have access to engagement data and collect emails for re-marketing efforts. 

The pricing structure is set up to support brands of all sizes, with the app being free to install for very small merchants, and pricing going up based on the numbers of visitors to the website. 

“It’s all really built for scale,” Ronen said. “We enable very small merchants, and they’re installing us and they could find us on Shopify in the app marketplace. But then for us, we really invested in targeting mid-sized brands as well.”

Driving sales from TikTok

But getting viewers to a webpage to view and shop on a live event is a challenge in and of itself. Tan from Tupperware uses invites and RSVPs to help remind folks to log on. As a platform, Buywith said the platform can simulcast on social, helping to drive followers onto the page to convert. But she said the brand will also start looking into live shopping via TikTok as a way to connect with younger shoppers.

Other brands are already seeing successes there. MyGemma is a secondhand online marketplace that sells designer purses and jewelry. Since February, the brand has enabled livestreaming from TikTok and other channels, hosting about 20 events a week. Sales from the platform account for about 15% of revenue this year, with CEO Andrew Brown saying that could be as high as 25% next year. 

The brand, which has about 17,700 TikTok followers, was one of the launch partners for TikTok Shop. Viewers can register for upcoming events — December, for example, featured a “Holiday Deals” shows — that run at different times. Hosts are either MyGemma staff or creators and influencers invited in by the brand. In one recent show, the host stood in front of a display of luxury bags and answers questions about a black Chanel crossbody for $2,802. “An easy, breezy bag,” she called it. “This is truly a little bit of a steal.”

Beyond TikTok, MyGemma also does live shopping streams on Whatnot, a social marketplace for resellers, and the channels of the creators who sell to their audiences. 

“For us, livestream is an identified channel of opportunity,” Brown said. ”We’ve seen over the last several years how impactful it has been on luxury in China. And while it was slow in coming here, we felt — at least last year and kind of during and post-Covid — that it was definitely going to be a factor and something that we should get involved in.”

Additional reporting by Julia Waldow.