Li Jiagi, also known as Austin Li, is China's "King of Lipsticks."

MILAN Are livestream sales the new frontier of the retail business?

If Chinese influencers like Li Jiaqi and Viya can sell 15,000 lipsticks in five minutes and five commercial rocket launch packages each valued at $6.3 million in a livestream, respectively, why shouldn’t major luxury players and wholesalers take advantage of this new digital commerce solution?

The incredible success of livestream shopping sessions in the Far East emerged as a key trend that will influence the near future of the global fashion and retail industry, according to speakers at the latest, this time virtual, edition of Pitti Immagine’s e-Pitti summit dedicated to innovation and technology.

“Social distancing and the reduction of mobility caused by the pandemic are imposing a digital escalation that has to involve the industry’s whole supply chain, including the brick-and-mortar,” said Giacomo Santucci, chairman of the national chamber of Italian buyers, who cited the initiatives featuring engagement among stores, influencers and consumers developed by brands on Chinese platforms, such as Taobao, WeChat and Weibo, as new exciting forms of effective social selling. “In this perspective, the brick-and-mortar becomes an entertainment platform giving a push to the digital commerce. I think that this transformation of the physical space into a stage to create interactions with the consumers will become key to attract new customers and boost sales, which will be more and more finalized online.”

Farfetch‘s Store of the Future executive vice president Sandrine Deveaux couldn’t agree more. “Physical retail is certainly not dead, but for sure it has to be reinvented very quickly. People will continue going to stores because luxury is not a commodity. Online shopping is definitely convenient, but luxury consumers look for experiences,” she said. “I really believe that stores will become more and more experimental, engaging deeper with consumers.”

For example, she explained how in collaboration with Farfetch, Chanel built an app for its consumers that enables them to check in when they enter the brand’s stores, allowing shopping assistants to have a clear view of what they like and are looking for. At the same time, magic mirrors inside the changing rooms offer customers an immersion into the label’s storytelling. “It’s all about humanizing technology to offer very new, innovative and engaging experiences,” Deveaux added.

Gucci and Genies

Gucci will be able to outfit avatars through a new deal with Genies.  Courtesy of Gucci

Gucci in May kicked off a video call service accessible from the brand’s web site. Trained shopping advisers offer private shopping sessions from a dedicated set, reproducing the look and feel of Gucci’s stores, installed at the Gucci9 client service center in Florence. “Every service we deliver is permeated with the creative vision of our creative director Alessandro Michele. The goal is always to blur the lines between the store and the client service,” explained Gucci vice president of client services Vasilis Dimitropoulos. While the video call service is available mainly for accessories, Dimitropoulos reveled it will be soon expanded to ready-to-wear.

With livestreaming sales and social selling offering interesting opportunities to fashion brands and wholesalers, the start-ups active in this field are attracting investors, despite the overall lower investments in start-ups registered in 2020. According to Fashion Tech Accelerator chief executive officer Giusy Cannone, even if direct- to-consumer commerce and second-hand remain the most appealing sectors for tech investors, the gaming industry, as well as the providers of livestream shopping sessions and the creators of virtual clothing, will ignite the arena soon. For example, in March, Goumee, a Chinese livestreaming fashion e-commerce platform, raised $15 million.

In fact, giving consumers what they are asking for is not enough anymore, according to Facebook and Instagram Italy agency and fashion lead Mariano Di Benedetto. “It’s key now for brands and retailers to flush still-unexpressed desires and generate the demand for new products,” he said, praising the huge potential of discovering shopping technologies to stimulate purchases, while simultaneously establishing strong relationships with consumers.

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