EP13: What Is Amazon Live?
What is Amazon Live? a conversation with Raphaël Menesclou, head of marketing at DataHawk and Prateek Haralalka, head of customer success also at DataHawk.
Raphael: Folks, do you remember these teleshopping channels on TV when you were a kid? I mean, this still exists, but they will go on and on all day selling this magical smoothies mixer that is quick to clean, these incredible diet pills that will make you lose 30 pounds in, you know, five days? Do you remember? Well, I think we can all agree that there was kind of lame, right? Until Amazon came across it. Now picture this. A mix between teleshopping, where you spice it up with influencers, live streaming, social platform, and eCommerce gives you tele-shipping. 2.0. This is Amazon Live. How did Amazon make teleshopping sexy again? That’s what we’re going to talk about today in this episode. Hello and welcome to this new episode of the DataHawk eCommerce podcast. I am Raphael, Head of Marketing at DataHawk and creator and host of the show and it’s my aim to help you improve your eCommerce business. I am not alone in this mission. I am assisted with Pat, our favorite Amazon expert and Head of Customer Success here at DataHawk. Pat, what’s up, buddy?
Prateek: Hey, how’s it going Raphael?
Raphael: Good. Thanks so much for being on the show today.
Prateek: It’s a pleasure. Thank you for having me.
Raphael: Pat, why are we talking about Amazon Live today?
Prateek: Raphael, if I told you that there’s a guy who worked for L’Oreal in physical retail as a salesman, right, and is now a celebrity with 30 million TikTok views and 6.5 million followers and 2 million daily live stream viewers, would you then be maybe interested in talking about Amazon Live?
Raphael: Yeah, that’s, uh, you bet I will be.
Prateek: That’s the story of Austin Lee. He is one of China’s biggest live stream influences. And guess what he’s generally demoing.
Raphael: I don’t know. Smartphone cases?
Raphael: Power banks?
Raphael: Sunglasses? I don’t know. All right, I give my tongue to the cat. Can you say this in English? I don’t know.
Prateek: The cat got my tongue.
Raphael: Yeah. Please tell me.
Raphael: So, Austin Lee is,
Prateek: A guy, and he demos lipstick.
Raphael: It’s 2021. I’m not surprised.
Prateek: He demos lipstick and he does so on his own lips, right? And he’s watched by 2 million viewers every single night.
Prateek: Yeah. Too bad you’re such an Alpha male, Raphael. You could be sitting on Taobao by putting lipstick on your lips and be watched by 2 million people every night.
Raphael: Pat, you’re making me consider a career move right now. No, but this is very interesting. But why live streaming in China?
Prateek: Well, that’s because China has been setting the trends in eCommerce for years now, right? Let me explain. Okay, so live video shopping is already big in China, right? In 2019, live streaming accounted for 9% of total eCommerce revenues in China, which was about 850 billion. So, 9% of that would be about, what, 70, 75 billion or so, right?
Prateek: So, some of the biggest brands in the world, L’Oréal, Estée Lauder, Huawei, Xiaomi, among others, they’re already operating their own brand streams on Taobao and crushing it.
Raphael: Taobao is what? It’s a social network, like Youtube? The Chinese YouTube?
Prateek: No, it’s an eCommerce platform owned by Alibaba. Alibaba operates two platforms in China. One is Taobao, the other is T-mall.
Raphael: Got it.
Prateek: T-mall is very, let’s say, exclusive. It’s only open to, let’s say, limited brands, and they have to sort of be invited, whereas Taobao is like the Amazon of China. But they are not merchants in the sense they don’t sell themselves.
Raphael: Got it.
Prateek: You know how on Amazon. Do you have Amazon one P where Amazon is also the retailer? Taobao is only a platform. They don’t sell directly to shoppers.
Raphael: Okay. Right. Taobao. Got it.
Prateek: Nice little quiz for me. There are about 430 million people who watched live streams in 2019, and that’s about 30% of China’s total population, right? Exactly, right? And about 37% of all online shoppers made live stream purchases, right?
Raphael: Wow. At least one time.
Prateek: Exactly, right? Look, the influencer scene is pretty big in China. They are referred to as Key Opinion Leaders or KOLs. Right. And shoppers look to them for recommendations, right?
Prateek: The way it works in China is these celebrity influences or KOLs. They generally appear each night for about 4 hours, right? Between, let’s say, 8:00 PM and midnight. Each hour, they show about twelve products, right? Yeah. So about 48 products in 4 hours and most of these products carry deep discounts, and the items sell out in seconds.
Prateek: In addition, Raphael, in addition to receiving a flat appearance fee, these KOLs, make a commission, too, on sales.
Raphael: Okay. Yeah, of course. Yeah.
Prateek: And thanks to the Kardashians, influencers have been a thing in America for a while now. Look, if there’s one thing that the Kardashian family will be remembered for, it’s for having pioneered the concept of influences.
Raphael: But I don’t see Kim Kardashian, like doing 4 hours shows, 12:30 every night on Instagram. Do you know what I’m saying? It’s kind of different. A new concept.
Prateek: I completely agree there. Absolutely. So anyhow, live shopping is now starting to be embraced in the US, right? Look, if it’s this big in China, it’s only a matter of time before it becomes massive in the US, too.
Raphael: Absolutely. And in Europe, too. Absolutely.
Prateek: Exactly, right? And Amazon is looking to tap into this massive opportunity. For starts, it drives engagement on their website, and it would argue traffic too, right? We all know everybody loves video. I mean, believe me, it’s 10:00 PM, I’m on YouTube, and the next thing I know, suddenly it’s midnight. I don’t know where the 2 hours went.
Raphael: The YouTube hole.
Prateek: YouTube hole. I like that. YouTube hole. Okay. These live videos, they’re a great way to get shoppers to spend more time on Amazon by watching videos. And gradually, it will grow the size of the pie, right? Meaning it will start to attract more visitors over time.
Raphael: Of course, the flywheel effect. We talk about it every episode.
Prateek: Exactly. So, you know, Raphael, Amazon actually dabbled around in live stream shopping back in 2016, right? But you probably didn’t even notice, right? This is why they can get it by May of 2017. But this is like you mentioned, 2.0. And it’s different, right? And Amazon is using this weapon very tactfully. Now, for example, on prime days last year, in November 2020, Amazon let its influencers know which products would be running deals, right? This allows the influencers to produce live streams involving the featured products as a shopper. Isn’t that cool? But like you said, they make teleshopping sexy again.
Raphael: That’s great. Can you tell us why live stream shopping is becoming so popular? What’s the reason underneath?
Prateek: Absolutely. So, one of the biggest boosts to live stream came from COVID. Of course, shoppers couldn’t go to malls, right? They couldn’t leave home, they couldn’t meet friends, and so on. People were pining for human engagement, right? And boom, live streaming just took off, right? According to research, Raphael, a video impression delivers an ROI that is three times that resulting from a digital display, like a static image, for example, right? And that’s not surprising because just think of how engaged you are when watching a video, right? Your sight, your hearing, your emotions, all of it, right? And also think about it this way. If you were in shopping mode and came across something you liked and if you had a question, you would have had to send, let’s say the seller an email, then probably wait for a couple of days to get a reply, right? Or you would have maybe just purchased a different item that had a better listing and left you with no doubt, right? But live shopping eliminates that wait time for you and the risk of losing a sale on the part of the brand. If you have a question, you can ask during the live stream and have it answered in real-time. And it doesn’t just feel transactional, there’s so much more to it, right? You forge a real connection with the influencer. It’s interactive, it’s a group activity. It’s fun. It’s an experience.
Raphael: Is there like a chat on the side where you.
Raphael: So, you talk with the people also?
Prateek: Yes. You ask your questions, you get responses, there are reactions, there’s so much going on. Right. And there’s also that follow option, allowing brands to create a following, for lack of a better word, right? These followers would then be notified whenever you went live, thereby fostering engagement and building, let’s say, the loyalty of sorts over time.
Raphael: I’m, yeah.
Prateek: Trying to process all of that.
Raphael: Yeah. When we think about marketing, right, it’s all about the funnel.
Raphael: Okay. Is there a specific stage of the funnel when Amazon live is most impactful?
Prateek: Yeah, that’s an interesting question, Raphael. I think given the nature of live streaming and how interactive it is, I think one of the most powerful aspects of live streaming is just how quickly it can take shoppers from the discovery phase to the buying stage, right?
Raphael: Speed up the process. Absolutely, yeah.
Prateek: Exactly. So, what I mean is, because of the experiential, engaging, and interactive environment that shoppers are in during a live stream, it’s possible to have them see your products for the first time via a live stream and then take them through the entire funnel during the live stream itself, right? All the way to the buying stage.
Raphael: And if for some reason they created, like, a connection with you as the main guy, there’s this peer influence that is extremely important. It’s Psychology 101.
Prateek: Very good point. It’s like if, let’s say there are 20 people watching the live stream and five people say, oh, I’m going to buy that product, that sort of boosts your confidence in that thing and like peer pressure/influence kicks in.
Raphael: Yeah. Okay. So, let’s say that I want to become that lead guy tomorrow. I want to start selling lipsticks. Why not? What are the requirements like? Is it open to everyone and is it available in France, for example, if I want to start tomorrow?
Prateek: Unfortunately, no. Raphael. No. It’s not available in France at the moment. It’s only available on.com, and it’s only open to brand registered sellers and vendors, right?
Raphael: Okay. So how does it work?
Prateek: Yes. So, there are essentially two ways for brands to go about it, right? They can either publish videos via their own Amazon Live account.
Raphael: So, it’s not live anymore.
Prateek: It is life. They can either do live videos on their own Amazon Live account or via the act of an influencer.
Raphael: Got it.
Prateek: If you want to do it via your own account, you just need to download the Amazon Live Creator app.
Raphael: Okay. So, what’s that app now?
Prateek: It’s pretty simple, right? Once you download the app and you open it, you’ll be asked how you want to log in, whether as a seller, a vendor, an influencer, and so on. So that way, for example, if you’re a seller or vendor, Amazon can associate you with your products. It’s pretty straightforward from there, right? You choose the product or products you want to live stream. You give your live stream a title and a time, and that’s pretty much it.
Raphael: So my next question is, what’s the cost?
Prateek: That’s the real kicker. It’s free. It doesn’t cost a dime.
Raphael: No way.
Prateek: Yeah. If you want your live stream to be seen by more people, you have the option to pay to Boost it. According to Amazon, boosting your live stream would display your video across various advertising placements on Amazon.com and the Amazon Shopping app. Including product detail pages. Essentially, boosting your live stream allows you to pay to extend the reach of your live stream.
Raphael: So, you pay, is it like ads? So, you select some keywords, and then you how does it work? Do you see what I mean? Okay, I want my Live Influencer video to be displayed when people are researching forks because I’m selling forks right now. Is that how it works?
Prateek: That’s interesting. Yeah, that’s interesting. That’s a little bit of a side project for me. I’ll need to figure that out. I’m not familiar with too much of them because it’s still sort of in the nascent stages, but I’ll definitely look into it.
Raphael: So that kind of serves like a Pay ad.
Raphael: Okay. So, when it comes to advertising, we know that Amazon provides a lot of data, right? Do they provide the same metrics for live streams, too, like ACOs, clicks, all that stuff?
Prateek: Yeah. Unfortunately, it’s lagging behind in terms of metrics. And KPIs brands don’t have as much visibility into the sales driven by live streaming. The closest thing to tracking conversions, in this case, is the CTR, the click-through rate. So, when you’re watching the live stream, there’s this crucial underneath the video and you can see featured products there, and you can track the CTR for these products. As for the video itself, you just get views and unmuted views. That’s it. Attribution is hard.
Raphael: It’s recent, right? It’s a very new feature that they’re still building.
Prateek: It’s evolving.
Raphael: Got it. Thank you, Pat. Can you maybe give our listeners some tips, as in some live streaming best practice?
Prateek: Absolutely. In fact, Amazon has published a live streaming best practice, and they’re pretty straightforward. Right. For example, they recommend live streaming for at least 30 minutes at a time. In order for Amazon shoppers to discover your live stream while you’re alive, make sure to live stream for at least 30 minutes at a time, right? Talk about maybe multiple products. Engage with Shoppers in chat. Reiterate key messages to increase the length of your live stream. Look for live streaming, as with other things in life, the longer the better.
Raphael: Pat, let’s keep our podcast PG-13, okay? Thank you.
Prateek: Secondly, encourage your audience to interact and follow your channel, right? Ask Shoppers to send in a question or ask them to click on the reactions button. Ask Shoppers to follow your brand if they liked your stream to receive notifications about future live streams and just other updates.
Raphael: Okay. Okay.
Prateek: Thirdly, you can use calls to action. Remember to sell and restate or reiterate key messages. Make sure to refer to the carousel. For example, say something like, check out all of the quotes. Exactly. Right. While you’re alive and highlight the key features and selling points about your product. Look, because shoppers can come in and out of your stream at different times, don’t be afraid to come back to points that you’ve made already. Right. I’d recommend referencing that new shoppers may have joined you by saying something like, for those who just joined, et cetera.
Raphael: It’s life, everything’s live, people come and go. Yeah.
Raphael: So, it’s kind of like a YouTuber that is trying to make it, right? You need to create, like an identity to your live stream. Maybe a nice background. I don’t know if you’re,
Prateek: Absolutely. So, you can keep it however you want. There is no rule there if you just want to. There’s this woman who does these, she recently launched a cookbook. She was just doing a simple video in the kitchen of herself making a nice meal,
Raphael: Based on the cookbook?
Prateek: Yeah, exactly. She took one of the recipes from her own cookbook, and there was just like a laptop sitting on the table on the side where she could answer people’s questions.
Raphael: Very homey vibes, yeah.
Prateek: Exactly. So, you can make it complex if you want. But that’s totally up to you.
Raphael: So, she was only selling one product. Only her cookbook.
Prateek: That’s the thing. It didn’t seem like she was selling anything. She was sort of launching maybe her cookbook, but she was preparing a real recipe to live in the kitchen.
Raphael: So, you can end up like watching a very interesting video on Amazon.
Raphael: To sell the video.
Prateek: Exactly. So, I was about to tell you, one of the recommendations from Amazon is to show your product in action. So, for example, I remember that I watched this one company that was launching, I think speakers and these were waterproof speakers or something. So, they did the launch next to a swimming pool. In a swimming pool environment. And I think they dipped the what do you call it? The speaker in the water, et cetera, to sort of really demonstrate that yes, their speakers were, in fact, waterproof and things like that.
Prateek: Yeah. And just engage with your shoppers live, right? Because they’re going to ask questions like what is the item feels like? What are the ingredients in there? Things like that. So, answer their questions. Engage with them. If somebody is asking you, giving you a reaction, call them out. Just say hi to them. Look, live streaming is different from other videos because it’s interactive and it’s engaging, right? So, make sure to really engage your audience as they watch.
Prateek: And remember, Rafael, finally, the last tip is to share your live stream with your audience off Amazon. So, this is a throwback to the A10 episode. Remember that Amazon loves for you to bring traffic to Amazon. As such, I highly recommend using the link in the Amazon Life Creator app to promote your Amazon Live stream to your mailing lists and to your social media audiences, et cetera, right? There’s a strong performance when brands actively promote their streams.
Raphael: Yeah. I’m just thinking, can you add the replay of your Amazon Live video to you’re plus content or on your listing or something like that?
Prateek: Interesting. I do know that let’s say if you want to add as a viewer, if you go to Amazon on the left, there’s a menu. You can click on Amazon Live and then you get to see an option, watch Live or Recently Live videos. If you go to Recently Live, you can see videos that have just concluded.
Raphael: Okay. You can’t go back. It’s still the beginning. You can browse a library of videos.
Prateek: Exactly. It has an uncanny resemblance to YouTube.
Raphael: This is extremely, extremely interesting and I think we need to,
Prateek: I’m glad you think that way.
Raphael: I think it’s a new platform and every time there’s a new platform where people can express themselves, that to sell or to express ideas or whatever. People will find new ways to explore this platform. We need to keep an eye on it.
Raphael: That’s a wrap, people. Thanks, Pat, for your advice.
Prateek: Thank you so much for having me
Raphael: And demystifying today. Thanks for listening people and have a great week to all of you. Bye-bye.
Prateek: Bonjour. Bye bye.
Raphael: Bonjour. Bye bye.