Social Chain is hoping to pioneer the start of online "shoppertainment" in the West by launching shoppable live streams through Facebook.
The Manchester-based social media marketing agency has launched the product to give brands the chance to provide users with a "seamless buyer journey" to any brand and vertical.
To use the service, users begin by commenting on a live Facebook video to start the buying process. The purchase journey has four steps: comment on a live video to activate a chatbot; confirm the product you’re interested in; continue to checkout; and complete your purchase.
Live-streaming has become a major commerce channel in China and Southeast Asia in the past two years. Influencers use live streams to review or promote products, while shoppers buy items from a catalogue without needing to close the live stream.
Last year, Kim Kardashian West took part in China’s massive shopping event Singles Day by taking part in a live stream alongside Viya, a Chinese influencer, to sell perfume.
However, live-stream ecommerce is not yet being offered by American social media platforms. In 2018, Facebook was reportedly in the process of testing out a similar feature that would have enabled merchants to sell products on live videos.
Ecommerce is a major growth area for Facebook and its picture-sharing platform Instagram. Last year Instagram launched Checkout, which enables users to buy products directly via promoted posts without having to exit to another website or app.
Connor Jones, creative output and innovation lead at Social Chain, explained that the agency created a workaround using its own proprietary software, rather than waiting for Facebook to do it.
Jones said: "Commerce is now every social platform’s priority, and when we saw the impact live-shopping was having within the APAC regions, we questioned why Western social platforms weren’t offering this yet... We now have a unique workaround using proprietary software built by Social Chain, and are able to offer Shoppable live streams with a seamless buyer journey to any brand in any vertical."