How Livestreaming Rescued a Popular Chinese Brick-and-Mortar Company From COVID Crises (And How You Can Do the Same)


Picture this: Socialite Kim Kardashian and her sister Khole displaying a few nice-fitting JCPenney jeans on Facebook Live. Bet the jeans would have sold like hotcakes! In short, influencers hawking wares through live videos invariably invite more viewership, more engagement, more entertainment, and more SALES. Sigh!


The fact: JCPenney, the retail giant, has closed nearly 175 stores of its stores until now. In hindsight, the unfortunate situation could have been avoided by the physical stores if they had taken the onslaught of online retail more seriously. And made plans to move away from traditional channels and instead harnessed the power of Live streaming videos and other tech solutions to connect with their audiences.


Anyway, it’s a lost cause now, as with many other retail giants, as pandemic has accelerated their shutdowns. It turns out the retail sector has being teetering on the brink of survival for some years now, and it’s just that the pandemic battered the industry.


The rising number of retail bankruptcies leads us to the question:


Could this pandemic be the final straw that breaks brick-and-mortar’s back?


The answer is yes and no.


Yes, if the stores sit back and reflect on their glory days when retail was super easy and do nothing about improving customer experience. No, if the stores read the writing on the wall and are more than willing to experiment with technologies, such as buy-online-purchase-in-store (BOPIS) curbside-pickup, live streaming, and, embrace phygital practices.


For the uninitiated, not just Livestreaming, even BOPIS and curbside pickup had come to the rescue of several brick-and-mortar stores during the pandemic. We’ll discuss these two solutions some other time. The current article mainly deals with the importance of Livestreaming videos and how Forrest Camp Cosmetics used them to beat Corona crises, and how other businesses can learn from their experience.


Forest Camp Cosmetics Case Study


Sun Laichun, the 46-year-old owner and chief executive of Forest Cabin Cosmetics, a Chinese beauty and skincare brand with over 300 stores nationwide was facing a precarious position. Almost half of his stores were shut down by the end of January 2020. And those that were open rarely drew in customers, which meant that his stores’ sales dropped by almost 90%, bringing him closer to declaring bankruptcy.


“This year, each morning when I open my eyes, I’ve lost 1 million yuan. My cash flow will dry up soon. By March, I might be bankrupt.”


Sun Laichun, CEO of Forest Cabin Cosmetics


In some ways, the cosmetics company was witnessing a repeat of history as his previous cosmetics company was hit by another coronavirus – SARS in 2003.


Instead of losing heart, Sun immediately tuned in to a live streaming platform and played the role of “Cloud beauty advisor.”


It was Valentine’s Day when Sun put on his white shirt and glasses and sold his products for almost two and half hours using a phone, computer, and a lamp.


The result: tens of thousands of viewers spent around 400,000 yuan on his company’s products.


Forest Cabin is one of the millions of brick-and-mortar stores affected by the pandemic and many of them have taken to Livestreaming to save themselves from bankruptcy.


Livestreaming: The Best Retail Marketing Strategy For The 2021 and Beyond


For the uninitiated, Livestream eCommerce has witnessed a dramatic surge in China. According to Forbes, the industry is estimated to make a flabbergasting $ 60 billion annually. On Taobao’s 2020 annual Single-Day Global Shopping Festival, live streams made $ 6 billion in sales, twice the amount compared to the prior year.


Not just China, even United States is climbing on Livestreaming Juggernaut. Consider this: TikTok partnered with Walmart and organized a LiveStream event in December 2020.


Since then, the retail giant has doubled down on TikTok Shopping and hosted several Live Stream Shopping Events.


Best Practices for Livestreaming in 2021


# 1. Use Best Quality Equipment


Needless to say, quality input leads to quality output. In other words, the equipment that you use, be it the cameras or the microphone will directly impact the final results of the video. By taking care of the equipment you use, the final product will undoubtedly be foolproof.


Consider these:


Cameras: Sure, you could work with Webcams. But there’s no replacing professional cameras such as camcorders and DSLRs.


Microphones: Avoid built-in microphones as their audio quality won’t be good enough for live streaming. Opt for external mics as they are a better alternative.


Computer screen: Presentations, video games, and anything else displayed on a computer screen make their way into live streams.


#2. Have a Plan in Place


Imagine a video pregnant with pauses. Without a plan in place, your video would look like one, automatically weaning the audience away from your video.


Nonetheless, you aren’t expected to come up with the entire script right off the bat. However, an outline with topics that you will talk about would keep the video on track. Additionally, a call to action during the streaming and at the end of the streaming would ensure that you get the desired results.


#3. Chat up with your Audience


The million-dollar way to make your audience feel valued and heard is by fielding their questions live. By answering their questions, you are in one sense encouraging them to return for more of your live streams videos. If you are unable to respond live, you can always do it once the video has ended.


Further, you can increase engagement by playing it the other way round by asking questions to the viewers, offering them special offers, and even using funny stickers and filters.


#4. Let your Guest Hijack Your Live Streaming for a day


Turns out, bringing onboard a new host or guest is one of the fail-proof strategies of live streaming (remember Kim Kardashian) partly because it breaks the monotony of your live stream content, and mostly, it brings in fresh perspectives. Simply put, Influencers could add to your viewership counts.


#5. Rope in a Partner


Livestreaming, if anything, has a lot of technical aspects to it, not to mention the challenges associated with engaging a “live” audience. Roping in someone to monitor your feeds or operate your equipment or having a co-host who could better interact with the viewers would take the pressure off your shoulders.


#6. Test Livestreaming in Advance


By testing your live stream in advance, you can ensure that video and sound are alright before it goes live. So, to provide seamless screening, set your live stream on private mode and send an invite to yourself on a different device to check your device’s sound and video quality. Additionally, you can check the staging of yourself, your products, and the props to get a better idea about the look and feel of your channel and whether it’s as per the audience’s taste or not. Accordingly, you can make the necessary changes.


Bottom line: Livestreaming is the go-to tech solution for the retail industry, no matter the kind of store you are running, whether big or small or offline or online. And given that social media live streams are also available, businesses should think of investing in them irrespective of the pandemic situation.

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Author: Jennifer Warren


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