Livestreams are beginning to change the direct sales industry by combining the enthusiasm of selling face-to-face with the convenience of connecting virtually. This week on the podcast, Gordon Steele, director of sales with Bloo Kanoo, joined us to share all he knows about selling and shopping via video. Listen in for his tips on how to get started with shoppable videos, the stats behind the experience, and how to use streaming in tandem with the rest of your sales strategies to meet your customers where they want to shop!
Time based notes:
- 1:47 Gordon Steele and Bloo Kanoo
- 6:57 The shoppable video hype
- 11:36 The stats behind livestream shopping
- 14:46 How to practice live selling
- 18:43 Contact Gordon for demos and details
- 20:54 Gordon’s favorite office supply
Selling and Shopping via Video with Gordon Steele
Livestreams are changing the direct sales industry by combining the enthusiasm of selling face-to-face with the convenience of connecting virtually. Recently on the Modern Direct Seller Podcast, Gordon Steele, director of sales with Bloo Kanoo, joined us to share all he knows about how to get started with shoppable videos, the stats behind the experience, and how to use streaming in tandem with the rest of your sales strategies to meet your customers where they want to shop. Read on to learn more!
So, Gordon, why don’t we kick things off by sharing a little bit about your involvement in and around the direct sales industry? I know you’ve seen things from so many different angles.
I’ve seen it from many angles over the last 12 years. I’ve been a customer. I’ve been involved as a distributor a few times, briefly. I’ve been a field-facing support rep at a call center. And, for about five and a half years, I worked closely with all sizes and shapes of direct selling companies, their C-suite, tech teams, and field-facing professionals as I supported their payments needs. I’ve seen the challenges they face. I’ve seen some awesome innovative approaches and solutions along the way. And so, I feel like I’ve gotten the lay of the land, definitely.
So then, tell us a little bit about your current role and what you do and who you serve.
I’m currently director of sales at Bloo Kanoo, and we provide shoppable video conferencing and livestream shopping solutions to direct selling organizations for their field and corporate teams to use. So, we enable a presenter to go live right on their replicated or corporate website. There’s a video conferencing experience called BK Meets, and that’s kind of a Zoom experience, where the presenter and the attendees can see and hear one another and interact with the chat and emojis, as well. And then, we have a BK Live, which has the host video and audio only with chat and emoji engagement from participants. And, in both of those, the presenter is able to share products as they educate about them. And, we also have a BK Stream shoppable video solution, as well. Our mission is to humanize the internet. And, I’d like to take it another step further: bringing the power of direct sales to the convenience and the accessibility of your virtual store, your e-commerce platforms.
One thing that comes to mind right away for me is, so often, when I’m talking to direct sellers about cultivating leads and building relationships and connecting with people, there’s a hesitation around sending people directly to your replicated site, because oftentimes, people need a little bit more information, or they need to hear it in your own voice, or they need a little bit of an explainer to go along with it. So, this livestream could be a great way to bridge that gap and still bring people over to the corporate site, the replicated site, and also get a feel of the direct seller and their personality and their own words what makes the products that they’re representing so awesome.
Oh, absolutely. And, you know, we encourage that direct selling companies take that omni-channel approach, where they’re interacting on Instagram and on Facebook. But, we also suggest that, as soon as you’re in a selling situation, you bring them on over. Create less friction, and have your shopping cart right there so that they can just add products as you share them and check out.
Okay, so I want to talk a little bit more about video, because we know that there’s been such a rise in video consumption with short-form and long-form video. We know that there’s such an importance to leveraging video inside your business. But, I think what you guys are doing is really taking things to another level, which maybe we’re not talking about as much in terms of the industry as a whole. So, tell me a little bit more about this livestream shopping or shoppable video. What does that actually mean? What’s the buzz around it?
So, livestream shopping and shoppable videos are still cutting edge technology experiences. Maybe not bleeding edge at this point, but they’re still cutting edge. And, there has been some incredible adoption and results in China and other Asian markets, and its popularity is growing in Europe and the U.S. And, as we’ve seen, when there is early adoption of a technology, at some point, it’s going to explode. And, you’re going to either be using it and participating in that market share, or you’ll be left out, and, in some cases that can lead to the end of an era for a business.
Some people really love to shop from video. And, I think back to my days in direct sales, and occasionally I would do a big inventory sale. I’d invite people over to my house, and they could shop whatever they wanted in person, then whatever I had left over I would add into, essentially, a little shopping album in a Facebook group. There, the first person to comment would get that item. And then, as kind of a last resort, honestly, I would do a little bit of a live video, where I would just hold up the item and say the price, and it baffled me how many people would show up for the livestream. I always felt like there was a little bit of a thrill to it, especially if you have a product that has any sense of scarcity to it, where it might sell out, or it’s the last one, or it’s discontinuing. It’s not always the way that I would prefer to shop, but there’s a lot of people out there that love shopping that way, right?
Yeah. And, going back to meeting your customers where they are and giving them the experience that they like with an omni-approach: Interact on Facebook in the comments, like you were saying. Have that still there. But then, also provide the exciting “I’m getting this exclusive access to this rare item” and bring them into a livestream shopping experience.
We all know that, as time passes, everybody has less time—or at least it feels that way. The busy independent business owner is still somehow meeting face-to-face to share their amazing products in the direct selling opportunity. Keep doing that. That’s what this industry is. But then, live commerce allows you to multiply those engagements. There’s less time and money investment, less cleaning the house and reserving the restaurant to meet your customers, so it’s easier for the distributor and their customer to participate in a livestream.
And, on the customer-facing side, the customer is literally just clicking from within this livestreaming experience, right? This is literally bringing the shopping experience = to their feet.
Oh, definitely. They’re on there, you’re sharing the product as you’re talking about it, and they can click and add it to their cart so easily after they’ve learned about it. But, both reading about the product as it’s shared and listening to you, you’re their personal shopper. You’re their expert.
Okay, so tell us about the data. You have some numbers behind this and how this is really such a game changer for the industry, right?
So, there are many articles that go into great detail about how livestream shopping will be 20% of all e-commerce sales by 2026, or that a fourth of participants on livestreams tend to make a purchase. And, a value for an independent business owner is it increases customer engagement, brand awareness, and brand and rep loyalty. So, they’re going to be return customers, because they know you and they trust you—just as you experience in the industry as a whole.
And then, from the corporate side, speaking to Bloo Kanoo’s specific capabilities, they’re able to utilize the data made available from livestreams to help their field be more effective sellers. And, they can enhance their marketing efforts and incentivize livestream activity creatively. So, instead of not knowing what the field is up to on Zoom or Facebook Live, they can know who was invited to an event, what products were shared, what products were added to carts, what products were ultimately purchased, and it’s all tied to that effort, that event that they have put together.
Okay, so that’s just opened my eyes to a whole other side of this with the analytics and the marketing side and the visibility. You know, I think historically, we’ve seen a lot of different shifts in virtual parties and events that used to just be “You post a graphic, and then people click and buy.” And then, you know, we elevated, and there’s now live video that’s part of that. But, a lot of those activities are happening within a social media platform. And so, that data and the success rate and the conversion rate and all of that is really kind of invisible. So, people can say they set up a party in their back office, but they’re not seeing necessarily who attended or what the results were from that given event. So, what a powerful tool when it comes to the e-commerce landscape and how companies are really supporting direct sellers, upping the marketing game and supporting the efforts of those in the field. That’s huge. Just that visibility piece. I love that you pointed that out.
And, on that note, the presenter, as they’re sharing products, can see the carts being built by all the participants in that moment. So, they get immediate feedback. And, they can see, “Okay, this skincare product really resonated with this participant. I’m going to share with them the night serum, because it goes hand-in-hand, and they’re really going to love it,” and that’s a perfect upsell opportunity and adding value to your customers.
Okay, so let’s talk a little bit about how individual direct seller might be able to baby-step into live selling. For Bloo Kanoo, you need more of a formal integration with your company in order for all of those analytics and that back office data to flow through the way that it needs to. But, is there any best practices that you recommend after working with thousands in the field that are actually doing this every day, even if your company isn’t integrated into a shoppable livestreaming experience?
So, for those that don’t have access to a shoppable livestream tool through their home office, they should get comfortable sharing their products in a virtual way, whether that’s recording a video of themselves, getting over that awkward “I’m the only one here experience,” and even by using the livestreaming tools that are available through social media. Go live. Once you feel a little bit more comfortable, go live. Take that next step. And, as their comfort grows, as soon as this type of tool becomes available for their business and it’s a shoppable experience, they’re ready to go.
I love that. For anyone that have been afraid to push the “Live” button, this is your sign to go do that in practice, because, you know, I joke, but if you look back at some of my very, very early YouTube videos, when I first started in this space, in every video, I’m looking to the side. I flustered. I’m totally washed out. My lighting is terrible. But, video is one of those things that really takes practice. And, as great as your cameras and lights and setup might be, it still requires a level of comfort with the camera and being able to interact with your audience at the same time. And, that only comes with experience.
It’s like anything new, anything that we try to learn. We have to get out there and do it, and then throw away that first video. Or, save it for posterity to go back and see how much you’ve grown.
The one thing with video that I think is really powerful is that, like a podcast, it’s a somewhat intimate experience. People hear your voice. They see your face. They see your expressions. They see your house in the background. There’s something that just really comes with video that is so genuine and authentic and very much in alignment with how direct sellers build relationships and build their personal brand and connect in with their ideal customer. So, I love that this is a topic of interest, and that companies are starting to look at this and really bring it in to the resources that they’re able to offer to the field. Because, I think that it’s just a match made in heaven.
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