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Aldo Pilots Livestream Shopping as the Asian Trend Expands into Canada: Expert Commentary

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Montreal-based footwear brand Aldo is piloting livestream shopping as the company innovates amid a rapidly changing retail world. This spring the brand tested the concept with considerable success and it is now strategizing a larger rollout in various markets.

For the livestream shopping pilot, Aldo partnered with celebrity stylist Mimi Cuttrell and Los Angeles-based entertainer Nate Wyatt to host the event. The duo shared their style-tips on how to wear various styles of Aldo shoes and accessories, and viewers were able to shop the spring 2021 collection instantly in stream during the show.

The spring 2021 livestream shopping pilot was said to be a success. The Aldo website saw about 17,000 page views in the first five days after the event with an average viewing time of 12 minutes and six seconds. A 308% engagement rate including likes, hearts and comments were registered. Aldo will apply key learnings from its pilot as it looks to further test the waters this year with more online live shopping events.

Aldo says that there are ways to extend the shelf life of the experience and have it live on via the website and social channels even after the livestream has ended. Views and conversations continue to be present even two weeks after the actual event. Third party platform Bambuser, which was utilized for the Aldo livestream shopping event, noted that on average 75%-80% of sales and views happen post-live in the few weeks following a livestream event.

Amanda Amar

For future livestream shopping events, Aldo is looking to experiment with different formats and collection launches, as well as elements such as advanced viewing of collections for participants. The idea of livestream shopping is new to the North American market which means there’s room for some experimentation, according to Amanda Amar, Director of Global Social Media and PR . Ultimately the goal of Aldo’s livestream shopping initiative is to create engaging shopping moments while embracing new digital innovation.

Livestream shopping is hugely popular in Asia and now expanding into North America. Some are saying that it’s the ‘next big thing’ and that consumers will begin demanding as the experience grows in popularity. Overseas, livestream shopping takes place online through websites, social media and apps.

Aldo is embracing innovation to gain market share at a challenging time for the retail industry, as well as for the retailer. The pandemic has impacted consumer spending on fashion significantly in Canada, and Aldo itself filed for creditor protection last year after accumulating significant debt. The company has since been closing underperforming stores in Canada and the United States and is now looking to the future which includes a hybrid of physical and digital retail channels.

Retail Insider is putting together a panel of experts to comment on trends that we are seeing in Canadian retailing. Below are comments from some noted experts.

Retail Panelist Discussion

George Minakakis

George Minakakis

Welcome to the future of retailing, one continuous giant experiment. Is livestreaming another disruptive component in retail? We have to keep in mind that China moved a lot faster on e-commerce and livestreaming because they did two things. First, they skipped a lot of technological learning curves and jumped right into mobile phones, bypassing the infrastructure pain and limitations of landlines. According to iresearch.cn in 2019 mobile transactions were approximately 85% Chinese consumer purchases.

Chinese consumers are protective of their free time from work, looking for greater convenience, and are very health conscious. I am not surprised at livestreaming being popular, couple that with the pandemic suddenly 30% of the population is watching. But there is an art to this. A colourful host/influencer, product that is attractive and in short supply on the product that creates a sense of urgency, as a must have in your wardrobe or in your home. There is a lot of production planning, creativity, execution, and the ability to respond to live requests. It must be engaging and entertaining or your platform can lose interest fast. Retailing in China continues its evolution as it did when I led and built a 200-store chain there.

George Minakakis is the CEO Inception Retail Group Inc. and author of The New Bricks & Mortar – Future Proofing Retail. He’s also a co-host on The Business of Retail podcast.

Gary Newbury

Gary Newbury

Retailers continue to be at the digital/physical crossroads as they look for more engaging ways to attract consumers to their proposition beyond their store and website, especially during the lockdowns. Social channels, including Instagram, Twitter and Facebook continue to be a strong source to attract consumers and their orders during this period, however, “more live” aspects, as facilitated via apps like TikTok have really caught consumers’ interest. Livestreaming is a natural progression of this, especially with its high adoption in China, where we tend to look for what’s coming down the digital wire to North America.

Linking livestream and the appropriate influencers looks like a winning formula for retailers, especially in apparel, fashion and luxury who have been placed in and out of lockdown restrictions many times over the last fifteen months. The success of this event should be a signal to other market participants within these categories and beyond, continuous innovation is required to keep top of mind for consumers. The key now, beyond the promise of value, is to make sure consumer orders are fulfilled with the delivery options and convenience they expect.

Gary Newbury is a GTA based Senior Exec On Call at RetailAID, focused on helping consumer driven supply chains to be agile, be innovative and be digital through supply chain transformation. Gary is a Co-Host on The Business of Retail podcast.

David Ian Gray

“It has great potential and makes a lot of sense for the right brands and shopper situations. However, there are cautions. The first adopters in their categories will create lots of buzz. I have no doubt it will generate sales if executed decently. However, once every brand is doing it, it will quickly overwhelm shoppers and not be special anymore. Just like apps. Consumers only use about 5-6 third-party apps on their phones. Yet how many businesses say, ‘we need to create an app’? At that point, it will be the ones who are strategic and purposeful with why they are doing it and how it bridges customer and business needs. Just bolting it on as a sales tactic won’t meet exec expectations long run without purpose and support.”

David Ian Gray is the Founder/Principal of DIG360 and is a Co-Host on The Business of Retail podcast.

Farla Efros

I believe strongly in the value and benefits of livestreaming in reaching consumers. About 80% of people are more likely to watch a video versus reading a blog. The massive increase in the amount of video content consumed, which has led to video and live streaming features from Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snap Chat etc.

The key benefits of livestreaming as a key tool for retailers as described below:

  • Accessibility- this allows consumers to get to know and trust a brand before spending money
  • Larger Audience – this allows brands to engage with people that do not know them. Livestreaming can attract people you did not know and provide them with a “behind the scenes” experience so they can build a stronger connection with your brand
  • Rise of Smartphones and Unlimited Data — as virtually everyone has a smartphone, allowing people to watch livestreams any time and any place
  • Improved ROI—livestreaming is interactive which both draws more viewers and is viewed as much as three times longer than a standard video
  • Build Relationships with your consumers, giving your brand a personality, a face and voice which can translate into increased credibility and trust.
  • Working with Influencers more effectively to become your brand ambassador and host the livestream to keep the audience tuned in and draw more eyes & clicks to your brand.

Farla Efros is President of HRC Retail Advisory, a leading retail consulting firm focused on enhancing retail profitability.

Bruce Winder

“I have read a great deal about live streaming events in Asia and the US and think it is a great example of how a Canadian retailer can innovate. Bravo!

We have all witnessed the growth of e-commerce during the pandemic and it is safe to assume a great deal of it will continue on after this nightmare ends. The livestreaming medium also offers the potential for tremendous excitement and capitalizes on impulse sales through mobile technology.  The event helps customers engage with the brand and telegraphs that something is different about Aldo as they look to reinvent themselves.

I think we are going to see an explosion of sales in fashion as customers have, for the most part, been confined to their dwellings for the last year plus – wearing track pants, sweatshirts and slippers. It sounds like a cliché but I anticipate a roaring twenties-esque social scene for at least a year after we open up our economy. People will be buying fashion like never before and making up for lost time to live their best lives.”

Bruce Winder is a Retail Analyst – Author of RETAIL Before, During & After COVID-19 (Available on Amazon), Consultant, Speaker, Instructor, Neurodiverse, Artist

Retail Insider is welcoming experts to comment on future trend stories as we develop this concept. To contact Retail Insider’s Editor-in-Chief Craig Patterson, email: craig@retail-insider.com

Article Author

Craig Patterson
Craig Patterson
Now located in Toronto, Craig is a retail analyst and consultant at the Retail Council of Canada. He's also the Director of Applied Research at the University of Alberta School of Retailing in Edmonton. He has studied the Canadian retail landscape for the past 25 years and he holds Bachelor of Commerce and Bachelor of Laws Degrees. He is also President & CEO of Vancouver-based Retail Insider Media Ltd.

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