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Canadian Retailer ‘Showcase’ Launches Live Shopping Shows Hosted by TV Personality: Interview

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Canadian retailer Showcase, known to be ‘Home of the Hottest Trends’ and the world’s largest retailer of its kind, has launched live shopping shows on its social media platforms hosted by well-known TV personality Danny Boome.

Samir Kulkarni, Showcase’s CEO, said that because Showcase has always been about entertainment and discovery of new and trending products, and the instant gratification of trying something you buy, obviously live stream shopping and everything it presents is very interesting to the retailer.

Samir Kulkarni

“It fits very well into our business model of entertaining and discovery of new products. So we launched our live shopping strategy at the start of May. What we do is broadcast a live show every 48 hours on social platforms and to our two million insiders and our website.

“These live broadcasts are very relevant, newsworthy trend stories about new product launches, about community events, about seasonally-relevant product categories and they’re combined with time sensitive promotions, flash discounts and so on that you can partake in store as well as online. The concept is that we’re bringing our trend store to life on your phone or on your computer – wherever you may be so that you can discover the latest, newest, hottest, greatest thing. You can see a demonstration, understand more about how it works. You can engage with our live chat team to ask questions and interact and then you have the instant gratification of purchasing that product either online, running into a store or even getting same day delivery.”

Kulkarni said the initiative is about digitizing the store concept and modernizing it for a digital world.

Showcase at Avalon Mall – January 2020 (Photo Crombie REIT)

Showcase, which was founded in 1994 in Edmonton, currently has 117 stores in North America and is expanding in the US. The retailer is in every province except for Quebec. Ten of the company’s stores are in the northeastern part of the US.

“We’re a small format, specialty retailer in malls and we sell emerging trends in health, beauty, home and toys in a fun and interactive ‘try it before you buy it’ environment,” said Kulkarni.

“We think that there’s a potential for 500 to 1,000 Showcase stores in North America. If you look at the population, if we have about 100 in Canada and the US is 10 times that then the market potential is definitely in the hundreds of stores.

“We’re exclusively in malls. Only in A and B centres. For example we’re opening (CF) Chinook Centre (in Calgary) in about a month.”

The shows are about 10 minutes long every 48 hours.

Image: Showcase

“The host is Danny Boome. He is a television personality. He’s been on the Food Network with his own show as well as on Dr. Oz and Steven and Chris. So he is very comfortable on air and he’s a very fun and interactive guy as well so the character and personality is great for our brand,” said Kulkarni.

“So really the theme of these shows is following Danny on his adventures through Showcase where Danny gets to unbox and open and try the latest, hottest trends. He gets to visit stores and interact with staff, interact with displays and demos in stores. And he gets to share the savings and the promotions and so on that are on at the time. He really becomes the face of Showcase to help entertain and help educate and give people that human interaction that has been missing for so many of us in the last year.”

As part of Showcase’s DNA, it’s always been driven by mass media, he added. In the old days it would have been driven by television infomercials. In the last 10 years it’s been driven more by social media. It prides itself on having the latest and hottest trends on social media.

“We have them first and fast and often exclusively,” he said. “The live shopping is the natural extension of that strategy. We are now taking the trending products, we are taking the two million insiders who are loyal customers who shop with us and want to discover, want to see what’s new and what’s hot and learn more about these products and we are providing that to them on demand on their phone, on their computer, and wherever they’d like to watch it. It’s newsworthy. It’s relevant. It’s topical and so it’s entertaining.

“We still encourage them to shop whether it’s online or in store and so the commerce side of it works as well.’

Kulkarni said the trends around live shopping have been rising upwards over the last few years. Traditionally, there were the legacy television shopping players but they catered to the television viewing audience which is a specific segment and probably an aging segment today.

Meanwhile in China new live stream shopping players have emerged and have built giant businesses by creating a mobile first and a social first, influencer led live shopping strategy which combines elements such as entertainment, discovery, education, commerce.

“The why for us is to be inspired by what the major Asian players have done in their markets and to Canadianize that experience so that it is for products that are relevant to Canadians and to the markets we serve in a very accessible way on your favourite social media platforms to be able to interact and engage with us,” said Kulkarni.

Showcase is broadcasting on Facebook Live – their main platform. That’s also because it is one of the biggest advertisers in Canada on Facebook. It also is heavily involved with TikTok, the emerging social platform.

Kulkarni said #showcasemademebuyit has recently hit 18 million views and that hashtag was only launched in conjunction with live shopping only a couple of months ago.

“To get 18 million views on that hashtag shows the consumer is reacting and they’re appreciating the content that they’re seeing,” he said. “That’s really exciting for us.”

Kulkarni said the retailer is experimenting with different formats and different lengths of shows for the live shopping initiative.

“We are marketing technology people so we are crunching a lot of data and analyzing view time, clicks, conversion and other metrics, in store visits as well, which is key to the strategy. On that basis we will then expand the amount of content dramatically,” he explained.

Article Author

Mario Toneguzzi
Mario Toneguzzi, based in Calgary, has more than 40 years experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist, and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald covering sports, crime, politics, health, faith, city and breaking news, and business. He now works on his own as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training.

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