The New York-based livestream shopping platform is expanding its reach to the U.S. market, starting with a holiday livestream campaign, “She’s Live on ShopShops,” featuring an array of female-founded brands.
ShopShops founder and chief executive officer Liyia Wu will host an Instagram Live session on Wednesday through the ShopShops account, along with designer Rebecca Minkoff, to unveil the market’s U.S. launch. But the first livestream event will take place Saturday with Minkoff showing off some of her latest goods.
“As a brand we’ve always embraced technology as a way to push fashion forward,” Minkoff told WWD, regarding her decision to partner with Wu and ShopShops. “And we’ve been incredibly lucky to have had a ton of Chinese streamers to be coming into our [online] stores — since for the majority of the pandemic [our physical stores] have been shut — and streaming overseas to China.
“I had listened to Liyia on a podcast and I was just like, ‘I need to talk to this woman,’” Minkoff continued. “Her streamers have saved our business within our retail stores. And I just wanted to get to know her. I think for us [the partnership] was a no-brainer. We know the future of shopping is going to be video. But how do you make it interactive? Because there are a lot of platforms out there that are great. But, [Liyia] makes it turnkey. And to be able to be the ShopShops launch partner for the U.S. was kind of an easy ask.”
Up until now, ShopShops has only connected Chinese consumers with U.S.-based retailers. Now the platform will connect U.S., Asian and European retailers — both brick-and-mortar and digital businesses — with U.S.-based consumers. Minkoff and Wu worked together to curate the list of female-founded brands for the campaign, which runs each weekend after the launch, through Dec. 20.
Female founders from Wander Beauty, Cynthia Rowley, lingerie brand Morgan Lane, footwear company Llani, accessories brand Joomi Lim and Shhhowercap, among others, will host livestream events over the course of the campaign.
But shoppers can log onto shopshopslive.com, or down the ShopShops app to search for new products at any time. For the U.S. launch, ShopShops will focus exclusively on female-founded companies and brands in the fashion, accessories, lifestyle and home space. But the platform will later open up to all retailers Stateside.
Wu, who divides her time between Vancouver, B.C., and Beijing, said she wanted to kick off the U.S. launch with female-led brands because of her own experiences in the industry.
“As a female founder I’ve found it very hard to survive in new-start-up mode, just trying to get help,” Wu said. “And in the past few years it’s always been talented females that have sort of been helping me grow and helping me to build ShopShops. So with the COVID-19 situation, I was looking into ways of how we could bring ShopShops live into the U.S. market with meaning.
“And also, I think we just had a lot to talk about besides selling products,” Wu continued. “Such as our lives, which involves kids, which involves husbands, or involves dogs. So it was definitely more fun to create a live show, where you’re selling not just a product, but a personality [as well] and the story that builds that brand.”
ShopShops first launched in 2015 in China as an online shopping directory of U.S. retailers trying to reach Chinese travelers. Today the platform has expanded to more than 1,000 retailers servicing the Chinese market with livestream shopping events. The pandemic, Wu said, has only accelerated the need for similar services in the U.S.
“I definitely think that post COVID-19, retail will regain its strength. We’ll see people coming back to the stores,” she said. “However, I think that live shopping, video-content shopping is the future in the long run. It’s definitely not a fad. And COVID-19 really just drove the speed of adoption of this behavior.”
Wu pointed out that platforms like TikTok, which launched in China more than four years ago, have blown up in the U.S. amid the pandemic.
“It is really training that user behavior to watch video content [for shopping],” Wu said. “I definitely think there’s going to be big growth in the U.S., or the entire English-speaking market, where people are already looking for ways to shop differently, rather than just traditional e-commerce. The search of a keyword [to do your shopping] will no longer be satisfying. The content on these video-based platforms will be the main drivers — either live, post-live or by creating a short video — as the new form of converting.”