How I'd Launch Zoop - A platform for live-streamed commerce

Feb 03, 2021 4:35 am

There's a $150 billion industry in China that's non-existent in the US, & today's product idea is about changing that. Curious yet? It's live commerce.

Each week I help founders & marketers spark their creativity by sharing a new product idea & how I'd launch it.


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Now, onto this week's product idea: Zoop - a platform for live-streamed commerce.

Value proposition:

  • For the millions of individuals who had to move their businesses online in 2020, they had a plethora of tools to help with monetization (Shopify, Patreon, Cameo, etc.) & distribution (Twitch, Substack, Twitter), but how about a tool to do both at once? How about a tool that brings monetization & commerce alongside them connecting with their audience, live over video. That's Zoop.

  • Zak Kukoff, VC at General Catalyst, has proposed a similar idea, a Shopify for Zoom, that would allow yoga teachers, cooking instructors, & more, to directly monetize video experiences. I think there's a bigger opportunity though, not to monetize video, but to use video to monetize regular products. Imagine an influencer being paid to demo a product, streaming live to thousands of fans, who are able to buy the product in an immersive digital shopping experience without leaving the show. Think a modern Home Shopping Network. This "live commerce" is already popular in China, but hasn't caught on in the US.

How I'd launch:

  • Full-fledged Zoop wouldn't be an easy product to build, since it would have to handle video, chat, animations, and payments, & all at scale with thousands of participants. However, you could patch together a simple no-code MVP leveraging 3rd-party products like Zoom & Streamlabs.

  • First, I'd find a business selling a photogenic product where demos can have a big impact on willingness to purchase (make-up, energy drinks, etc.) I'd pitch them about the idea of a live-streamed demo & arrange a deal where they pay you x% of purchases, no upfront fee. Then, turn around & find an influencer in that niche (streamer, athlete, model, etc.) to do the live promotion. The larger the influencer the better, as you'll want their audience, but small enough to agree to a new & unknown live-stream idea. Bonus points if you search the product on Instagram & find someone who already uses it, & an even more bonus points if you're able to get multiple different products all relevant to their audience. Arrange to pay them a fixed amount up front out of your own pocket, & then (x-1)% of any product sales.

  • In the week leading up to the livestream, you need to create hype around the live stream. If your influencer isn't a streamer, it'll be hard to get their audience to attend a live stream, but possible (good reason to work with a streamer!). If you're paying the influencer x% of sales (in addition to the upfront fee) & they're excited about the idea of live commerce, they'll be more than wiling to promote it to their audience beforehand, but the success of your first event will depend in large part, on your influencer (again, something to consider when choosing them).

  • I'd use Streamlabs to stream to Twitch & YouTube & then set up check-out pages for each product, either with Stripe or Shopify. You could even negotiate discount codes for attendees to use, but the key part is attributing revenue back to the event. Even though monetization won't be as closely integrated with the live experience as ideal, it's a start to prove the concept.

How I'd scale:

  • Live commerce really is a win-win for both influencers & businesses & you'll have lots of social proof after a first successful event. Next, you'll want to experiment with more products per livestream, multiple influencers, & which products are best suited for live commerce, to figure out how to make the experience both as entertaining & revenue-driving as possible.

  • I've mentioned Help A Reporter Out before, but they're the best tool I know of to find journalists looking for sources for stories. Bringing live commerce to the US is a sufficiently interesting & new topic that might even work via cold-pitching on Twitter to journalists in retail, consumer products, or tech. If you're working on a cool idea, PR is the fastest way to go from 0 to 100.

Why it would work:

  • The biggest reason Zoop will work is that it works in China. Viya Huang, a top live commerce influencer, sold more than $45 million of product on a single day. In one night, she attracted more viewers than the Game of Thrones finale. Live commerce grew 200%+ in 2019, & an estimated 150%+ in 2020, to $150 billion. 50,000 daily broadcasts, with 260 million daily views. That's massive. It's been proven, & at scale. It's just a matter of replicating that success in the US.

Why it might not work:

  • The biggest reason Zoop won't work is also that it works in China. If it's so successful in China, why hasn't it worked in the US? In 2015, Kohl's streamed a Lauren Conrad Runway show on Periscope, but it didn't catch on. Are there cultural differences at play? Is it too ephemeral for the US? (I find that hard to believe)

  • Additionally, with such a large market up for grabs, there are likely dozens of companies already trying to win in this space. Twitch is currently the company with most integrated video-monetization model, & though they'd have to shift significantly to do live commerce, it's not out of the realm of possibility for them to enter the space.

Question: What opportunities might be staring you in the face that you're scared to say "Yes" to?



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