If there’s one thing 2020 gave us in spades it would be user generated video content. Services such as TikTok, Instagram and Snapchat have been a mecca for bored teens (and grown ups too) looking to release creative juices as they deal with the realities of lockdown, boredom and even mental health.
But while consumers have no shortage of content, what is lacking is an experience that grabs their attention by offering something more than just viewing. Livestream shopping may just be that experience, with the future of eCommerce belonging to the brands and creators who bring commerce and content together in a seamless experience that meets the consumer in an engaging and interactive environment.
Livestream Shopping, what is it?
Unlike traditional social networks where ads are served in between user generated content, livestream shopping makes the ads the content itself. As a result, an army of stay at home influencers are discovering that making content that is completely commercial in nature, and utilising their legions of fans and followers to deliver live shopping recommendation is proving rather lucrative.
Meanwhile, brands and merchants are seeing the potential of user to user marketing that completely bypasses the need for running expensive ads, which far from engaging users, is more likely to break up the user experience and are viewed as an annoyance by most.
So, it seems that Livestream Shopping offers the perfect medium for brands to directly market to users in a way that isn’t only affective but welcomed. As a result, people continue flock to platforms which can create a native environment where content is continuedly served. In China alone, this is now a $180 billion industry which shows no signs of slowing.
The Rise of Social Commerce
One platform who is currently riding the headwinds of Social Commerce is Ooooo. Started in 2020, it is building on the experience of its 2 co-founders who, with experience in running brands such as Wish and Musical.ly, and working in some of the biggest social networks, (including TikTok) are betting on the Social Commerce revolution and their platform, Ooooo.
Core to it’s success is a revenue share model, where all stakeholders benefit. Brands and merchants can sell directly to users through the app, cutting out expensive ads. The influencers who generate the content receive a cut for every sale their channel generates. Meanwhile. end users benefit from big deals on expensive brands, giving them a real reason to engage with the platform. The result is a platform that has high user engagement and CTAs that brands and merchants grave.
“The real stars of the app are real people able to sell from their bedroom at a time when the retail industry is collapsing.”Sam Jones, Ooooo co-founder
Taking it beyond just the commercial, Ooooo see’s itself as a platform with true social value that can deliver real impact to real people.
It gives it’s content creators the freedom to experiment and regularly hosts special events, such as inviting local artists on to livestreams and sharing a percentage of sales with them. This not only gives struggling musicians a way to earn during a time where their normal income has been drastically cut but it also cements its own position as a platform for good, where commercial and social interests can not only co-exist but in fact, thrive.
The company proudly states “We don’t buy ads.”, no doubt taking aim at bigger social networks which have been dogged by endless scandals around user privacy. It is also tapping into the shared frustration of many social media users who feel it is they who are in fact the product. Platform’s like Ooooo are therefore positioning themselves in a different light to traditional social media, more honest and upfront in its intentions to market to its userbase, but in a way that doesn’t ire or pretend.
It is not surprising then that Ooooo is striking a chord with its users and quickly gaining momentum, even dethroning both Amazon and Ebay from their top spots in the App Store charts. We caught up with CEO and co-founder, Sam Jones to find out more about Ooooo and what is next for the platform.
In a way OOOOO is democratizing influencer marketing, was that the idea from the very beginning?
I would put it slightly differently. We are trying to break the layer cake that exists in commerce. What I mean by this is removing multiple parties in transactions that are not needed. As an example, when you buy a toy from Hamley’s in London, it has passed through the hands of multiple layers, which means the toy was probably made two years ago and is overpriced. In addition, Hamley’s spend a lot of money on advertising which further compounds the price. The OOOOO platform will connect consumers to the source of great products through live, interactive video’s created by real people.
Can anyone join the platform? Is there a vetting process and how does it work?
Anyone can open the OOOOO app and enjoy the content created, but this is not a user generated platform like TikTok or Facebook. Instead, we seek out passionate people who create authentic, insightful, watchable content for the OOOOO community to feel entertained and sometimes inspired to purchase. But we care about entertainment first. Creators on the OOOOO platform can come from any walk of life but we do have a process before they are accepted. It is easy to apply – just apply through our website: ooooo.com/apply.
From an end user perspective, do you see OOOOO as a creator app or a shopping app? Will people go to the app primarily for shopping or do you want your creators to focus on the type of content that makes platforms like Tiktok so successful?
OOOOO is an entertainment app, but every video is also shoppable.
You beat both Amazon and eBay to the number 1 spot in the App Store, how do you plan to keep up that momentum?
Amazon is an incredible organization but shopping on there is transactional and very lonely. You are often speaking to a robot and your product is packaged by a machine. OOOOO is made by real people, not robots, we are in the entertainment business. Our growth strategy revolves around this, but we do not buy ads, we are very serious about this final point.
Let’s talk about brands for a second. OOOOO could potentially save them quite a substantial amount of marketing dollars, what would you say are the main benefits to being on OOOOO?
OOOOO is a launch pad for brands, we can put your product in the hands of real people and launch it in minutes. The benefits are therefore speed, cost savings and content that is watchable rather than boring.
How do you match brands to content creators? Or do they interact directly via the app?
Our strategy is to get as close to the source as possible which means working with wholesalers, manufacturers, and brands. In some cases, we work with brands directly where they are comfortable with this direction of commerce, some brands are very scared of it. In other cases, we work with dominant wholesalers who control stock from thousands of brands. In other cases we work with manufacturers who design and manufacture their own brands. We put the customer first when making the decision around who to work with.
Currently you are working with a select few merchants, will this space be opened up in the future for merchants of all sizes? What will the barrier to entry be? Or to put it another way, how do you plan to support smaller merchants?
The problem with commerce today in a lot of industries is that there are too many parties involved between the manufacturer and consumer, for example the toy and wine industries have too many stakeholders. Our macro strategy is to break the layer cake and give consumers a pipe to the source of the products via video. Therefore, we will only have a select number of partners in each category. We see toys TV as a global channel for toys rather than a London toy shop that works with wholesalers, distributors and licence holders, such a model requires less stakeholders.
How can OOOOO take on the likes of Amazon (who own the supply chain) to provide a better user experience?
Amazon is an incredible organization with exceptional customer experience but it is a place to go to transact, not a place to go to be entertained and connect with others. We are in the entertainment commerce business, Amazon are not.
2020 was a year that had huge ramifications for the jobs market and more than ever people are leaving traditional employment behind. Is OOOOO’s intention to position itself at the forefront of this shift and how will you continue harnessing this energy?
The retail industry will never recover from the pandemic, there will always be room for certain players such as fresh groceries, coffee shops etc. but the collapse of retail as we know it is inevitable. We are participating in the live streaming economy, where commerce becomes entertainment. OOOOO provides platform for individuals to sell from their home, this includes an app, products and also training if you need it.
The retail companies that are slow to accept this shift, will be left behind.
What are some of the success stories to come out of OOOOO that inspire/motivate you to keep growing the platform?
We recently hosted a live show from Paris where we allowed the worlds number 1 seller of pre-loved vintage designer handbags (including LV, Prada, Gucci, Chanel, Hermes) to participate in a live stream on the OOOOO channel called Handbags.tv. In the show we spent 90 mins looking at some of the most iconic handbags in the last 20 years, this was a successful show for us because it was highly entertaining for the thousands of handbag lovers that joined, but we also enabled several people to purchase the bag of their dreams for a greatly reduced price. I was excited about this because everyone enjoyed the show, even if they couldn’t purchase the bags, but we also helped the seller receive new business. This is entertainment commerce.
What’s next for the app and the business?
Grow the community of users, and launch the app in other major markets. Watch this space.
Ooooo is currently available in the UK on both Android and iOS with plans to launch in the USA and other markets in 2021.