Customer Stories

Grupo Éxito implements live shopping and reaps the rewards

Lalo Aguilar
Lalo Aguilar December 6, 2021
Grupo Éxito implements live shopping and reaps the rewards

Live shopping is a relatively new customer experience that aims to help customers feel closer to their favorite brands. In a nutshell, it mixes the streaming of a live event with online shopping, but you can dive deeper into the specifics in one of our blogposts. Pioneered by Alibaba’s Taobao back in 2016, this tool has had a fast adoption amongst retailers and its usefulness has been tested all over the world. 

For instance, Grupo Éxito (i.e. Spanish for “Success”), one of the most important business units of Grupo Casino, is using live shopping to bring attention to its fashion catalog, boost sales and grow engagement in a very competitive sector. 

Before living up to its name and achieving success, however, it had to debunk some strong misconceptions. 

The art of replicating

For Éxito, Colombia’s biggest retail company, live shopping arose from a continuous push for innovation. After all, Éxito’s phenomenal ecommerce growth cannot rely solely on the pandemic: in 2020, ecommerce in Colombia grew 53%, but in 2021 it’s projected to grow only 16%. So Éxito wanted to get ahead of the competition and find new drivers for growth. And what better way to differentiate yourself than through live shopping?

Despite the tendency in ecommerce to look to the United States for guidance, Éxito was able to identify that some Asian markets, specifically China, were being bolder and more successful when it came to using new technology. 

More particularly, the company found out about Alibaba’s and Taobao’s live shopping offering, which had already proven profitable, and decided to shape its own solution after it.

Less is more

The second misconception Éxito had to break down was about the requirements needed for a successful live shopping experience. Éxito thought that less is more in terms of production, going against the norm we’re used to seeing nowadays. 

“We saw that it wasn’t the typical model where you have a five-star influencer, but just regular people, sometimes in a warehouse, and they were able to nicely present the products. This allowed us to break down barriers and realize that live shopping is something that even the clothing manufacturer itself can do, and we had to try it.” 

Andrés Acosta, Chief of Entrepreneurship Initiatives at Grupo Éxito

Perhaps unexpectedly, some people inside the company showed concerns about the production value of the videos, but Éxito was sure that small productions could work in Colombia as well as they did in China, so it stood its ground. 

“No makeup and no producers, and yet they were welcomed by the audience. We come from a perfectionist culture pushed by Instagram and Facebook. Seeing that simple streaming works gave us a push to knock on brands’ doors and ask them to make another one and another one.” 

Andrés Acosta, Chief of Entrepreneurship Initiatives at Grupo Éxito

In 2020, the company’s first live shopping sessions were streamed from its central offices in Envigado, Colombia. The equipment consisted of a cell phone, a light ring and a pair of bluetooth earbuds. To date, the company has held live shopping events in people’s dining rooms and closets, even hosting a 9-year old girl talk about toys for 45 minutes!

This has led to great numbers, with audiences that have surpassed 5,000 people. Moreover, sessions during Live Shopping events have a duration that’s 680% longer than the regional average for an ecommerce session. Each event has also brought a daily sales increase of about 6%.

The brands responded too: Grupo Éxito now allocates every live shopping space available for their partners one month in advance, providing its website as the channel while offering each company the freedom to set up their own production. 

The partners have included LG, Oster, Hisense, Remington, Whirlpool and iRobot. But one of the big hurdles of being a trendsetter in LATAM is that you have to educate your comercial partners on the needs to set up a live shopping stream, as well as the opportunities that the tool could bring in terms of customer engagement.

“We have some partners that think it’s cool that we have a human aspect to it, but they still want to know if they can use a set and professional cameras. Last month we had a (food) company that painted the entire set green and they brought a chef and two cameras. This doesn’t mean that more production brings more sales, it’s all about audience engagement and interaction.”

Andrés Acosta, Chief of Entrepreneurship Initiatives at Grupo Éxito

A blueprint for success  

Looking back, the most evident challenge in the entire process was on the technical side. Éxito wanted to host the stream on a website that was already stable and constantly had a lot of visits, meaning that any changes represented a big risk. 

From this perspective, VTEX was a lifeline for Grupo Éxito’s live shopping implementation. The ready-made solution that VTEX offers, powered by Amazon Web Services (AWS), allowed Éxito to quickly set up the technology on top of its own website, drastically reducing what its own engineers needed to develop.  

With that technology, one of the most important hypotheses that Éxito managed to validate was the fact that hosting the streams on its own website leads to higher sales, since the customer can order without leaving the page, which is not the case when you are hosted on a social media platform. 

“We’re able to change our site from a transactional one to an entertainment one. And there we can close the sale. On social networks, I can get easily distracted with other posts, but on the website, I have a buyer’s mindset. When I bump into a live that can show me products that I didn’t know before, I can add them directly to my cart.”

Andrés Acosta, Chief of Entrepreneurship Initiatives at Grupo Éxito

Indeed, a shift may be coming. Acosta thinks the future lies in 24/7 live shopping hosted on a company’s own website, which would help companies communicate directly with their customers. To make this future a reality, companies need to “unlearn” what they think they know about live streaming, stop being afraid to experiment and realize that this is an effective new way of selling. 

Éxito has already proven that and, honoring its name, it has set up a blueprint for other retailers to follow towards great success.

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