Periscope, Meerkat, and eCommerce

As if 700 channels on cable wasn’t enough. Now, thanks to live streaming video anyone with an iOS or Android device is holding a live broadcast studio in the palm of their hands.

Meerkat and Periscope are live streaming video apps that provide users with the ability to stream live video. And stream it they do. This technology enabled me to see amazing live footage of storms and flooding in Texas, live concerts halfway across the globe, and other really cool stuff. Of course, I also encountered the usual abundance of attention-seekers: live broadcasts of people driving to a party (don’t Periscope and drive, kids) and folks wanting others to watch them eat breakfast. As I shook my head at that last one, I realized was also watching this inane activity… doh!

Beyond the noise of the norm, this technology has tremendous potential for commerce. Both online retailers and their customers can leverage this technology to have a better shared experience, one that allows an online retailer to approximate a brick-and-mortar experience to a certain degree. Here are a few ideas:

Flash Sales Broadcast: Any online retailer that conducts flash sales could benefit from this technology by live broadcasting during a sale, specifically for fast-moving products. Think QVC on your mobile phone.

For example, I recently watched a Periscope broadcast of a TV Producer looking for new ideas from the audience. Viewers actually entered their phone numbers in the comments section, and the producer would call them live on speakerphone so viewers could hear the conversation live. When implemented in an eCommerce scenario, a setup like this would give online retailers the ability to place the customer at the center of the event. They’re already on your site — and now they’re live on the air with you!

Product Introduction / Idea Gathering: In a previous post about “The Two Faces of Personalization, I pointed out that companies striving to give consumers better product detail without collecting data are addressing the customer’s “private” face. By leveraging live streaming technology to broadcast product information coupled with real-life examples of how others are using the product, retailers can help build product awareness, consumer confidence, and sales.

Customer Service: I recently noticed a broadcast entitled, “Help me get my Cisco router set up”. Simple enough. Someone bought a new router and was having trouble, so they took the air to solicit help from anyone, anywhere. Online retailers could take this approach one step further by offering online assistance to customers in certain situations. Of course, this has the potential to open the floodgates for those who refuse to RTFM, but if done judiciously, a single broadcast would not only help the customer in need, but also any others who could be watching as well.

What a cool time to be in eCommerce. So many new technologies are coming available that bring customer and retailer closer together. How will you use them to get closer to your customer?


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