Have you considered selling your products live on Facebook? Creating a live shopping event on Facebook is a way for you to interact with your customers, showing them each item in real-time.
Facebook Live sales can be fun and exciting for you and your customers and truly a win-win, too. Your customers will get to watch from wherever they are. They’ll get interact with you, ask questions, and easily purchase your products. You’ll increase sales of your products, and be able to promote and sell your products without waiting for customers to enter your shop or attend a market or show.
To get started, you’ll need to decide on some products to feature, schedule your Facebook Live, tell all your customers, and spend some time showing them your products in advance to whet their appetite.
It’s important to keep in mind that Facebook Live Sales aren’t going to be perfect or scripted. Instead, these are casual events, and they’re definitely more personal than simply visiting an e-commerce shop. In fact, several of the shop owners I work with who do regular Facebook Live sales events are now seeing 40% of the retail sales coming directly from Facebook Lives sales events. The opportunity is larger than that, though, Really, these events are a wonderful opportunity to show your brand’s personality and heart. There is a big potential return on investment, and not just in terms of revenue.
Creating an event like this isn’t complicated and can be a lot of fun, however, there are some systems and best practices that can make it easier for you. Let’s take a look.
To decide when you will hold your sale, consider checking your Facebook insights to see what day and time your customers are most likely to be on the platform. This can help you pick the right time. You also may want to vary the times of your sales events, lunchtime and evening times, for example, so that everyone can participate.
When you set up your sale on Facebook, think about making it public so you can get the most views (versus streaming to a private group). Set up the sale as an “event” on Facebook so that your audience can mark that they’re interested in attending. Write attention-grabbing marketing copy emphasizing the value of the products you’ll be showing.
Next, decide what items you will sell. Depending on your product line, choose a variety of items. Limited editions, new releases, themed selection, such as “all things winter” will help to get your viewers excited. Consider further building excitement by featuring exclusive items, one-of-a-kind items, or new releases. Another idea is to host a clearance sale.
To keep things organized as you go through the sale, you’ll need to number your items. This will help you to keep track of who buys what. Create a tag with the item number and put it with each item. Set up a spreadsheet with the item number and description and create a column where you’ll write the winning bidder’s name and contact information.
Now you’ll need to decide how you will award the “winner” if there are multiple parties interested in the same item. One common solution is to choose the first person to type “SOLD #123,” for example, in the comments.
It’s a great idea to plan to have a helper during and after your live event. Your helper can keep track of who posts first to buy and can help you to enter this information into the spreadsheet and invoice your customers.
After the event ends, you’ll need to invoice your customers in a timely manner. One way to do this is to email them a link to a listing on your e-commerce site or send them a PayPal invoice or invoice from your POS system. If you plan to host Facebook Live events on a regular basis, consider investing in a service that streamlines this process. CommentSold is a popular choice. The basic plan is currently $49/month plus 5% of sales, but the software automatically generates invoices and sends them to your customers so it may be worthwhile depending on the frequency and volume of your sales events.
Set clear expectations for your customers. Will you ship items, or only offer local pick-up? Be clear if there is an extra charge for shipping extra, have a plan in place for gathering shipping addresses.
Feel free to create notes for yourself and hold them on a clipboard. Nobody expects you to remember everything when you’re live!
Market your sale
The success of your live sale will depend on who knows about it and their understanding of how it will work. Schedule your sale at least a week in advance on Facebook so that you’re customers have a chance to learn about it. You may also consider selling on Facebook at a consistent time and on a consistent day going forward, maybe the first Monday of the month at 8 pm, or every Friday at noon, for example.
Share about the event on your other social platforms as well as your Facebook page and group, if you have one. Consider doing a Facebook Live chat and teaser for the upcoming sale. You could show some of the setup you have and your overall excitement about your product assortment. You can also post sneak peeks, and countdown reminders on your social media. Be very clear about what the even is, when is happening, and how customers can participate.
Also consider sending information out to your email list prior to the sale, as well as a quick email the day of the sale with a link to your Facebook page and a reminder about the start time. “We start in 2 hours, you coming?”
Don’t get intimidated by the tech! You truly only need a good smartphone, a strong internet connection for streaming, and a well-lit location. A Bluetooth microphone is helpful for improving sound quality while allowing you to move around your space cord-free. A tripod you can set up to hold your phone is helpful. You’ll want to set up your camera to film vertically so that your live video will be mobile-friendly.
It also is great to have a secondary computer, phone or tablet for your helper to read and monitor comments during the live event. Think about your background. Can you declutter, or move to an area that has a pretty background set-up or one that is very simple and tidy. Don’t stand with your back to a window or you’ll be in shadow.
Natural light is great or think about investing in a ring light to create a soft glow. An extra set of helping hands to show products or to model is very helpful, too.
Mindset is crucial
Relax and enjoy yourself during the sale. Make it fun for you! No one wants to watch someone who is stressed out and your audience will mirror your positive energy. It’s a good idea to try to go live for an hour to maximize the number of people who are able to join you and engage. You could offer new and exciting bonus items sprinkled throughout to keep interest high. Periodically provide some context for those who came in late like, “We’re halfway through our exclusive handmade jewelry sales event, and up next is…”
As the sale is beginning, ask viewers if they might know someone who would enjoy the event. Suggest that they could share it with their friends and invite them to join in the fun. Shopping is fun with friends.
When you begin, say hello and acknowledge viewers, but then get right into showing products so there’s not too long of a delay. Then, build community as you go. Remember, this is a personalized shopping event and a big part of the fun is interacting with you! Say things like “Hey Helen, you will love this,” or “Hello Mary from Maine, so glad you are here – what color of these earrings do you like best?” You’ll create superfans when audience members feel seen.
My clients also find that regular attendees become friends and really enjoy connecting during the live sales. This creates a further sense of community and connection for your brand.
Invite your attendees to interact throughout the event. They can comment or react to what you’re saying even when they aren’t buying. The key keeping them engaged. Your helper can respond to the comments and answer written questions as they come up.
End your broadcast with a call to action for attendees, asking them to follow you on other social media platforms or mark their calendar for the next live sale.
After the sale
Be sure to get organized and get your invoices out as soon as possible. Never ship until payment is received.
Take a look at your Facebook analytics for the live video and do some analysis. How was the engagement over time? Use your first live sale as a benchmark and set goals for future events, replicating what worked and tweaking what didn’t.
You are all set for your Facebook Live sale, but don’t skip these last few tips.
- Use the washroom, silly reminder, but you will thank me!
- Have just a quick look in the mirror.
- Turn the music off if you have background music or television on.
- Have a glass of water and tissue nearby.
- Look at the camera (directly at the green light) not the screen. This makes a world of difference when it comes to connecting with viewers.
- Take a deep breath before you go live, and smile. Smiling eases any nerves.
- Go with the flow if things go sideways. They will at some point and they do even for seasoned pros. It’s ok, you’re human, your customers know you are human. Laugh and get on with the show.
- You can refine your system and process as you do your sales so it’s okay to start small and imperfectly. Like everything, you will get better with practice. Just start!
Want to learn more? Check out our article, Hosting a Live Streaming Shopping Event: The Next Big Retail Trend.
Wendy Batten is a down-to-earth retail coach and mentor who works with passionate independent shop owners all over the world. It’s her mission to help and support retailers uncomplicated all the pieces of running a retail business so that they can see more profits and ease. Retail doesn’t have to be so hard.
Wendy is the host of the popular Creative Shop Talk podcast, is the founder of the Retailer’s Inner Circle, a monthly coaching group for independent shop owners, has programs and services for independent shop owners, and is a guest speaker and facilitator at industry events.