The live shopping assistant is replacing the store associate

2020 saw the emergence of a new breed of commerce – the live shopping experience. In this type of experience customers would interact with a live shopping influencer, watch products in real time and when ready, purchase the products directly in stream. At the center of it sits a very important person: the live shopping assistant or influencer.

We’ll see an increasing number of people switching to this kind of job in 2021.

The live shopping assistant as a new job

As the marketing industry would point out the influencers already do this on the likes of Instagram and Snapchat. I see a new breed of “influencer”. The one who knows a product category very well, is well trained (practice makes perfect) in speaking with customers and … needs a more fulfilling job. A store associate in the age of live: the live shopping assistant.

Can live shopping create jobs for the laid-off retail workers?

In 2020 2 million retail workers lost their jobs to the changes brought in by the pandemic. Many of them had to quickly find alternatives when their stores were closed.

Now live shopping will hopefully bring back some hope and more fulfilling, better paid jobs and gigs. Unlike the traditional store associate job, the live shopping assistant/influencer has the potential to become a real superstar.

In more established live shopping markets, such as China, live shopping streamers such as Viya are gathering millions of customers in their live shows and selling brands such as Tesla, Procter and Gamble. Fun fact – she even sold a package sent to outer space for $6 million.

Listen to “Is the live shopping assistant the future of retail jobs?” below:

Why the store associate as we knew it is not a viable career path anymore?

For a very long time the store associate has been at the heart of brick and mortar stores. Store associates would greet customers, respond to queries, help find products and generally help customers with their purchases.

However, the emergence of digital tools and especially smartphones has rendered store associates almost obsolete. But that may change with live stream shopping and they may become the leading actors in the age of live shopping.

In a recent study by MillwardBrown that focused on customers purchasing athletic footwear we can see just how useful a store associate is these days.

Of those that chose to shop in store, only 12% listed the sales person as one of the reason to purchase offline. Most (88%) chose to try on the product before purchasing.

It’s not just sports shoes. A study by Deloitte Digital shows that customers would rather receive help from an interactive kiosk or their own smartphone rather than a store associate.

As you can see above the willingness to use a smartphone rather than discuss with a sales associate is almost double. Even an impersonal unmanned device such as an interactive kiosk would fare better than a store associate.