Blog: Why Walmart’s Social Selling Expansion Should Scare and Inspire You

The recent announcement that Walmart will expand its social selling efforts through TalkShopLive, a rapidly growing social commerce platform, reflects both the growing convergence of content and commerce, as well as the Bentonville giant’s determination to stay at the forefront of both.

Less than three months after announcing its first foray into the TalkShopLive platform, Walmart late last month announced a full suite of programs aimed at selling everything from vegan ice cream to cruelty-free makeup, premium food for dogs to Mattel toys. Good news for furniture retailers, no home furnishings on the schedule…yet.

For those of you unfamiliar with social selling and TalkShopLive, the platform allows a video player to be embedded into an e-commerce site, turning every video into a point of sale. All “shows” on the live streaming platform can be shared on social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, and viewers/buyers can not only purchase the programming, but also interact with the hosts and the show’s guests in real time.

Likewise, purchases can be made in real time and directly within the lineup, eliminating the need to click away from the lineup to make a purchase.

This is certainly not the first time that marketers have tried to create buyable entertainment. Putting aside home shopping networks like QVC and others, NBC has attempted similar efforts for years, at one time allowing viewers to purchase products seen on certain shows and, more recently, to develop “buyable ads”.

It’s simply the newest and most sophisticated effort yet to seamlessly integrate entertainment and commerce in a way that captures consumers’ attention and translates it into sales.

This is both a threat and an opportunity for furniture retailers. The threat comes from the power and influence of the big box stores. Given an early advantage at the start of the pandemic through their “essential business” label, there are strong indications that Walmart, Target and other big-box formats are both able and interested in leveraging these traffic gains for a greater furnishing presence. This, coupled with their efforts to keep pace with or even overtake Amazon in e-commerce, suggests strong potential for dramatic market share gains in home furnishings.

The opportunity is to recognize and react to the integration of content and commerce. The pandemic has clearly demonstrated the power and potential of e-commerce. And while there has been growing talk of harnessing the power of the store as its impact has waned – and this remains important – retailers who want to remain successful in the coming decade(s) must play effectively in the digital space.

And that doesn’t just mean facilitating transactions across all platforms. This means recognizing that an increasing share of consumers’ time and attention is devoted to the digital realm and that successful businesses will have as much of an impact on content as they do on commerce.

Successful retail will increasingly involve a holistic approach to interacting with consumers, not just selling to them.


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