A panel at Shoptalk in Las Vegas addressed what's working and what retailers are still figuring out.

As competition for attention persists, brands want to be where attention lands. As retail brands pursue that attention, shoppable video opens the door for purchase opportunities to follow. On the last day of programming at Shoptalk, leaders from two online retailers — Walmart and Fanatics — spoke on the topic. They were joined in Las Vegas by the social media platform TikTok. Together, they assessed why shoppable video is a priority for all of them right now.

Each shared details about their recent pushes into the space. Moreover, they shared what they believe retailers should think about beforehand when launching new campaigns.

How Walmart approaches shoppable video

Jill Toscano from Walmart at Shoptalk

Jill Toscano, vice president, head of media, Walmart, speaking at Shoptalk 2024 in Las Vegas | Photo credit: Digital Commerce 360

Shoppable TV specifically encompasses online video, connected television (CTV), social commerce and livestreaming, according to moderator Amy Lanzi, CEO at the agency Digitas North America. Everyone on stage seemed in agreement that certain objectives are clear and shoppable TV is important. Nevertheless, they also conceded it can be difficult to refine an approach that works at scale.

Walmart has gone from “dabbling into it to testing into it,” explained Jill Toscano, vice president, head of media at Walmart, discussing the mass market retailer’s history with shoppable TV.


“Where we are right now is it’s actually become a viable part of our medium mix, one that we can optimize like any other digital channel,” she said.

Walmart made headlines during the 2023 holiday season with “Add to Heart.” The romantic comedy series on TikTok, Roku and YouTube included prompts to buy products seen during each episode. This area of shoppable TV is known as television commerce — or t-commerce.

Walmart is No. 2 in the Top 1000, Digital Commerce 360’s ranking of North America’s online retailers by web sales. It is also No. 9 in the Global Online Marketplaces Database, Digital Commerce 360’s ranking of top online marketplaces.

Where Walmart is using artificial intelligence

“One of the things that we’re doing is partnering with NBCU on their Must Shop TV technology on Peacock,” Toscano said. “And what it does is it makes certain scenes within Bravo shows shoppable.”


In addition, the Must Shop TV effort leverages “AI technology that identifies objects within a scene and matches it to” products purchasable from Walmart, she said. Those products are “being directly featured or influenced by the show” with the ability to “purchase it right there in the viewing experience,” she explained.

“It’s still a little bit labor intensive,” Toscano admitted, saying the overall effort is “still small” and “in a testing phase.” However, she sees a future for t-commerce where it becomes “automated, prevalent and way more personalized than it is today,” allowing Walmart to build off of what it has already done.

What makes shoppable video valuable to retailers

“There’s a really interesting near-term opportunity, which is conversation and think of a video as an opportunity to have a twoway conversation,” said Chris Lamontagne, president of Fanatics Live at the sports apparel and collectibles seller Fanatics. Fanatics Live is the brand’s livestream shopping platform.

Fanatics ranks No. 25 in the Top 1000. Digital Commerce 360 categorizes it as an Apparel/Accessories retailer. The company expanded into new territory in 2024, manufacturing Nike-designed uniforms for Major League Baseball.


Regarding shoppable video, conversation and engagement as a part of the experience ranked high in importance for both Lamontagne and Toscano.

“We’re actually not looking at the direct sales that it is directly attributable for driving,” Toscano noted. “It will fail every time. But it is driving higher engagement and higher intent to shop, which is the more upper-funnel metrics which matter to us with shoppable video.”

Toscano made a point of articulating what is not working yet with shoppable video to contrast those weaknesses against what does work.

“We know what video is not good at, and it’s not good at trying to close the transaction for a shopper who knows exactly what they want because they’re further down the journey,” Toscano stated.We’ve got search for that way more cost effective. But what video is really good at is intercepting further up that journey.”


Advice to retailers using shoppable video

Ajay Salpekar, head of beauty for TikTok Shop US at TikTok, agreed with Lamontagne and Toscano.

“Video is a different thing from the very linear, search-driven shopping journey,” Salpekar said. “When we have conversations with brands who want to be part of the conversation or want their brands to be part of the cultural conversation, we point out that the beauty of video-driven shopping, whether it’s a livestreaming session or a nine-second short video, is that it may result in a sale — but it will definitely result in conversation.”

In sharing what he tells retail marketers who are on TikTok, Salpekar said his advice is to “engage the entire creator audience in ways that are resonant with their brands, because what works — particularly for Gen Z audiences — is content that is authentic, that comes from a place where these creators have an attachment to a brand where they use [the brand’s] product and the story is very compelling.”

Why content creators are important to Walmart

Toscano echoed those thoughts, elaborating on the role of creator content for Walmart.


When we think about the scale of content that a retailer like Walmart needs, we in no way, shape or form can just create that from our marketing group, and so we rely heavily on tens of thousands of creatorsmicroinfluencers to really talk about our brand through their voice,” she said. “And it’s the authenticity that they bring to the table that makes the content compelling enough for people to want to shop because they believe what that creator is saying.

According to Salpekar, most brands should “develop some comfort with the reality that brand-generated content might be 5% of the equation, because — despite the sophistication for brands’ in-house production or agency production — it simply cannot keep pace with the creativity in volume and quality and authenticity of content you get from the creators.”

In addition, he encourages them to “try as many new and different things simultaneously as they can, because this field is evolving so quickly that the more you try, the more you learn and the more opportunity you have to optimize what works really well for your brands.”

Testing instead of pursuing a silver bullet

Lamontagne offered a similar perspective, saying it’s better to try out many different approaches to find out what resonates than to become too focused on creating “a silver bullet piece of shoppable content.” Instead, he prefers “a bit more of a test, lead and iterate approach.”


Ultimately, Salpekar summed up what distinguishes best outcomes on TikTok from traditional retail marketing as being a matter of finding and amplifying what the community is creating.

“Whereas in traditional commerce you might as a brand be using media to amplify a SKU or a product,” he stated. “For shoppable content or community commerce, you’re using your media dollars to amplify a story or a voice or a particular creator — a particular story behind a product.”

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