In our Judge.me Spotlight series, we focus on a Shopify Tech Partners Meetup attendee who's making moves in e-commerce. If you'd like to be featured, come to one of our events and email firstname.lastname@example.org with your details and what you believe makes your story special. This month, we sat down with LiveMeUp’s Guillaume Faure, who told us about his journey into e-commerce.
Hi Guillaume. Let’s start at the beginning. Tell me about LiveMeUp.
We’re a tech company doing live video commerce. And in many ways, we’re still at the beginning of the story. There’s a lot of interest in video commerce, but widespread adoption is still yet to happen. Merchants are very enthusiastic – they’re questioning us about how to do it, what’s the benefit, how much time does it take, how much does it cost, and so on. It’s an exciting time.
How did you find yourself in e-commerce? What’s the story?
I’d been working in Shanghai, China for 15 years on behalf of a French retailer. We had a professional relationship with AliBaba and that was how I first experienced the power of live video commerce to engage, to convert, and to sell. A big influencer would direct the audience to a brand, and that brand would make a lot of sales in a very short period of time.
Three years ago, I founded LiveMeUp. We had a very international focus from the beginning – everything was in English. And our mission was to give every merchant the power to host live e-commerce events just as easily as they could broadcast on Instagram: one smartphone, one click, and you’re live on your site. It took a year to build the product and test it, and then we threw ourselves into the Shopify ecosystem.
Did you receive any advice along the way?
We learned a lot speaking to Judge.me’s PJ. We met him in London at the end of last year, and he gave us some really sound advice about Shopify. He explained that as a brand within the Shopify ecosystem, it’s really important to tailor your experience for that ecosystem – to understand its features, work with any changes that take place, and look to build integrations and form networks within it. That was enormously useful.
How does the approach to live video commerce differ in China compared to the West for example?
They’re very different. In China, through WeChat, the main social network and e-commerce platform are combined. People can move back and forth between talking to their friends and shopping for products within one click. In Western countries, everything is fragmented. Some social networks have tried to include e-commerce, but it hasn’t had anything like the success they hoped it would have. There’s still a lot of uncertainty around who (if anyone) will build the bridge between e-commerce and social network. For now, we have to work from the bottom up, making those connections ourselves through integrations and partnerships. In China, everything is already combined.
What challenges have you faced since you launched the company?
At the beginning, we weren’t focused. We thought our technology should be available across as many e-commerce environments as possible. We began to build with this mission in mind, but we quickly spread ourselves too thinly and started to lose our focus. We understood then that our goal wasn’t to ‘plug’ our solution everywhere, but to integrate it somewhere. The environment that delivered the most value to us was Shopify. Until that moment when we made the decision to focus squarely on Shopify, it was a bumpy road.
A second insight was the importance of marketing. We hadn’t given it much thought at the start, but we soon realised that it was vital to consider how we spoke to our potential customers, how we acquired them, and, specifically, how we onboarded them. That’s a key focus for us at the moment. We want to deliver a clean experience for merchants using LiveMeUp.
What advice would you give to other e-commerce tech companies?
Learn from our mistake. There are so many things that you can do – the tech aspect of the work, marketing across a dozen channels – but what really makes a difference is choosing one thing and doing it well. It might take six months, but do it well. Taking this approach has clarified everything for us. The temptation for any entrepreneur is to think, ‘The more I do, the more places I am, the greater the chance I give myself to be seen and make acquisitions.’ The truth is that you can’t take this approach and maintain high standards. It’s impossible – especially when you’re starting out. So my advice: pick your battles; work on one thing at a time; refine, refine, refine until you’ve done everything you can. Then move on. Of course, there’s a chance you could pick the wrong thing and waste all your resources. But that’s entrepreneurship!
How valuable are events like the Judge.me Shopify Tech Partners Meetup?
Very valuable. I always meet fascinating people and they’re invariably really helpful. To give you an example, I met Ed Laver [Judge.me’s next speaker] at one event, and he was incredibly generous with the resources he shared with me. He explained to me that the companies that go on and succeed in this community always have insights and materials to share with others, and everything balances out in the long term. That generosity was mind-blowing. There is competition in e-commerce, because that’s the nature of markets, but there’s also an extraordinary sense of community. I’ve discovered that people will always share insights, share contacts, share good practices, share resources. The value of events like Judge.me Shopify Tech Partners Meetup’s, given that it’s free, is enormous.
Finally, what do you like doing in your free time?
I cycle! I live in Lille, so I can cycle to Amsterdam in a couple of days.
Thanks for your time, Guillaume.
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