• PinterestTV-ShoppingLive-gray-en-US

What is Shoppable TV? And How Can Retailers Get Started?

Shoppable TV has made the headlines recently. The biggest companies in both traditional TV and connected TV see this as the opportune moment to bring ecommerce to their content.

These are just a few of the recent announcements in the industry:

  • NBC Universal has introduced shoppable TV for the French Open tennis.
  • Netflix is planning to bring shoppable TV to the new season of Emily in Paris
  • ITV launched shoppable TV for its hit reality shows.
  • Pinterest has just introduced a new platform for shoppable videos.
  • YouTube offers brand extensions that make in-video items shoppable.

But what exactly does this trend mean? How does the technology work? And can retailers get involved?

What is shoppable TV?

Shoppable TV today means consumers can buy products when they see them on a TV screen. This is usually achieved through a QR code when the consumer is watching on a “traditional” TV set. On streaming platforms, viewers can click on products to find out more and make a purchase.

Two things have changed of late to make this feasible:

  • Technology: Everyone has a smartphone, plus the TV stations have the technology to display ads that tie into retailer inventory. Digital TV companies (now including Facebook, Pinterest, and YouTube) have spurred innovation in the space.
  • Consumers – Everyone is accustomed to using QR codes now, and shopping online is natural. People consume a huge amount of content on platforms like Netflix, so it makes sense to bring ecommerce to this content. 

For retailers, this creates a significant opportunity. TV has always influenced tastes, but there is a gap between that point of influence and the point of purchase. Shoppable TV collapses that distance.

Imagine you are watching a show on a streaming platform and you notice an item of clothing one of the stars is wearing. With shoppable TV, these items can be linked to retailer inventory. The viewer can then decide to purchase the same item, or a similar piece.

shoppable tv

The experience has to be truly seamless, however. Any friction that impedes the viewer from making a purchase will lead to frustration. 

Moreover, the definition of “shoppable TV” is shifting as the balance of power moves from the TV screen to the mobile screen. 

Connected TV worldwide

In China, live shopping on WeChat video streams is phenomenally popular. This is a natural setting for shoppable TV; users are close to a screen that has ecommerce capabilities built in. 

Some retailers are already taking advantage in the US. In late 2020, Tommy Hilfiger attracted 14 million people to a livestream shopping event and sold out of hoodies in two minutes.


In most countries, shoppable TV still typically refers to smart TV screens that can overlay product information and a QR code or URL. But the future lies in a blend of these arenas, with the TV screen becoming much more connected to the digital world – to the extent that the distinction between the two dissolves. 

“America’s Big Deal”, a new TV show that premiered on October 14th, makes shoppable TV an active part of the show. Inventors pitch their products and viewers purchase their preferred option over the course of the hour-long running time. Whichever product sells the most, wins.

This is a stepping stone in the evolution of this technology; perhaps a necessary one as viewers get used to buying from the screen. The early signs suggest it is working: NBCUniversal’s shoppable TV campaigns, on average, fetch a 73% higher conversion rate than the industry benchmark for commerce-enabled campaigns, which averages around a 1.5% conversion rate.

Yet shoppable does not always mean simply selling what’s on screen, à la QVC. Retailers can sell styles – even moods – that link to the on-screen action. As we move towards the metaverse and an era of multimodal search, the idea of “ecommerce everywhere” will materialise. 

The key is for the consumer to be in control. Allow them to engage and seek out more information on their own terms.  

Benefits of shoppable TV

– Brands can reach consumers at the moment of inspiration. 

– Consumers can go from “I want it” to “I bought it” in an instant.

– Huge opportunity for contextual advertising.

Drawbacks of shoppable TV

– Consumers are not yet accustomed to the notion of shoppable TV. Some may see it as a gimmick. 

– Measurement still lags behind other areas of advertising.

How Cadeera can help retailers get started

The first item to tackle is the retailer’s inventory. It is essential to have structured data with clear labels that can be pulled programmatically from a feed. 

Cadeera, offers auto-tagging to make visual inventory shoppable. We then use computer vision to identify objects and styles within videos, before matching these scenes to the retailer’s inventory. 

Get in touch to find out more about how Cadeera can help you prepare for shoppable TV.


Search & discovery reimagined

Get in touch to schedule a demo

Request a demo