Summary List Placement
The moment Cindy Cortez starts livestreaming on Popshop Live, colorful lighting bolts burst across her phone screen. That’s how her customers show how happy they are to see her.
Cortez greets everyone tuning in, calling them her kids. “They call me Mom and John is Dad,” she told Insider, referring to her fianceé who helps her run the store, Newtown HQ. “So we call them our kids.”
Popshop Live is the new-age QVC for Millennials and GenZers, with an interface similar to Snapchat and Instagram Live. Store owners present their latest inventory and shoppers can tap to buy the instant they see something they like held up on screen.
But the platform is more than another ecommerce app — it also serves as a community connecting users across several countries. Although her store is located in the Astoria neighborhood of Queens, New York, Cortez said many of her customers are in Los Angeles and her livestreams have reached people in Chicago, Hawaii, Paris, and Mexico.
Insider spent a few hours with her to watch how she uses Popshop Live to connect with her followers and sell new merchandise.
Cortez does her live stream every Monday from 3 pm to 7 pm
Cortez schedules her livestream every Monday, the one day of the week her store is closed. It’s easier for her to stream when customers aren’t coming in and out of the store, she said.
She also tends to receive shipments on Mondays, so sometimes she gives her Popshop followers an exclusive first-look at brand new inventory and restocks. On the January day Insider visited her store, UPS delivered the Valentine’s Day orders she placed in December.
Ordering early during the pandemic, she learned the hard way, helps get seasonal products delivered in time. “Now it takes up to two or three weeks to get something,” she said. “There’s not as many people packing orders, so you have to wait longer.”
She sets up her phone on a tripod with a ring light
The tripod frees Cortez’s hands so she can pick up products and conveniently move the camera throughout the store. The tripod has a ring light attached, though she didn’t need to turn it on during her stream because most of her store has plenty of overhead lighting.
Once she hits the ‘go live’ button, she greets shoppers as they enter her virtual store
Cortez can see the names of people logging on and says hello as they trickle in. They post comments or respond by sending colorful lightning bolts that pop across the screen — the equivalent of hearts on Instagram.
“People really like it because they get to talk to us in real time,” she said. “It still feels natural. It doesn’t look like you’re looking at a screen.”
She tells them what they’re going to see in the coming hours she’ll be streaming. She explains that she has new inventory to show them, including a Hello Kitty Zaku action-figure set, and that they can preorder Valentine’s gift boxes that she hadn’t listed yet.
Specialty Rice Krispie-like treats were a big hit
She’d just restocked a shelf full of handmade Rice Krispie-like treats from Treat House. To list them on her livestream for customers to purchase, she simply held one treat up to the camera and snapped a photo of it. Then, she typed the name, price, and number in stock into the listing prompt on her screen and saved it to the app. Within seconds, people began to purchase them.
She did the same for each flavor — birthday cake, caramel sea salt, M&M, s’mores, and chocolate peanut butter. Purchases flooded in each time. “Everyone loves sugar!” she said.
When a viewer buys something, a message pops up on her screen with the customer’s name and the item they purchased, and then she thanks them.
Viewers can request to see items they’re interested in
At one point, a few customers wanted to see the mask chains Cortez has in her store. She brought the tripod over to the wall where they hang and sold at least three in just a couple of minutes.
Cortez started her store in December 2019, just months before the pandemic spread to the US. She had been working in fashion and event production and wanted to create a space for nerd culture that felt more curated than the typical stores where she shopped for anime. She adds personal touches, like her love for vintage clothing, evident by a rack of dresses and a pair of brocade Jeffrey Campbell high-heels.
“Even though I’m in my thirties, I still want to buy anime, pop culture stuff, but at the same time I want to buy a nice dress,” she said. “An adult can go and still be a kid deep inside, but also kids come in here and they buy stuff.”
Popshop can also be a way to survey customers in real time
During the livestream, Cortez’s friend came into the store with a bag of homemade cookies she baked. Cortez held them up to the camera to ask viewers which ones they would buy for Valentine’s Day if they made them for the store.
For smaller items, it can be easier to take her phone off the tripod
A couple customers asked in the comments to see some of the jewelry and scrunchies located on a long table in the middle of the store. Cortez took her phone off the tripod to give them a better look.
Some of the scrunchies were made from Japanese fabrics and use a unique fastener to tighten and loosen them. Cortez demonstrated how the mechanism works and how the scrunchie can also be worn as a bracelet.
Viewers got early access to Valentine gift boxes, which sold out by the end of the day
Cortez put together pink, gold, and red heart-shaped boxes filled with products from Rilakkuma Beauty like face masks and hand cream. She gave viewers on Popshop Live a first look at the sets which she said would make good gifts for a “galentine” or self-care. She listed them on the app for pre-order and all of them sold out by the end of the day.
Since she started streaming on Popshop Live, Cortez estimates she makes about half of her sales on the platform
Popshop Live has been a lifeline for Cortez’s store, which she was forced to close for three months during the pandemic following mandatory closures in New York City. She reopened Newtown HQ at the end of June and has still seen a considerable amount of people visiting her store in person.
While many people aren’t comfortable going out, she’s grateful to have a brick-and-mortar for those who are. “Even though a lot of our sales are coming from online, it does help having customers come in,” she said.
Cortez started livestreaming on Popshop in August 2020, and said since then about half of her sales come from the app, 40% in-store, and 10% through the website.
“It’s helped us a lot doing Popshop,” she said. “It really pays most of our bills.”
In one livestream, the store made more than $1,000 in sales and sold out of several items
The Monday Insider visited, Cortez said at least 600 people tuned into her livestream and the store made more than $1,000 in sales on the platform. Insider verified these numbers through documentation provided by Cortez. She sold out of some items including the Valentine pre-order gift sets, a couple handbags, some Rice Krispie-like treats, mask chains, and accessories.
Cortez likes the way Popshop simulates much of the in-person shopping experience that people don’t get on a website. Plus, customers are less likely to make costly returns and exchanges. “It’s real time and I can show them, tell them what it is, and be more detailed about the products,” she said.