When Jenna Powell gets in front of a camera, she can sell $10,000 worth of sparkly dresses and tie-dye hoodies in 40 minutes.
Powell, whose three Jennaration shops in Alabama were closed at the start of the pandemic, has put all her focus on selling through live videos, broadcasting live several times a week to 400 people who watch on Facebook or her store's app. She puts on clothes from her shop, spins for the camera and tries to get viewers to buy.
"This top is a deal for $22!" Powell says in a recent video about a leopard print sweater she is wearing. "It is just very, very well made, y'all!"
Livestream selling, already popular in China, is taking off in the US, ushering in a new way for Americans to shop online. Instead of searching for what they want, they pick up their phones, sit back, and click to buy if they like what they see.
This way of shopping is expected to ring up nearly $5 billion in sales this year, and reach $25 billion in 2023, according to retail data firm Coresight Research.
The pandemic is helping to fuel the boom. Business owners with closed stores have taken to livestreaming to sell animal print tops, heated eyelash curlers and just about anything else.
They have a captive audience: Many Americans stuck at home with nowhere to go are looking for something to watch.
At the same time, tech companies, including Facebook, Instagram and Amazon, have made it easy for businesses to livestream from their smartphones.
"It is real life. It is not like looking at a Victoria's Secret catalogue. I am a real person," says Powell, whose livestreams helped her seven-year-old business nail its best-selling month in April, even though her stores were shut.
CommentSold, which makes the software that Jennaration and more than 4,000 other stores use to livestream, expects users to sell $1 billion worth of goods this year, more than triple last year.
Most of the shoppers tend to be women over the age of 35, who chat with each other in the comments about which outfits they like or what they want to buy.
"It is like going on a shopping trip together," says CommentSold founder Brandon Kruse.
Dan Hodges, CEO of retail advisory firm Consumers in Motion, thinks livestreaming will transform online shopping because it adds a human touch missing from e-commerce: a live person who can answer questions and make recommendations.
Beauty brand Chella started livestreaming on Amazon about a year ago, showing shoppers how to use its eyebrow gels, heated eyelash curlers and mascaras. The average video gets about 3,000 views, which Chella says is a big audience for a small brand.