Social media, especially Instagram has increased the popularity of live streaming and eCommerce seems to have noticed. Like many other innovation in eCommerce, the China seem to be taking the lead. SCMP Research predict Chinese live streaming market would exceed 600 million users this year. Simply speaking, due to the lockdown live streaming eCommerce has never been so popular. Unfortunately live streaming has not been incorporated in the online shopping experience in other countries. However, the recent boom of online shopping has created even greater competition on the internet. In order to differentiate themselves, some brands have decided to embrace live streaming. The hope is to experience the kind of success witnessed by these brands. Regardless, live streaming is set to transform global eCommerce from 2020 onward.
eCommerce live streaming started in China in 2014 with Mogujie and Alibaba owned Taobao taking the lead. Both companies happen to have the same 18 – 23 female clothing target market. The live streaming experiment was initially a tactic to boost the average spend of this notoriously cash poor demographic. A lazy explanation would liken it to QVC teleshopping in the US. However, social media interaction gives a level of viewer engagement and reach that QVC could never have dreamed of. Live stream informs customers, entertain them and trigger sales.
Over the past three years, the growth has been quite remarkable. The globally famous Singles Day shopping event has become the largest online and offline day in the world. It saw Alibaba and its competitors rake in $45 billion in 2018. In 2019, Alibaba alone saw online sales exceeding $38 billion. Competition is becoming so fierce with Alibaba battling, TikTok , Tencent and others in a tug of war of consumer attention and sales.
Needless to say the rest of the world has taken notice, starting with China’s neighbors. Businesses globally are starting to embrace live streaming more and Alibaba has decided to evangelize this message. Alibaba, through subsidiaries in Thailand, Russia and the Philippines have driven the increased growth of eCommerce with the use of live streaming. Japanese eCommerce giants Rakuten and Mercari have integrated live streaming features to get ahead of the pack. On the other hand, Seoul based LF Corp unveiled live chat to enable communication between vendors and buyers.
Nevertheless, North American has woken up with teleshopping staple QVC embracing eCommerce live streaming. It represented two thirds of QVC’s sales in the first quarter of the year. This is part of a digital strategy that has embraced the use of Youtube and Facebook live. Amazon predictably has ventured into live streaming without notable success as of yet. Even so, new US entrants Popshop Live are looking to make an impact on the market. The Popshop Live platform enables vendors to host a shopping channel opening up a new stream of income. The success or failure of this venture will give lessons on our unique North American markets adapt to eCommerce live streaming. It could also tell us something about how it can be adopted in Europe and other regions.