Live Commerce: A Trend Or A Temporary Whim Of The Industry?
July 15, 2022
Live Commerce: A Trend Or A Temporary Whim Of The Industry?
Strange as it may seem, not everyone knows about streaming or "live" online sales. At the same time, experts and market analysts predict a bright future for live commerce, to the point that the new phenomenon will eventually replace many other ways of purchasing over the Internet.
Live commerce is a way of online shopping that combines the direct inclusion of a seller, blogger, or influencer, with the ability to purchase a streamed live product instantly. For example, while watching a cooking video, you can immediately purchase all the necessary ingredients.
Anyone who first hears about live commerce immediately associates it with infomercials, which originated in the 1970s and 1980s in the U.S. and spread around the world. But live commerce is not telemarketers 2.0.
Now more than ever, it is important to retain the audience, so the presenter must be able not only to sell but also to entertain. Streaming is not a monologue, but a show, during which the streamer answers incoming questions about the product. Users see not just a picture but an interactive product card with elements stimulating a purchase.
The effectiveness of the format is hardly in doubt. Before the 11.11.2021 sale, Chinese blogger Austin Li Jiaqi sold $1.7 billion worth of merchandise in 12 hours of streaming, and the stream received 250 million views. But what is livestream shopping—a short-term trend that's peaking or something more? Let's look into it.
Live commerce implementation worldwide
As expected, the trendsetters were the Chinese. Three of the five largest e-commerce sites are currently located in China. Live commerce was first used on TaoBao back in 2016. Today, this format sells almost everything in China—cosmetics, perfumes, clothing, and even farm supplies or cars.
Taobao Live has become the market leader in live commerce, accounting for 80% of China's streaming. The platform has spawned many streamer bloggers. Sometimes live events are held together with celebrities. For example, blogger Viya and Kim Kardashian sold 15,000 bottles of perfume in several minutes in 2019. Now there are about 9,000 companies in the Chinese market that work in live commerce.
In the U.S., the leader in streaming is Amazon, which launched the Amazon Influencer program back in 2017, with live sales a little later. The company also has an Amazon Live service, where bloggers can showcase products and receive a commission on units sold.
In December 2020, 10 bloggers on TikTok sold Walmart products—viewers could place an order directly on the app during the broadcast. The event attracted 7 times more viewers than planned and helped increase the number of TikTok subscribers by 25 percent. Gradually, commerce has been integrated into social networks like Facebook and Instagram. YouTube planned to introduce a shoppable stream feature in 2022.
A successful case that even garnered professional awards at The Drum Awards for Content 2021 was the creation by Pringles, together with the Twitch platform, of a zombie cowboy who eats chips. The "walking dead" broadcast became the most-watched stream in the UK. After this collaboration, Pringles' share of customers increased by almost 14%.
Future prospects for the format
TaoBao CEO Jiang Fan believes that livestream shopping will not only be relevant in the future but will become the main sales model. Forecasts also hint at this.
According to Statista, the video streaming market will reach $82.43bn in 2022, and the number of users will reach 1,486.8m by 2026.
For example, China had 617 million online users at the end of 2020, representing 62.4 percent of the country's total internet users. Meanwhile, the live e-commerce audience reached 388 million, 123 million more than in March of the same year, accounting for 39.2% of China's total users. It is also worth mentioning that 66.2% of customers place orders after watching live e-commerce videos.
Who should develop live commerce and on what platforms
One of the main questions retailers are concerned about today: who is suitable for this promotion format. Experts believe it can be used by both large and small brands, although there are certain nuances.
Large businesses have more streaming opportunities—they can use any platform to attract popular bloggers or stars. For small companies, it makes more sense to use social networks and marketplaces, and the project owner can act as a presenter. The main thing is that the brand has something to say and is not afraid to show the underside of the business and lose control of the situation.
Website or app for the online store
It is difficult for a retailer to launch live commerce independently—it takes much time and is expensive. It is more profitable to work with contractors—you can integrate with a streaming platform in 1 day instead of several months, and this is dozens of times cheaper than coding by yourself. The site interface provides everything you need to increase sales—in front of the buyer's eyes is a card, and under the finger—the button "Buy," you can move the discussed product in the foreground.
But even in this case, it is important to understand that live commerce is not a magic pill but a marketing tool that must be used competently, and have the resources to develop. It is important to study the audience, adapt the streams for it, and hold them regularly. Streaming should become an element of a well-thought-out sales funnel. Your streams should be saved in the product card because they contain useful content.
The main advantage of promoting on your site is that there is no need to adjust to the marketplace terms, and you can contact users independently. Research shows that users spend 20% more time in applications with live streaming.
Marketplaces have a strong position concerning live commerce. The main advantages are:
A large audience (tens and hundreds of thousands of people). Low cost of attracting traffic. Ample opportunities to motivate streamers and buyers.
The functionality of marketplaces allows you to host streams, communicate with viewers, and analyze sales in real time. The entry threshold for streaming on marketplaces is minimal—you can stream from your phone and show products anywhere.
The disadvantages are that the format is not yet too well promoted, with only a hundred or two people watching some of the streams. But records of broadcasts become part of product cards, and the video in the card increases conversion by more than 20%. You can post live recordings on your site.
Any seller can start a live stream, but you have to request the support of the marketplace to gain an audience. Customers can find out about the broadcast a day before it happens; information about that appears on the main page. Customers also get a push before the broadcast of interest begins.
Social media and platforms
All social media platforms—YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, Instagram—are moving toward live commerce. While shopping on social networks is not as convenient—you can review the product and chat with the blogger, but you have to go to personal messages or the website to order.
In the near future, social networks are planning to add shopping functionality so that they can be made from video. Cues and links will appear during the broadcast, and all video content will be tagged.
Having studied experts' opinions, cases, statistics, and assumptions, we concluded that live commerce is a new stage of e-commerce evolution that will be with us for a long time. What do you think?