The new ecommerce trend: livestreaming

by Alastair Tempest: CEO at Ecommerce Forum South Africa.

Have you tried livestreaming on your e-shop yet? Recent indications in China and the USA indicate that livestreaming may be the future of ecommerce. For example, China-based livestreaming app Kuaishou went public a few weeks ago following spectacular gross merchandise volume growth in 2020, while payment unicorn Klarna recently partnered with ShopShops to offer livestream shopping during its second virtual shopping event.

According to estimates by HSBC and Qianhai Securities, livestreaming is expected to generate up to 20% of China’s total ecommerce sales by 2022, up from 10% in 2020. Chinese live video platforms are quickly adding commerce features, while ecommerce leaders such as Alibaba and have both increased livestreaming in the past year, including a push from Alibaba’s AliExpress in Western Europe.

Following China’s lead, livestreaming is slowly gaining traction in the USA. Amazon has been experimenting with livestream shopping for some time now and there are strong indications that it plans to add electronic commerce functionality in video overlays.

The reasons why:

  • Luxury brands had already been experimenting with livestream shopping in China, but the pandemic has pushed a number of them to start livestreaming their runway shows in other regions as well. For example, Burberry livestreamed its Spring/Summer 2021 on US-based Twitch, a very popular livestreaming platform among gamers.
  • Facebook launched Instagram Live Shopping in the US at the end of 2020, making it possible for sellers to tag products when they go live and for buyers to purchase these products. Tiktok is also reportedly working on a livestream shopping feature, which could further boost livestream commerce penetration outside of China.
  • Startups such as Mai and Instreamatic are using Artificial Intelligence to make it possible to add shopping features to visual and audio content respectively. These solutions allow content creators, including brands and retailers, to offer livestream shopping experiences on their own platforms.

Useful resources:
Ecommerce Forum South Africa
It is the goal of the EFSA to increase awareness, confidence and capability of the ecommerce industry in Africa.
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