The COVID-19 pandemic shocked the world early this year, severely impacting everyday life. The pandemic has forced everyone to make changes in our day to day lives through implemented safety precautions such as limiting face to face interaction and creating social distancing schemes. As the world is slowly easing into the “new normal”, businesses are searching for fresh and innovative ways to reach their consumers. Given that a lot of face to face marketing initiatives are being put on hold, businesses are turning to a different means of showcasing their products – livestreams.
LIVESTREAM SHOPPING? IS THAT A THING?
More often than not, livestreaming is typically associated with video games. If you look at different livestream platforms such as Twitch, Youtube Live or Facebook Live, a lot of the demographic using livestream is using the platform to stream video games in real time. In these streams, gamers play their chosen video game in real-time while viewers watch the game and comment. However, livestreaming is not limited to just video games.
While it may seem strange at first, livestream shopping is now becoming a reality as more businesses turn to e-commerce channels to sell their products. Comparable to the format of haul videos, livestreams typically feature an famous influencer who try-on or demo the products for the viewers with the added feature of it being broadcasted in real-time The livestream gives the seller a platform to promote their products while giving buyers an instantaneous way to inquire about a product. With the help of livestreams, sellers are able showcase their products directly to interested buyers who can easily purchase them with just a few clicks.
Although it seems like a completely new medium, livestreams have been utilized for online selling since 2016 by e-commerce platforms in China. It reached peak popularity in China back in 2018 reaching up to sales worth 300 million RMB (43 million US$) with a viewership of around 10 million per stream.
Livestream selling in China has become an exponential success and some brands are taking note of this. Last November, Kim Kardashian sold out all the stock of her perfume within minutes after appearing on a livestream on T-Mall with Viya Huang. Coincidentally, a sub-brand of H&M, Monki also tried their hand at livestream selling, releasing their own livestreaming feature on their website where users can “buy-from-broadcast” as staff from Monki show off their newest pieces, how they would style it and answer questions from viewers.
Livestream shopping is starting to become an essential form of advertising in today’s “new normal” not only in China but in other countries as well. Its popularity has since spread throughout Asia and is starting to gain traction in countries like the United States as the platform is comparable to infomercial shopping channels like QVC which was broadcasted live on TV.
Amazon released Amazon Live earlier this year and other companies such as Facebook and Instagram are currently developing ways they can incorporate livestream selling into their platform. While livestream shopping is currently in its infant stages in the US, it shows a lot of promise considering its success in Asia.
In Southeast Asia alone, livestream shopping has already been integrated in two of the most popular e-commerce platforms in the region, Lazada and Shopee. They both released their own versions of livestream shopping on their platforms, LazLive and Shopee Live respectively.
In a way, livestream shopping is a blend of the old and the new. It is familiar and nostalgic with its similarity to the infomercial shopping channels we used to see on TV blended with elements from today’s digital age, social media, online shopping and the use of influencers. Additionally, with the new normal we are facing, livestream shopping has given sellers and buyers a chance to still interact with one another given the need for everyone to social distance and stay at home as much as possible.
THE FUTURE OF LIVESTREAM SELLING?
With the world currently experiencing a pandemic that has significantly impacted our everyday lives, it is no surprise that livestream selling has been gaining more and more popularity. Livestream selling has allowed businesses to directly interact with their customers, adding a personal touch to the experience of online shopping. This is especially important in a time where face to face interaction needs to be limited.
That being said, this is only just the beginning for livestream selling. With the boom of e-commerce, you can definitely expect to see more platforms and brands using livestreaming to sell their products.
Visual by: Chloe Gaw