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Evolution of Shopping: Live Video Commerce

Akemi Trinindad
October 7, 20193 mins read

This will be a different topic to discuss on the blog, we usually talk about the community and software updates on this space but for this article – we shall tackle something else that is e-commerce but still in the realm of live streaming.

Late September 2019, Samantha Cheh wrote an article on Tech Asia on how live streaming is enhancing the eCommerce experience. This live stream shopping trend has been slowly growing in popularity in these recent years. It started in China and has been slowly creeping into the US market via Amazon Live. Before we go further with this discussion, let’s start from the beginning.

Back in the day, consumers have always bought merchandise from either a physical store or a merchant. This is the normal retail shopping that we know of, where you go to a physical store to inquire about an item and its selling price, maybe haggle a little, maybe purchase the item and then leave. It might be a simple process back then, right? When you like an item you saw on display, then you will most likely purchase it. But these days, we most likely do not have the time to go to a physical store and look for the item you’ve been meaning to purchase for whatever purpose it might serve.

Through the years, the shopping experience has evolved to be able to cater to our fast-paced lifestyles and has a huge emphasis on convenience. Thus, the creation of the home TV shopping channels in the late ’70s. This trend has steadily grown in popularity in households over the years – with the popularity of television use for distribution of news and some sports updates until the launch of cable TV in the 1940s

In this article from 2008, Isabel Isidro mentioned that if you want great exposure to your product then home shopping networks can be for you! One advantage is that once a product is featured during a timeslot, there is also a demonstration involved showing what the product is, what it does, the benefits of purchasing and owning one, and the value for money – response and purchase may be instantaneous but you’ll need to have a huge inventory to keep up with the demand. Another thing is, showcasing your product on the show might not necessarily mean that it’ll be a hit so there’s also a huge risk involved.
But who has time to watch TV these days? We’re all almost always on our mobile and browsing social media – with 5.11B unique mobile users, 4.39B of which are internet users, and 3.48B are on social media. With the growing internet and mobile consumption, it is not far that commerce will progress online to offer more convenience and accessibility to the people who need it. We also need to note that for the past year, Amazon and Taobao have been named the top websites visited – that says a lot for our online content consumption.

E-commerce has boomed through the years, with earnings surpassing most of the current retail stores causing the recent ‘retail apocalypse’ as shoppers are now shifting to online shopping for their needs.

But we need to step it up further, what makes online shopping more interesting is the thrill of doing the sale on live stream! Taobao does it best, as one of the most competitive live commerce platforms in China.

taobao live website homepage
Screenshot from the Taobao Live website.

Who says live streaming is just for broadcasting video gameplay? For other parts of the world, like China, IRL streaming takes 80% of the total streaming population. Similarly, the landscape of live stream commerce has become a massive trend in China and slowly transcending into other countries – another advantage of live streaming in e-commerce is that you can interact with the merchant and receive a realtime response. The immediate response or engagement from the seller tends to have a positive impact on the curious audience – making them want to buy the product more during a live sale broadcast, that’s a sale right there!

It goes to show that live streaming can be used not just for entertainment purposes but can also uplift and advertise a business or product in real-time. To most in the western countries, we see live streaming as a means of entertainment, whereas in our Asian brothers – they have been utilizing the power of live broadcasts not just for entertainment but also for business. It might be odd so some people, but this is an emerging trend that will truly be widespread in the near future making e-commerce platforms more competitive and entertaining.

Akemi Trinindad

Social Media Specialist. She's mainly on Instagram @akemi_loves - loves food, travel and sometimes photography.More from this Author