If a transaction takes more than three clicks, most people will abandon their purchase. E-commerce has swooped in here, acknowledging people’s increasing interest in the instantaneous and making that process even more streamlined. Social media, and influencers especially, have had a huge impact on people’s purchasing decisions too – on TikTok, the hashtag #tiktokmademebuy it has had over 18.5 billion views. Now, instead of posting one sponsored Instagram ad or a single TikTok review, influencers can create their own telemarketing-esque livestream, reviewing products, answering viewer questions and allowing people to buy products in app, all in real time.
Online shopping has only continued to grow in popularity, but there’s still a longing for that in-person experience that websites just can’t replicate. Though VR and AR have been working to change this, the technology is still inaccessible for many at this stage. In comes live e-commerce, filling that gap. Livestreams can mimic the experience of interacting with a product in person – judging how a material looks in different lighting, how a t-shirt looks on different body types. While YouTube product reviews and Telemarketing do the same, what sets live-commerce apart is the interactivity. Unlike these examples, livestreams can be influenced by the audience in real time through the chat box. If a product is gaining a lot of interest, it can be prioritized, or if a viewer has a question, it can be answered instantly, possibly helping other viewers too who wouldn’t have thought of that question themselves. For many, these streams have not only become a simpler way to shop, but a source of entertainment too.
One person whose personality has caught the appeal of millions is Chinese streamer Li Jiaqi. Hailed as the “king of lipstick”, Jiaqi hopped on the live commerce trend and is now raking in hundreds of millions of viewers per live video. In one twelve-hour stream back in 2021, he sold over $1.7 billion worth of beauty products thanks to audience trust in his unfiltered opinion and ability to entertain. Live commerce has done exceptionally well in China, with the sector expected to reach 423 billion this year (McKinsey). India, South Korea and Brazil have too seen this new shopping sensation take off, but the same success hasn’t yet reached the UK and US.
As of right now, live commerce is still in the testing stage for both the UK and US, with big brands such as Amazon, YouTube and Instagram currently running trials. For some British influencers, live commerce is just too repetitive and tiring, often stretching over the course of hours without any sales. There’s a balance between appearing both casual and professional that for many is hard to achieve. Although audiences should feel as if they’re going on a relaxed and personal shopping trip while watching a stream, a high standard of quality is necessary. From lighting that accurately highlights the products, to clear bright backgrounds that grab people’s attention, to fast internet speeds that ensure the stream doesn’t cut out, there’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes. From a brand side of things, there’s hesitancy too. Key insights made available through a company’s website, such as the time someone spends hovering their mouse over a product, or items left in a customer’s basket before logging off, are insights brands are reluctant to let go of.
If the right personalities take ahold of this opportunity with the right tools to back them up, live commerce can certainly achieve the same success within the UK and US, and brands will not want to miss out.
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