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Keeping Track of Livestreaming E-Commerce

July 16, 2021 Kelly Kovack
July 16, 2021
Kushagra Kevat via Unsplash

Livestreaming and social commerce are not new concepts. In China both have become mature marketing and distribution channels. Livestreaming emerged in China as a niche tool used by the gaming and e-commerce industries in 2015 and has evolved, driving $125 billion in sales in 2020, up from $63 billion in 2019, according to Coresight.

What's not to like about livestreaming? As Franklin Chu, Managing Director Azoya International, very aptly describes it, "You are entertained by it, you are informed by it and you simply with one click can buy it, pay for it and have it delivered to your door."

In the US, shopping through livestreams is still in the early days but seeing traction. Just follow the money venture capital flooding into livestreaming and social commerce start-ups this year, and nearly all major US social networks have expanded services to include new livestreaming opportunities.

Key Developments on Social Media Platforms

Facebook introduced Live Shopping Fridays in May 2021, during which brands showcase products through Facebook's live shopping feature. Consumers simply tap featured products to learn more, add them to their shopping carts, and check out.

Instagram first introduced live shopping capabilities for merchants that use its in-app payment system Instagram Checkout. In March 2021 the platform increased its livestreaming offering with the launch of Live Rooms, allowing creators the ability to go Live on Instagram with up to three other people.

Pinterest expanded into live events in late May 2021. The platform hosted its first in-app livestreaming event with a group of 21 top creators as hosts. Viewers were able to shop products promoted during the sessions via Product Pins and comment to interact with the hosts.

TikTok partnered with Walmart initially in December 2020 to host a live shopping event, doing it for a second time in March 2021. While Walmart didn't share sales figures from the March event, TechCrunch reported the retailer received seven times more views than expected and a 25% increase in its TikTok follower count.

The Numbers in China

  • According to an eMarketer forecast, total retail livestreaming e-commerce sales in China will reach $299.66 billion in 2021, including livestream sessions on both e-commerce and social media platforms.
  • The total number of livestream e-commerce buyers in China will hit 320.1 million, of which 60.7%, or 194.2 million, will make a purchase via a livestream on social media at least once this year.
  • By 2023, 60.9% of social commerce dollars in China will come from livestream shopping, expected to hit $281.21 billion.
  • Alibaba revealed that it generated $61.7 billion in gross merchandise value in 2020 on its Taobao livestreaming platform for merchants alone and that the number of daily active users on the platform doubled from 2019.

The Numbers in the US

  • According to Coresight, in the US the e-commerce livestreaming market was worth about $6 billion last year and could reach $11 billion in 2021. It expects the US market could eclipse $25 billion by 2023.
  • The Harris Poll reported from a survey in April 2021 that 38% of US adults said they had watched a livestream of someone talking about a product that they might want to buy, but just 7% said they ultimately bought the product based on the presenter's recommendation.

Top global livestreaming e-commerce platforms, according to Tracxn

  • BulBul has raised $26 million in funding to date.
  • ShopShops just closed a $15 million Series B, bringing total funding to date to $35.1 million.
  • Sim Sim is an app-based online marketplace for video commerce that's raised $16 million.
  • Yeay, an online video-enabled marketplace allowing users to sell products via video, has raised $5 million.
  • Popshop Live is an app-based platform for live and interactive shopping that's raised $5 million.
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