Livestreaming e-commerce has emerged as a game-changing trend in China’s online retail industry, combining digital retail, social media, and real-time streaming to create an engaging and interactive shopping experience. This trend gained momentum in the mid-2010s and has since grown exponentially, transforming China’s online shopping landscape on a massive scale.
Today, livestreaming e-commerce is not just a niche market, but a mainstream sales channel in the world’s most populous nation and the second-largest global economy.
In the following, we will delve deeper into the key drivers of this growth, the challenges that arise, and the potential global implications of this booming industry.
Chinese Live-Streaming Market Overview
The e-commerce live-streaming industry in China has grown significantly in recent years, transforming the way people shop online. The market size has exceeded more than 900 billion yuan (approximately $141 billion) and is expected to continue growing rapidly.
Leading live-streaming platforms such as Taobao Live and JD Live have attracted millions of viewers and generated billions of dollars in sales, with other popular platforms including Kuaishou, Douyin, and Pinduoduo.
E-commerce live streaming is a marketing technique in China that covers various product categories, such as fashion, cosmetics, electronics, and food. Influencers customize their live streams to specific audiences, creating interactive experiences to promote products effectively.
China’s e-commerce live-streaming phenomenon is gaining attention globally, with platforms and live-streaming hosts expanding their reach beyond domestic borders. Cross-border e-commerce live-streaming enables Chinese products to be promoted and sold to international audiences, tapping into the global consumer market.
In 2022, the gross merchandise value of e-commerce live streaming in China amounted to 3.5 trillion yuan, surging from less than 20 billion yuan in 2017. Taobao, Douyin, and Kuaishou were three of the leading live commerce platforms among Chinese online shoppers.
Which Live-Streaming Platform To Use?
One of the key benefits of e-commerce live-streaming services is that it allows brands to engage with consumers in real time and build trust and loyalty. Hosts often have large followings and are seen as trusted experts in their respective fields, making their endorsements and recommendations highly influential.
There are several platforms that are popular for e-commerce live-streaming in China. One of the most well-known platforms is Taobao Live, which is owned by Alibaba. Other popular platforms include Douyin (also known as TikTok in other countries), Kuaishou, Bilibili, and JD Live.
Each platform has its own unique features and audience, so it’s important to do some research and determine which platform would be the best fit for your specific goals and target audience.
Taobao Live is known for its large audience and strong e-commerce integration, making it a popular choice for businesses looking to sell products through live-streaming. It also offers a range of interactive features, such as live polls, virtual gifts, and Q&A sessions, that can help live streamers engage hundreds of millions of viewers and increase sales.
Douyin (TikTok) is popular among younger audiences and is known for its short-form videos and viral challenges.
Kuaishou is another popular platform that is known for its focus on user-generated content and its ability to reach audiences in smaller, more rural areas. It also offers a range of features, such as virtual gifting and live commerce, that can help live stream creators monetize their content.
Bilibili is a popular video-sharing platform in China that has recently ventured into e-commerce live-streaming. It allows users to purchase products directly within the app while watching a live stream. This makes it easy for viewers to buy products they see on the stream, without having to leave the app. Bilibili also offers interactive features such as live chat, bullet comments, and virtual.
JD Live, owned by JD.com, is known for its high-quality live-streaming technology and strong e-commerce integration.
Ultimately, the key to success with e-commerce live-streaming in China is to understand your target audience and choose the platform that best aligns with your goals and objectives.
Top Chinese Livestream Influencers
Each night, top influencers host their own shows. They appear for approximately 4 hours, starting at 8 PM and ending at midnight. They sell highly curated products at deep discounts. Each hour, approximately 12 products are shown. This is 48 products per night. Items can sell out quickly.
Manufacturers pitch the influencers, and an estimated 1/10 of products are selected. Show hosts negotiate with manufacturers to obtain the best prices and to estimate how much they will buy.
To maintain viewers’ excitement and drive them to action, it is important that there is a balance between supply and demand.
The hosts demonstrate, critique, explain, and sometimes answer calls. They also sing and interact with celebrities. When coupons and links are revealed, there is a lot of music and beats. Anchors encourage viewers to take action with calls like “just purchase it” or “grab it right now.”
Strategies For Achieving Growth in China’s E-commerce Live-streaming
Here are some marketing strategies for achieving explosive growth in China’s e-commerce live-streaming:
- Leverage Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs): Partner with popular KOLs who have a large following on social media platforms like WeChat, Weibo, Douyin, and Little Red Book. These influencers can help promote your brand and products to their followers during live streams.
- Host Interactive Livestreaming Events: Create interactive live-streaming events where viewers can participate in quizzes, polls, and games to win prizes. This will help increase engagement and encourage viewers to stay tuned in for longer periods of time.
- Offer Exclusive Discounts and Promotions: Offer exclusive discounts and promotions during live streams to incentivize viewers to make a purchase. This will help drive sales and increase customer loyalty.
- Create High-Quality Content: Produce high-quality content that showcases your products in a visually appealing way. This will help attract more viewers and increase the chances of converting them into customers.
- Use Data Analytics to Optimize Livestreams: Use data analytics to track viewer engagement and behavior during live streams. This will help you optimize future live streams to better meet the needs and preferences of your audience.
Overall, the key to achieving explosive growth in China’s e-commerce live-streaming is to engage with viewers in a meaningful way, offer exclusive promotions, and produce high-quality content that resonates with your target audience.
Marketing Key Opinion Leaders
Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs) play an important role in e-commerce live-streaming. They are individuals who have a significant following on social media platforms, and they are often seen as experts in their respective fields. When they participate in e-commerce live-streaming, they can help to promote products and services to their followers, which can lead to increased sales and revenue for e-commerce businesses.
KOLs can help to create a buzz around a product or service, and they can provide valuable insights and recommendations to their followers. They can also help to build trust and credibility with potential customers, which can be especially important in the e-commerce industry where customers may be hesitant to purchase products online.
One successful example of Taobao Live is the live-streaming event held by Viya Huang, a top live streamer in China. She hosted a live stream featuring Kim Kardashian. Together they managed to sell out 15,000 bottles of Kim’s KKW beauty perfume in minutes.
Another example is the live-streaming event held by Li Jiaqi (Austin Li), another top live-streamer in China, who sold 15,000 lipsticks in just five minutes among tens of thousands of viewers.
Overall, KOLs can be a powerful marketing tool for e-commerce businesses, and they can help to drive sales and revenue through e-commerce live-streaming.
In 2019, Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba reported that live streaming had become a major driver of sales on its platforms. One of the most successful examples of this is the live-streaming e-commerce platform Taobao Live.
Taobao Live was launched in 2016 and has since become one of the most popular live-streaming e-commerce platforms in China. It allows merchants to showcase their products in real-time and interact with viewers, who can purchase items directly through the platform.
One example of Taobao Live’s success is the “618” shopping festival in June 2019, which generated over $30 billion in sales across Alibaba’s platforms. During the festival, Taobao Live saw a 400% increase in the number of merchants using the platform and a 200% increase in the number of viewers.
Another example is the beauty brand Forest Cabin, which used Taobao Live to promote its products and saw a 500% increase in sales during a live-streaming event.
Overall, the success of Taobao Live and other live-streaming e-commerce platforms in China can be attributed to the country’s large and engaged online population, as well as the ability of live streaming to create a sense of urgency and excitement around purchasing decisions.
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China’s e-commerce live-streaming industry has experienced explosive growth in recent years, driven by growing consumer demand for online shopping and the increasing popularity of live video content. This trend has been further accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has forced many consumers to turn to online shopping as a safer alternative to physical stores.
As a result, e-commerce companies and social media platforms in China are investing heavily in live-streaming capabilities and leveraging this technology to drive sales and engage with consumers. This trend is likely to continue in the coming years, as e-commerce livestreaming becomes an increasingly important part of the online shopping experience in China.
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