Taobao and sellers livestream product pitches to boost sales


E-commerce sellers are using video to livestream product pitches – a phenomenon akin to America’s Home Shopping Network or the QVC shopping channel. An enterprising e-commerce seller on Alibaba’s Taobao or speaks to potential customers via live video broadcast giving them reasons to buy. Both online shopping platforms have integrated livestreaming video capabilities for sellers, capturing the attention of customers close to point of sale.

A report by the South China Morning Post estimates that the livestreaming industry in China is worth US $4.4 billion. To put that whopping number in perspective, the US box office is worth roughly US$5 billion. As theUS$500 billion e-commerce industry and livestreaming trend cross paths, the revenue potential may prove to be enormous.

“Live-streaming in the e-commerce industry has become similar to home shopping channels in the US … except you can engage with the merchants and they can answer any questions you have live,” said Tiffany Wan in an interview with South China Morning Post. Wan is general manager of VS Media, which represents livestreaming personalities in Hong Kong and Mainland China. “E-commerce and live-streaming in China go hand in hand, where brands and merchants see the opportunity to make sales on the spot.”

Taobao’s feature that lets sellers use video to livestream products is called “Taobao Live”. It consists of a giant list of online merchants selling their wares and targets users with content that matches their shopping preferences. The platform allows merchants to link a series of products to the livestreaming session so customers can purchase an item without exiting the video feed.

Taobao reports Taobao Live has a 32% conversion rate, and during shopping holiday Single’s Day, received 3 billion views. Taobao Live emphasized the opportunity livestreaming integration offers sellers, citing as much as 90% of some shops’ sales linked to livestreaming sessions.

China’s culture of social media influencers and livestreaming celebrities isn’t mirrored in the West, where apart from targeted advertising, social media maintains a greater distance from online shopping. Livestreaming stars in China work dedicated hours and achieve gainful employment by endorsing and selling products while maintaining a fashionable lifestyle.

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