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Lessons From China: Live streaming shopping will be retail lifeline post COVID-19


As the coronavirus pandemic continues to evolve and immobilize retail operations, giving the world an imperative reason to shop from home, experts have come to the conclusion that live stream shopping might be the best way for lifestyle brands and retailers to reach consumers in a post-COVID-19 world.

Lessons From China: Live streaming shopping will be retail lifeline post COVID-19

While live stream shopping is still in a teething in India, in countries like China, it has been wildly popular. Even when China was still struggling in the grip of the novel coronavirus pandemic, Toaobao, Alibaba’s live streaming platform and one of the largest e-commerce websites in the world, registered a double digit growth on the number of live stream sessions on its app. The number of merchants using it for the first time grew by 719 percent from January to February. This is a clear indication that brands were increasingly banking on live streaming to get across to their consumers.

The COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdowns has aggravated our addiction to the smartphone. Today, smartphones have progressed into a medium of human connection over the years and hence are a perfect platform for live stream shopping.

The popularity of the retail channel grew so much in recent times that even the Shanghai Fashion Week in late March was fully livestreamed on Taobao. Consumers who streamed the show could pre-order fashion right off the ramp as well as buy pieces from the designers’ existing collections.

For the uninitiated, live stream shopping is a combination of streaming video and e-commerce and promises to transform retailing and customer habits post the coronavirus pandemic. Influencers broadcast in real time, shooting themselves modeling clothes or other goods while their fans and followers can immediately purchase item from embedded links.

In the year 2019, there were 400 million users in the Taobao app watching its 60,000-plus livestream shopping shows and as per the company, since the last three years, the livestream sales have been doubling with each year.

Live stream sales have numerous advantages over conventional e-commerce. First, live stream as a medium of shopping, is more social and interactive which translates to better understanding of a product attributes by the consumer. Moreover, there is a trust factor associated as live stream hosts act as an added layer of protection to guarantee bona fide products for consumers.

As the COVID-19 pandemic ends and things come back to normal, consumers will be on the lookout for new and exciting ways of consuming while still conforming to social distancing norms and live streaming might just be the ticket to grab their attention.