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Streaming up sales: The rise of live shopping

Sphere is a cultural research tool that studies online data and applies machine learning models for deeper, more empathetic insights. This time, it looks into what drives #liveshopping.

In an age of personalized marketing, livestream shopping is a warm, welcoming cure to the detachment of traditional e-commerce.

Like many things do, it first took off in China on local platforms like Taobao Live and Kuaishou during the onset of the pandemic, and it has steadily grown everywhere else since.

Between March 2020 to July 2021, livestream shopping on TikTok rose by 76% around the world. With the expected revenue from global live shopping sales slated to hit US$500B this year, it’s the next big format that retailers would be wise to get on.

Live shopping is a type of video e-commerce usually featuring high-energy influencers who demonstrate products and interact with viewers in real time. There are rapidfire live chats and polls and viewers get an up-close look at products before buying via call-to-action links.

Image: http://www.clefad.co.kr/clef/live/

You could call live shopping a revved up renaissance of home shopping channels from the ’80s, where one could buy anything from precious gemstones to toilet seat lamps without leaving the couch.

It’s ValueVision for the internet generation, complete with flash sales, crazy giveaways and exclusive discounts. By replicating the interactivity of in-store shopping from the comfort of a screen, live shopping melds the best parts of commerce into an exciting virtual experience that will grow in creativity as technology advances.

Using Sphere to explore this rising retail trend, we find out where live shopping is happening and what’s for sale.

Where are consumers are live shopping?

Search keywords around the world related to “live shopping” and “live commerce” centred around some key brands:

Related searches were mainly seeking out streams on social media platforms (TikTok and Facebook), from e-commerce retailers (Amazon and Flipkart), or from good old home shopping channels (QVC and TVSN).

What’s selling on social media?

It was no surprise that TikTok turned out to be the social media platform most associated with live shopping. The wildly popular short-form video platform lets retailers put quick-paced, interactive and entertaining content in limited time.

Sphere did an analysis of posts on #tiktokshop to see what type of items were on sale:

1. Style & Fashion

Brand new sneakers, vintage accessories, pre-loved apparel — fashion was a big seller on TikTok.

https://www.tiktok.com/@jhoycenon_/video/7134559778860272922

2. Art & Entertainment

Little knick knacks and handicraft were up for sale, as were cosplay costumes and fandom merch.

https://www.tiktok.com/@donnamariz_/video/7128745175530097946

3. Food & Drink

An interesting phenomenon was the sale of food and drinks on TikTok — enterprising foodies eating and selling their favorite snacks.

https://www.tiktok.com/@whatlizhaseaten/video/7145774340217376002

Selling streams and living dreams

In recent years, large corporations have gotten in on the live shopping game. But for the most part, it continues to exist as an accessible, low-cost platform for individuals and small businesses to promote their products.

The ease of technology breaks down barriers and creates opportunities that transcend capital investment and brick-and-mortar locations. Live streaming has opened doors for anyone with some time and basic editing skills to reach a wider, global audience.

Write to anurag.banerjee@quilt.ai for more information on how Sphere can radically transform the way your company understands online data.

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