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European shoppers open to ‘shoppertainment’ as Chinese live streaming starts to take off

Live streaming: the new face of ecommerce?

As many as 70% of European shoppers are at least interested in experimenting with live streaming ‘shoppertainment’ as a way of enhancing their experience of ecommerce, a study by Chinese marketplace giant AliExpress reveals.

Originating from China, livestreaming commerce is now one of the most popular consumer-facing digital innovations. Following the sensational success of livestreaming technology across China and Asia – as well as its proven growth in Europe in the post-COVID era – AliExpress commissioned Forrester Consulting to examine the potential of this ‘shoppertainment’ trend in the UK and Europe and provide guidance for retailers and sellers to leverage this emerging form of e-commerce. 

It found that, of the 14,460 online adults in France, Poland, Spain, and the United Kingdom surveyed, two thirds have been buying more online, while 70% of surveyed consumers expressed interest in live streaming. Almost half of the surveyed consumers have increased their consumption of ‘shoppertainment’ content as a result of COVID-19.

“As the pioneer of ‘shoppertainment’, AliExpress is dedicated to help develop the ecosystem and create more job opportunities in Europe where this form of e-commerce is starting to emerge and show prevalence following the pandemic,” explains Vita Chang, Head of Content Operations Ecosystem at AliExpress. “While the trend is still nascent in Europe at the moment in comparison to Asia, this study indicates the potential of ‘shoppertainment’ in Europe. Customers are open to embrace new trends and technologies that can enhance their shopping experiences. This is a real commercial opportunity for sellers and retailers who knows how to leverage this trend strategically.”

How to navigate ‘shoppertainment’ strategically

The study yielded important findings for retailers and sellers interested in exploring ‘shoppertainment’. The leading product categories that draw consumers’ attention to ‘shoppertainment’ channels are electronics, fashion, and cosmetics. Customers are most engaged when sellers conduct livestreaming events, featuring content that is short, trustworthy, relatable, informative – and presented by a host they like.

In addition, the study breaks down European consumers into six personae by analysing their online entertainment and shopping behaviours, helping ecommerce sellers better understand these segments and engage them with the right ‘shoppertainment’ content each segment needs. The six personae are ‘heavy online shoppers’, ‘short video watchers’, ‘social champions’, ‘online dimmers’, ‘online always’, and ‘binge watchers.’

Among these six types, the “online always” segment, which refers to people who are heavily engaged in all kinds of online activities, has the most potential to become ‘shoppertainment’ advocates. Representing 19% of surveyed consumers, they are most likely to make unplanned purchases when the product is presented by influencers they like. They are also the most willing to spend more time on livestreaming commerce, with an average of 23 minutes.

“When exploring the European opportunity, it is important to look into distinctions of each country to cater the right messages for different consumers in different countries,” says Chang.

Key findings suggest that consumers in UK need trustworthy and entertaining content that is mobile-friendly, while French consumers prefer content that is succinct and endorsed by influencers. Shoppers in Spain look for the best deal and practical information when they turn to ‘shoppertainment’, and consumers in Poland value interactions with hosts and other customers the most.

“With the emerging trend of ’shoppertainment’ in European e-commerce, businesses will be able to stay ahead of the game if the content presented to consumers is relevant, trustworthy and entertaining,” adds Xiaofeng Wang, Senior Analyst at Forrester. “Findings of this study are valuable for retailers and sellers in Europe to better understand the evolving needs of customers and design livestreaming commerce strategies that drive business growth accordingly.” 

Doubling down on ‘shoppertainment’ in Europe

With Alibaba Group as the global innovator in ‘shoppertainment’ with the experience of the Taobao platform as a foundation, AliExpress witnessed the momentum from the rapid uptake of this trend in China. Seeing the significant benefits of ‘shoppertainment’ for both sellers and shoppers alike, AliExpress is committed to innovation in European e-commerce by doubling down its ‘shoppertainment’ effort in Europe. 

In France, AliExpress officially kicked off the Livestreaming Program in May 2020 and has since launched more than 3,000 live shows and worked with more than 100 local livestreamers. Local brands such as Qlive, Cibox have already embraced the trend.

Additionally, AliExpress is recruiting retail store salespeople in France to train them into becoming livestreamers, which will create more job opportunities and support the local economy post COVID-19.

In Spain, AliExpress has established partnerships with 8 agencies and worked with 180 local influencers, bringing more exposure to sellers and brands while creating an innovative and entertaining way to shop.

Globally, AliExpress has so far provided more than 44,000 live shows in thirteen different languages since July 2019, when it launched the new version of its in-app live streaming feature, drawing an audience of nearly 92 million from all over the world, with more than 84 million interactions (comments and likes).

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