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GROWTH POST LOCKDOWN Social and livestreams start to make an impact

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There are two new trends in mobile retail that currently stand out at the start of 2021 which are set to build on foundations firmly laid last year: social commerce and live shopping.

The big social networks have been experimenting with adding ‘buy buttons’ to their operations for years. It makes sense given how much time is spent in these apps, and the rise of influencers. In 2020, shoppable buttons began to gain traction.

Pinterest is at the forefront of the trend. Since introducing buyable ’pins’ in 2015, it has steadily built out its merchant support. Data from App Annie reveals that Pinterest grew its global downloads by 50% over 12 months in 2020. Meanwhile Instagram, also on a similar social commerce push, saw downloads rise by 20%.

With consumers flocking for inspiration, Pinterest reported 76% growth in Q4 2020 revenue — an indication of growing demand for experiences beyond social networking — including inspiration, how tos and shopping. 

Buy it now: livestream commerce spreads China

The other major trend is Live shopping from video streams. Live shopping had a similarly impressive 2020 and has become, in the words of one analyst, “like QVC for mobile”.

Brands and influencers pitch products in a live broadcast, and viewers click to buy in real time. Live shopping, like so many other mobile phenomena, began in China.

Indeed, App Annie’s data shows that downloads of China’s top app in the space, TaoBao Live, doubled its annual downloads from 3.9 million to 7.87 million in 2020.

But the category is now taking off elsewhere. Familiar brands such as AmazonYouTube and Facebook have all launched live shopping offerings. However, they have competition from venture capital-backed startups such as NTWRK and Grip, whose apps were downloaded 690,000 times in the US and 895,000 times in South Korea respectively in 2020.

While outside of China, the industry is still in its early stages, we believe social commerce and live shopping will continue to show impressive growth — representing a $2 trillion market globally by 2024.

“In 2020, mobile shopping boomed,” explains Lexi Sydow, Senior Market Insights Manager, App Annie. “Time spent in shopping apps grew 45% year over year outside of Chiny, an early mover in m-commerce. We saw markets that have traditionally lagged in the mobile shopping space, like the US, grow an impressive 35% as mobile bridged the physical and digital divide with consumers seeking alternatives to in-person shopping amidst the backdrop of COVID-19. Grocery shopping was a key driver with apps like Walmart, Target and Instacart seeing 90%, 90% and 240% growth year over year in time spent in the US. We also saw digital-first retailers like SHEIN leverage social features and influencer techniques to drive engagement and adoption, ranking 4th by downloads globally among all shopping apps. At the end of the day, mobile is critical to reaching the next generation of consumers and can be the linchpin in bridging a brick and mortar and digital strategy to optimize competitive advantages of physical stores, including fulfilment and delivery.” 

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