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Livestream shopping sold $63bn of goods in China last year – and is coming to the UK soon

Amazon Live: poised for the UK?

Livestream shopping grew by 150% and was watched by 400 million shoppers in China last year. And with Amazon Live already streaming in the USA, livestream commerce is sure to sweep the UK very soon.

Livestream ecommerce in China accounted for around $63 billion last year, according to financial services expert Everbright. Live shopping shows generated $28 billion on Alibaba’s Taobao Live platform alone. Young Chinese shoppers have embraced this as a return to the social side of shopping, without having to leave home.

Stars such as Lipstick Brother, otherwise known as Li Jiaqi, regularly attract several million viewers and sell hundreds of thousands of dollars-worth of products during a single programme. Influencers like Lipstick Brother have ensured Taobao Live’s sales volumes are growing 150% a year.

Kim Kardashian sold 150,000 bottles of her KKW perfume in just a few minutes when it was featured on top live streamer Viya’s show last year on Tmall, the main rival to Taobao Live. An incredible 13 million viewers watched the event.

As a result of numbers like this, the US is also beginning to tune into this latest online shopping phenomenon with the launch of Amazon Live – a QVC-style platform where viewers can see products demonstrated and leave comments before buying with a single click.

According to David Jinks MILT, Head of Consumer Research at ParcelHero, “Amazon frequently trials new services in the UK shortly after (or even, sometimes, before) they first appear in the US. For example, Amazon Logistics, its own delivery arm, and Amazon Fresh groceries were both launched early in the UK. It will not be long before Amazon Live is pioneered here as well.”

However,” he warns, “Amazon Live in the US is still far from the slick ‘entertainmerce’ – entertainment and e-commerce fusion – that is Chinese live shopping, with US presenters yet to attain celebrity status. In China, these micro-influencers are genuine stars in their particular markets and engage very closely with their audience. During flash sales, presenters call out their followers by name and say, “You need to take advantage of this deal now.”

Jinks believes there is no doubt that Generation Z will fall in love with the idea here in the UK. It’s a perfect mix of marketing and entertainment. In 2019, there was a 79% increase in shoppers discovering new products on social media compared with 2017. Instagram, Facebook, Google and YouTube inspired many thousands of purchases after shoppers viewed posts from bloggers, celebrities and friends.

He says: “Britain’s young shoppers are just waiting for an Amazon Live or a similar livestream shopping platform to land in the UK. While it’s frustrating that there’s still no checkout on Instagram here in Britain, Facebook Pay is being rolled out. In addition, Facebook says its Shops feature, which is soon to appear on WhatsApp and the company’s other messaging apps, will fully integrate with livestreams.”

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