When it comes to live commerce, I believe Asia is arguably leading the world when it comes to real-time video commerce. Thousands of internet users across the region spend more time online than the global average of six hours 54 minutes per day, with users from the Philippines topping the charts at almost 11 hours a day online. In Indonesia, more than 87 per cent of internet users surveyed by the Global Web Index (GWI) stated that they bought something online in the past month.

Meanwhile, the live commerce market in China alone is now worth more than US$60 billion a year. In fact, live stream shopping is so popular there that one single influencer, Viya, sold over US$4.5 billion worth of goods through her Taobao live stream channel in 2020, almost equivalent to what hypermarket chain Carrefour sold across all its stores in China in the same period.

With Asia accounting for more than half of today’s global internet user base, there are vast opportunities abound for sellers who have yet to leverage the power of live-stream shopping.

With great challenges come great opportunities

There is no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the adoption of live e-commerce. During the lockdowns imposed to curb the spread of COVID-19, many have turned to sell things through live video streaming, particularly on Facebook and Instagram. Lately, we have also seen a rise in brands developing their own live-streaming capabilities on their website and app to ensure they have visibility on the data and behaviour of consumers during the live stream.

But why are brands turning to live selling? Does it really help generate more sales? Is it more effective than simply putting up ads that include photos or videos of the products, descriptions, price and order details? Are there significant advantages that make it worthwhile to go online to showcase products and interact with customers on live video? Most importantly, is live streaming just a fad or is it here for the long haul?

Also Read: How Shopee uses AI, data to build a marketing strategy that suits changes in user behaviour

I believe that live commerce will swiftly become the future of online shopping and that it’s set to stay post-pandemic. There are many features that live-shopping streaming platforms can offer, including merchant visibility, meta-voicing and guided buying, each of which can contribute greatly to a more immersive and authentic experience and a higher purchase intention by the viewers.

The benefits of live selling

The key differentiator of live commerce from traditional e-commerce is that it allows brands to engage in more authentic interactions and build trust with their customers.

For those who don’t already shop online, a whopping 49 per cent cite a lack of trust in online retailers as the top reason. Seventeen per cent of e-commerce cart abandonment happens due to a lack of trust in the site, and yet another 17 per cent are due to unclear total costs — something a live shopping host can address within a live stream either by answering customer enquiries directly during the live session, or by pinning notices or comments and setting on-screen text within a live stream.

Live selling simulates the experience of going to a physical store where sales associates provide assistance to prospective buyers. They address customers’ concerns, introduce different varieties of the items being sold, and sometimes do product demonstrations. Furthermore, live streaming effectively helps sellers present product sizes in particular and other physical attributes that could be difficult to exhibit through product descriptions and images alone.

In addition, live selling creates a sense of urgency. Did you know that 18 per cent of abandoned carts happen because of a long checkout process, which can be alleviated by opting for custom live shopping solutions with in-stream checkout functions? Because of the real-time engagement during live shopping streams, buyers are compelled to make a purchase decision on the spot. Coupled with time-limited discounts and offers made available only during each live stream session, buyers are more likely to follow through with their purchases rather than putting off the decision to another day.

Also Read: The era of live commerce has finally arrived. Will retailers embrace it?

Live shopping has become more than just fun and entertainment

As someone who has founded a live-streaming platform, live-streaming has evolved rapidly over the years, from being seen as a portal for entertainment to growing into one that enables thought-out purchases. Such technology can allow viewers to make purchases through live streams using their devices such as laptops, tablets or mobile phones.

Live shopping solutions are swiftly becoming an important part of businesses’ sales and marketing strategies. It is my view that not only do they educate and excite, but they also provide a sense of connection with the wider world.

Live commerce enables real conversations effortlessly

Streamed commerce solutions are highly impactful in that they offer businesses the opportunity to open dialogue with customers and provide advice and inspiration, which in turn strengthens the customer relationship.

Businesses cannot underestimate the power of live streaming solutions. Through innovative services, anyone can start live streaming and engage in live chat without the hassles of complex configurations or the need for technical expertise. Advanced interactivity features are now accessible even to non-techie users. Live shopping engagement can happen through online video streams, real-time comments, shareable live links for social channels, customisable interface, audience monetization, analytics, and other features that allow anyone to harness the benefits of live streaming in promotions and sales.

The growing popularity of live selling

Live selling shows no signs of slowing down, in fact, in Southeast Asia, prominent e-commerce platforms have also embraced the live selling trend. Alibaba-affiliated Lazada features LazLive, a live selling tool that merchants can utilize for live commerce. It is designed to provide a “see now, buy now” experience, allowing sellers to promote their vouchers, highlight their bestsellers, interact with customers, and gain more followers. Another major Southeast Asian e-commerce platform, Shopee, also provides a live selling feature, similar to what Lazada offers.

Also Read: Upmesh scores US$3M seed financing to provide e-commerce functionality for live sellers on social media

A regional survey by iKala recently revealed live selling’s increasing popularity across Southeast Asia, something they attribute to the closure of malls and physical stores. I believe the transition to live shopping online is something that’s here to stay, as consumer behaviour advances steadily.

In India and other parts of Asia, live selling is also gaining traction. Many Indian entrepreneurs are already using it to engage customers as they sell their products online. Baskar Agneeswaran, CEO of Shopify app developer Vajro recently said she expects live selling to generate up to US$184 billion in revenues by 2027, which in my opinion could prove accurate.

Live shopping is a trend, not a fad or hype

It is a fact that brands across all industries are reaping the benefits of live selling, from fishmongers to luxury goods. In December 2021, Singaporean singer-actor Wang Lei accomplished a spectacular feat of generating over US$1 million in sales for Gucci through a two-hour live selling stream conducted in Paris. At its peak, 32,000 viewers tuned in during the live session, as Wang Lei engaged the audience with his flamboyance and humour.

Endowed with a plethora of choices, consumers these days are becoming more demanding and discerning with what they look for in an online shopping experience. Armed with good content and high-quality live video streams, retailers can tap on the growth in consumer interest towards “retailtainment” experiences.

Live streaming is no longer seen as a hype but a necessity for businesses. Many businesses are interweaving live streaming as part of their business strategy regardless of how the pandemic situation pans out. To future-proof their business, brands need to evolve along with where consumers are heading — online — while keeping the human touch with authentic and trustworthy interactions.

Small vendors are already using social media and other live streaming platforms to conduct live selling. E-commerce platforms like Amazon and Taobao, too, provide sellers with the ability to hold live selling sessions. On the other hand, more established brands are incorporating live video into their own digital platforms as a driver of sales and engagement. Those that do not have the in-house resources and expertise to do it can turn to end-to-end live streaming solutions, similar to what we would specialise in.

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