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The e-commerce realm is continuously evolving. Today, we are completely taken aback by the ingenuity of online sellers through live commerce. Some call it live shopping, live selling, or live streaming, but the fundamentals stay the same — selling products digitally, allowing buyers to interact with the brands, sellers, and products in real time.

what is live commerce?

Live commerce refers to the act, practice, or process of selling products or services online through live video. There are at least three factors for live commerce to occur: 1) online selling/buying, 2) live video, and 3) consumer participation. The idea is to allow consumers to watch and buy simultaneously.

To make live commerce more successful, there is also a need to integrate shopping tools such as a shopping cart, live chat, and payment gateway. The combination of these factors contributes to the overall shopping experience. We are indeed in the midst of the latest wave of the e-commerce revolution.

a. origin of live commerce

Traditional live shopping was prominent in the 1990s as made famous by home shopping networks. These free-to-air television networks primarily targeted households to buy mass-produced items — from knife sets to vacuum cleaners. Hotline numbers were open while the demonstration was ongoing.

Furthermore, the modern take on live shopping was considered to have started in China. Alibaba, which was founded by Jack Ma, was a technology company specializing in online retail operations. Thus, in 2016, it successfully implemented the first live shopping event via streaming. However, it was in 2020 that Alibaba was able to rake in $7.5 billion in just 30 minutes of going live. In the same year, a survey of Chinese consumers revealed that one-third of the population bought an item through a live stream.

If live commerce experience in China is an indication, there is nowhere for live commerce but to move forward.

b. statistics on live commerce

  • Brands that embrace live commerce report up to a 30% increase in conversion rates

  • Conversion rates of live commerce are 10x higher than that of traditional e-commerce

  • Sales through live commerce are expected to reach 10% to 20% of all e-commerce sales by 2026

  • Approximately 265 million individuals use live commerce (30% of whom are Chinese)

  • The majority of the viewers of live shopping are younger audiences, comprising up to 20% of the entire audience share

  • Gen Xers and Gen Zs spend more on live shopping than other demographic groups

  • About 44% of Gen Zs are converted through a live stream of an influencer

  • The top categories include apparel/fashion (36%), beauty products (7%), food (7%), consumer electronics (5%), and home decor/furnishing (4%) (McKinsey & Company)

  • Taobao currently has the largest market share at 35%

  • About 25% of Chinese adult consumers would like to discover products online through live selling that features a brand representative or influencer



a. marketplaces

Amazon, Alibaba, and eBay are examples of marketplaces that empower consumers to transact with stores and merchants in the comfort of their homes. In addition, some marketplaces host their own live selling. Other marketplaces such as TikTok, META, and Shopee allow brands to host their own live shopping, providing them with the tools they need to conduct the live.

b. auctions

Bidders come together through a tool, app, or platform to conduct live selling (or bidding). Unlike marketplaces that sell common goods — from apparel to household items, live auctions offer unique collectible products like books, comics, toys, and sports cards.

c. streaming

Influencers who are either promoting their own products or that of their sponsors are common nowadays. They do live streams, relying on their personal brand and, of course, their extent of influence. In some countries, influencers are known as experts or KOL (key opinion leaders).

d. tutorials

Tutorials have become their own category, although the beauty and cosmetics industry is the primary user of this live commerce strategy. While tutorials are the crux of live videos, skin routines, product reviews, and makeup trends are some other live video content.

e. events

Live events overlap with other types of live commerce. However, the unique feature of live events is, of course, the event. These include Black Friday lives and Singles’ Day in China, which happens every November 11 (the original 11.11). Both kickstart the Christmas shopping season in countries where these events are celebrated or observed.


  • How live commerce creates value for the brand?​


    There are many ways by which live commerce creates value, not just for the brand but also for marketplaces and retailers, big or small. 

    • Brand awareness

      • Live commerce puts a face behind the brand and its products and services. This is more so if that face is equally recognizable such as a celebrity or influencer. The more they see these people using the products, the more they will be recognized by the people.

    • Brand differentiation

      • ​Some brands have yet to embrace live commerce. However, those brands that started live streaming years ago (even before or during the pandemic) are reaping the practical and financial benefits. Moreover, live shopping gives brands a distinctive appeal, positioning themselves firmly among consumers’ recall and attracting new customers.

    • Customer engagement

      • Live commerce utilizes videos, which are considered to bring better engagement. In fact, users are twice more likely to share videos than other content formats. This is more so compared with static advertisements. In addition, live videos are immersive, compelling viewers to finish the live.

    • Sales acceleration

      • ​Live commerce generates sales faster than traditional sales channels, including e-commerce websites. It is because as the products are shown to the audience, they can instantly ask for and receive feedback. Some participants specifically join live shopping for limited-time discounts and other promotional offers. Such a tactic creates a sense of urgency while tapping into the consumers’ fear of missing out (FOMO). As such, it is not surprising that brands doing live are reporting up to a 30% increase in conversion rates.

  • How to integrate live commerce into your strategy?


    Implementing live commerce is challenging. This is why experts recommend matching the strategy with the brand or company’s understanding and acceptance level of this newest e-commerce tool.

    • Product

      • Not all products are salable through live commerce, especially if the brand intends to sell products to boost brand loyalty. Brands need to consider the product lifecycle before implementing this strategy. For example, a live video can prompt trial, generate feedback before a hard launch on Instagram, or boost sales of best-selling items on the catalog. Whether a seasonal campaign or exclusive deals-only live, the goal is to position the products as good value for money — products worth splurging.

    • Audience

      • ​For brands intending to do live, it pays to know the target audience ∼ more technically, the target demographic ∼ for live videos. They need to look at this matter in more granular terms. Brands must at least have an idea of their potential customers so they may create lives that are relevant to the right segments. Additionally, they should know what matters to these consumer segments and how to attract and keep them engaged during the live. Once you know your audience, you will also understand what and who influences them the most.

    • Format

      • Historically, live shopping with immense interactions includes a KOL, which is usually an influencer. A key opinion consumer (KOC), such as a long-time fan or product reviewer, is an alternative option if a KOL or an expert is unavailable. Some sales-triggering tactics include tutorials, BTS (behind the scenes), and interviews. Interactive elements must be present, and some great examples are exclusive voucher codes, giveaways, and games and quizzes with you-will-not-find-anywhere prizes.

    • Enablers

      • ​When doing live selling or events, technology is critical. Facebook and Instagram, collectively known as META, are great ways to start. However, brands still need to invest in equipment. Some creative agencies take care of these things. Of course, brands must also have a website or e-commerce platform that makes sales and chats possible. Another enabler is the dashboard that provides data and insights on whether the live is successful. There are tracking tools that can be used straight from the dashboard. Some technologies allow the brands to send the link of a product that a consumer views live and offer a coupon code to trigger the purchase. Again, a brand or company must have an omnichannel mindset to tap into every sales opportunity.

    • Platforms

      • ​Choices of platforms generally vary. For example, brands may choose social media and applications.

        • Social media
          To make live shopping experiences possible,
          brands may use the tools available on social media platforms.

        • Dedicated live shopping apps
          There are also dedicated off-the-shelf platforms like Livescale, a live shopping application specifically designed for brands and merchants. These applications even allow viewers to buy using the same link.

live commerce trends to watch out for this 2023

Live commerce is just starting, but by the looks of it, it is here to stay. Nonetheless, here are some trends that will take shape this 2023.

a. virtual reality (VR) shopping

At present, the word metaverse, which is technically a virtual environment, has entered the vernacular. However, such a well-hyped buzzword makes VR shopping a more practical experience. With this, brands have found a new way to stay relevant. For instance, IKEA launched its room design app made possible by augmented reality (AR). Now, shoppers can design their rooms long before they head to the website or an actual store to buy what they have pre-decorated their space with.

b. omnichannel live streaming

Omnichannel marketing allows customers to buy on the platform or channel they are most comfortable using. They may start with your Facebook live and end up buying from your Instagram or TikTok store. Wherever they wish to complete the transaction, the goal is to make the shopping experience as seamless as it should be. Live commerce is an omnichannel strategy in itself that brands should take advantage of.

c. one-to-one live demo/shopping

Live shopping does not necessarily need to be a one-to-many endeavor. Live shopping can be prearranged with a person or group of stylists, makeup artists, or personal shoppers. One-to-one live videos are perfect for high-ticket and luxury item purchases. This may not necessarily lead to instant buys, but one-to-one live commerce builds value for the target customers or clients.

d. live collaborations

Live commerce integrates seamlessly with other marketing methods, such as influencer marketing. Including influencers in the video is a great way to drive interactions and, thus, conversions. The influencers themselves may host the entire live event. Since most viewers are younger (millennials and Generation Zs), it makes sense to hire influencers with whom the audience would relate.

e. live Question and Answer (Q&A)

In some instances, the brand sponsors a live Q&A featuring their endorsers, which may also include influencers and other Internet celebrities. This strategy could be a pre-recorded or one-to-many live video featuring the influencer or a group of influencers at one time.

f. active live chat

Live shopping or streaming cannot do without an active live chat. This is the third component of live commerce, wherein the audience can ask questions and receive real-time answers informing them whether to make a purchase. Fundamentally, live chats promote conversational marketing in actuality, where they can receive links to the FAQs page or be connected to other customers who have bought the same items previously.

future of live commerce

Live commerce will continuously thrive. At least three components would contribute to the ongoing success of live commerce.

a. innovative formats

AR and VR are key enablers that allow brands to create a shopping experience that delights their target consumers. These technologies are exceedingly immersive, giving users the opportunity to see a product from every angle before deciding to buy. These technologies eventually allow a one-to-one conversation that further elevates the shopping experience.

b. micro and nano influencers

Influencers are endowed with hosting capabilities and skills. However, tapping big-shot influencers to do live events requires a hefty budget. This is where the role of micro and nano influencers becomes critical, especially for small businesses that want to harness the power of live commerce.

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