Chinese live streaming commerce conquers the West, but in a non-social version

What does a well-known (or lesser-known) character who appears during the program and shows and talks about the new fashionable armchair while chatting with the viewers remind you of? 80s teleshopping. Here they have not retired, they have transformed. They are live streaming commerce or shoppertainment. Born in China, it is conquering the American and European markets. This is how it is sold online today. According to Cisco data, 82% of web traffic in 2024 will be video content. And given that online purchases have record numbers (in 2023 in Italy alone 33 million customers, +13% turnover, 54.2 billion euros according to the B2C eCommerce Observatory of the Polytechnic University of Milan) this sector too it “adapts” to new formats.

Online shopping is therefore increasingly live streaming commerce. It is a form of e-commerce that combines online purchasing with entertainment, with the experience that only a live video streaming can add. Customers can see products differently from a traditional e-commerce site, they can ask questions live and buy in live stream. Interaction is the key word. The presenters, who can be company employees, influencers or product experts, present the products and how they work and respond to customers live on video. It can be broadcast from points of sale, so as to build consumer loyalty and “get them used to” purchasing in person. There are companies that create events, as he did for example Leroy Merlin, proposingcooking show to promote products on sale.

Live streaming shopping was born in China in 2016 and has conquered the country. Suffice it to say that during the pandemic even farmers sold their products using this method. And in 2023, 25% of online sales occurred via live streaming. In Europe and the United States everything came later and now it's boom time. The Live Streaming School was also created in Italy, the first school for the training of Live Shopping professionals, the “stremers”, organized by Marlene Live. Digital marketing agencies have landed in the United States which, with the support of Chinese experts, train American streamers, complete with a Chinese manual, obviously translated into English.

The focus is clear: combining physical and online. You win for this. Proposing experiences helps to sell. It is somewhat reminiscent of the principle of tourism platforms (Airbnb and Booking) which combine the classic overnight stay with the possible experiences that can be had during the stay. In live streaming shopping you participate, you feel like you are there. In fact, a recent study by Deloitte highlights that 69% of customers, online or in person, prefer brands that personalise. Many companies in Europe are going in this direction: entertainment and personalization through interactivity in their live broadcasts. SQ&A sessions, quizelements of gamification, survey And contest. There are famous examples such as the live commerce streaming of Sephora, Carrefour, but also the Archaeological Museum of Naples and the Loreto Pharmacy of the Farmacie Italiane group.

Around the world, people who do live shopping are between 25 and 36 years old according to a study by McKinsey & Company made on China, USA, Latin America And Europe. In the Old Continent and in the Asian country, customers are younger: from 18 to 34 years old. Fashion and beauty are the categories where there are more purchases in the wake of live streaming commerce. Next are the electronic devices. The economic impact on companies? A twenty minute live shopping session done last September in directed from the catwalks of New York Fashion Week led PatBo (Brazilian women's fashion brand) to a 300% increase in revenues on the e-commerce channel where orders grew by 125%. The live market in the United States brought 32 billion dollars in sales in 2023 (Coresight Research), 647 billion dollars in China.

Where does all this happen? On social media or on brand sites or on platforms specialized in live streaming. A cost for companies? “A simple and immediate live platform that allows, through the use of one or more smartphones at the same time, to build your own story in very high quality without the costs of traditional production”, says Massimiliano Molese, creator and founder of Purparlè, a platform of live streaming interaction.

In fact, unlike China, where live streaming commerce takes place mainly on social media, in the West brands' e-commerce platforms are preferred. While Chinese customers follow platforms like Taobao Live (used by 61% of live commerce users) and Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok (88%), Americans and Europeans rely more on websites. This was certainly influenced by Meta's stop in recent months and years from live shopping on Facebook and Instagram. In the United States and Europe, therefore, social and live shopping seem to have taken two different paths.