Livestream Ecommerce: 1980s retail performance marketing reinvented for the 21st century


If you’re looking to increase retail sales, read on to learn about the latest trends in livestream ecommerce.

In the 1980s, the Home Shopping Network and later QVC introduced a new concept to retail marketing: Direct sales of products via TV. Viewers would tune in and watch a show about a product or a collection of products and phone in to buy the product(s), and have them shipped to their homes.

Fast forward forty years and go halfway around the world, and livestream shopping is exploding in China. In the 21st century version, influencers talk about products or a collection of products, and viewers go online to order products shipped to their homes.

In China, livestream ecommerce grew to $62.3 billion in 2019, when it accounted for 3% of retail ecommerce sales, to the $300 billion projected in 2021, accounting for 11.7% of retail ecommerce sales. By 2024, it is expected to reach $623.3 billion and account for 19.4% of retail ecommerce sales.

The US usually leads in retail, but with livestream ecommerce, the country is playing catch up. According to data from Coresight Research, livestream shopping was expected to reach $11 billion in 2021 and $25 billion in 2023.

Why has livestream ecommerce taken off?

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According to tech journalist, analyst, author, and speaker John Koetsier, the appeal of livestream shopping is pretty simple. It’s entertainment for people who are bored and like to shop. And based on the sales numbers listed above, a lot of people are interested in it.

Koetsier continues by saying that the attraction isn’t necessarily shopping. He believes “it’s the entertainment, the fun, the interest and the engagement that an interesting and passionate influencer brings to the space.” And if the viewer is interested, the purchase is one click away.

Leading verticals

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The leading verticals in livestream ecommerce include fashion, beauty, fitness, home décor, home improvement, and consumer tech devices. That said, these are still early days. We could see a relevant influencer livestreaming while test driving a new car, encouraging viewers to click to schedule a test drive at their local dealer, and secure special financing terms when purchasing the car.

With the growth in video and influencer marketing, livestream shopping is a performance marketing marriage between the two. And for retailers at the beginning of COVID, it was an opportunity to engage with their customers while they were staying home and not visiting brick-and-mortar stores.

Make it an experience

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For example, leading retailer Bloomingdale’s hosted livestream events via Zoom, including one with the creative director of Jimmy Choo. The event highlighted footwear trends for the coming season as well as a first look at the coming collection from Jimmy Choo. Participants who signed up in advance received a complimentary cocktail and macarons via mail, to be enjoyed at the event. The first 50 shoppers who bought a pair of Jimmy Choo shoes received a personalized fashion sketch with their purchase. Viewers who watched until the end were invited to participate in a special gift basket and gift card giveaway.

Most livestream participants don’t receive macarons and a cocktail, but all are focused on making the experience special.

Because shoppers can ask questions and see an item in different colors and sizes, returns are 50% lower for items bought in a livestream, according to Coresight Research. This is a big cost-saving advantage for retailers.

Leading social platforms

As expected, the social platforms, through their mobile marketing solutions, are competing with one another. According to data from Statista, the most popular platforms for livestream ecommerce are YouTube (30.2%), Facebook Live (29.2%), Instagram Live (28.9%), Amazon Live (20.7%), and TikTok (19.8%).

The aforementioned data didn’t include Zoom or Twitch. As this is an emerging retail marketing technology, the percentages could shift significantly in a few years. Furthermore, Twitter has started testing a livestream shopping feature. Also, Pinterest recently launched Pinterest TV, “a series of live, original and shoppable episodes featuring creators right on Pinterest.”

TikTok has partnered with Walmart to host livestream ecommerce events where viewers browse Walmart fashion featured by TikTok creators on TikTok.


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As the livestream offering from the largest ecommerce company in the US and beyond, Amazon Live, should not be underestimated. Amazon Live offers QVC-style interactive videos from influencers and brands.

Amazon has even rolled out an app on Apple’s App Store called Amazon Live Creator. This mobile marketing solution lets creators and brands easily shoot and produce their own livestream to reach customers on Amazon. Performance in the app is counted towards unlocking rewards and benefits. Shoppers can ‘follow’ a creator on Amazon Live. And as creators stream more frequently, they climb Amazon Live’s internal rankings. This entitles them to rewards including better placements, such as near the top of the Amazon Live landing page. At Amazon, achieving A-list status means reaching a follower count of 2000 and selling either 100 product units or $5000 worth of goods via livestreams within 30 days.

Beyond Amazon’s website and app, Twitch is also owned by the company. It’s an excellent destination for selling products to gamers as well as other users under 35.

Are you interested in the potential of livestreaming ecommerce? Looking for a new tactic for retail user acquisition? If so, reach out to Creative Clicks to schedule a call with our retail marketing experts.

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