Will shoppertainment livestreams continue to rule retail in 2021?

Will shoppertainment livestreams continue to rule retail in 2021? Source: AFP

Will ‘shoppertainment’ continue to rule retail in 2021?

  • China has become a global trailblazer in the integration of shopping and entertainment, otherwise known as ‘shoppertainment’ and it’ll only get better this year.
  • The convergence of live streaming and e-commerce will continue to prevail this year.

Last year, the retail landscape was faced with immense upheaval, leaving it with no choice but to adapt rapidly to new consumer behaviors. Countless new trends were discovered as online sites continue to facilitate new types of interaction between brands and shoppers. 

Take the shoppertainment phenomenon for instance: as Amazon’s Twitch creates shoppable experiences in the west, in China, Alibaba is seeing great success turning e-commerce into entertainment on a grand scale. In fact, in China, live streaming has become the primary medium for key opinion leaders (KOLs) to engage their audience in China, as fans can ask questions about the products, talk to the hosts and even send virtual gifts as a token of appreciation.

For context, e-commerce kicked into high gear as shelter-in-place policies force many people to shift their shopping habits online. New data emerging from the Covid-19 Commerce Insight tracker shows that pure-play e-commerce revenue growth in Europe is up 40-80% by April 2020 compared to the preceding year. Within the same period, online orders are up 80% in North America.

Shoppertainment will continue to rule retail

The goal of “shoppertainment,” is to draw shoppers either to the store or to purchase online, by offering interactive and engaging broadcasts where products are demo’d in front of a live streaming audience. Broadcasting live on streaming platforms to showcase products and to interact with potential customers works well to build up trust and encourage retention.

It has been reported that Chinese consumers find the live stream shopping experience more social and interactive, and market growth numbers reflect their engagement. Taobao Live, the dominant live commerce platform in China reported that its gross merchandise volume has grown by 150% per year over the past three years.   

The success of this innovative approach is such that retailers aren’t ready to leave Shoppertainment in the past – it may represent a ‘new normal’ in the retail marketer’s playbook for 2020 and beyond. The promise of shoppertainment’s ongoing success is such that China’s biggest e-commerce firms are betting big on live streaming. 

Considering how Livestream commerce was a US$60 billion industry in 2019, according to Matt Moorut, the principal analyst at research firm Gartner, there’s definitely still room to grow since only US$1 billion of that was spent in the US while the “vast majority” was spent in China.

This year, expect to see live streaming expand beyond China in a more meaningful way since platforms like Instagram and Facebook have rapidly innovated last year and are actually adding more options.

Undoubtedly the market is fragmented among players like Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and Amazon, however, these platforms have shown a vested interest in cracking the nut as live streaming helps brands connect with consumers.