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The eCommerce Live Streaming Trend

Live Streaming has been around for quite some time. In fact, it has been over 20 years since the first live stream went live. Since then, with the birth of social media and the wealth of live streaming technology has made live streaming more and more popular over the years.

eCommerce brands around the world seem to be taking on live streaming as a new trend to help them drive more conversions and build brand awareness. Could this be the next big trend for eCommerce brands around the world?

Here’s everything you need to know about the eCommerce Live Streaming Trend:

The History of Live Streaming

We’re all used to live TV. In fact, some of the best shows have grown in popularity because they’re live. The unpredictability of watching knowing that anything could happen entices viewers around the world to many different shows.

In 1993, Xerox PARC was hosting a small show in Palo Alto when engineers who were in another room decided to test their new technology to broadcast on the internet. The band called Severe Tire Damage, made up of computer scientists and engineers from Xerox PARC, DEC Systems, and Apple, were playing on one of the building’s numerous patios when engineers in another room decided to try out their new technology.

In 1995, a company named RealNetworks was founded, who went on to develop RealPlayer, one of the first media players that were capable of live streaming.

On September 5, 1995, the Seattle Mariners played the New York Yankees. Thanks to RealPlayer, this was the first professional sporting event live-streamed on the internet. Sadly, only the audio could be captured, and the broadcast only reached a few hundred people.

In 2008 YouTube began live streaming, from there the technology grew more. In 2011, YouTube officially introduced live streaming to its website. While this enabled any YouTube user to watch live streams, only certain content creators were allowed to live stream.

The Rise in Popularity

Since 2011, new platforms joined the live streaming trend and attracted a wealth of visitors. Twitch.tv was launched, focused on live streams for gamers. Viewers flocked to the platform in ridiculous numbers, in fact, by October 2013, Twitch had 45 million viewers per month.

2013 also saw the rollout of YouTube’s live streaming capabilities, introducing that channels with at least 1,000 subscribers would now be able to stream.

From 2015, more platforms started to launch such as Periscope for Twitter and 2016 saw the introduction of live streams to Facebook and Instagram.

But now we’re seeing a new trend in the eCommerce world…

China’s eCommerce Live Streaming Trend

The South China Morning Post recently published its third annual China Internet Report: a high-level overview of the key technology and internet trends in China. Live Streaming is popular all over the world, for gaming, sports, entertainment, and even sleep streams. But in China, the ‘live commerce’ trend is spiking in popularity, allowing viewers to buy products and watch their favourite influencers.

The China Internet Report 2020 is split into three different phases of China’s live-streaming evolution. Phase 1, taking place from 2012-2017 saw live streaming primarily used for gaming, sports and teen culture. Phase 2, running from 2017 to 2019 saw the introduction of live commerce, the use of live streaming for shopping.

Phase 3, starting in 2019 has expanded on the live commerce trend and is now used for a wide range of eCommerce activities. The China Internet Report also looks at how live streaming has been used in different industries, such as real estate, automotive, travel and international luxury goods, showing that even higher ticket items can be sold through live streaming.

Big Brands Adopt Live Streaming for eCommerce

Whilst live commerce is spiking in popularity in China, only a few brands in other countries have started to experiment with the concept.

Amazon started to experiment with a similar live streaming formula, launching Amazon Live in 2019, allowing users to buy products from Amazon sellers via influencer live streams. One of its recent influencer partnerships saw the founder of Honest Beauty brand, Jessica Alba, participate in a live-stream for the brand.

One of the biggest opportunities for merchants is that Amazon Live allows users to go back and watch previous live-streams.

COVID-19 Kicks off eCommerce Live Streaming Trend

You only have to go on Instagram to see that live streams are growing massively in popularity. The COVID-19 lockdown has resulted in more brands and influencers getting creative with live streaming.

Brands have also been partnering with third-party companies that offer live-streaming capabilities that integrate with brand websites.

What Live Commerce Means for merchants

The great thing about live-streaming is that brands are able to provide content and entertainment for their customers, giving them the opportunity to learn about products that they may be interested in.

The interaction between the influencer or personality running the livestream also give viewers a sense of connectivity with the brand, where they can ask questions about products, how to apply or use them and a sense of community with other customers viewing as well.

With the recent launch of Facebook Shops, we could see more integration with live streaming and viewers being able to shop as they watch natively.

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