Retail companies have embraced the power of video to build brand trust and 2019 was the year when livestreaming in ecommerce started to take off.

Now that the big Chinese retailers JD.com and Kaola (a unit of Alibaba) are jumping into the mix, where is the industry headed? Will customers become overwhelmed? We look at the past, present, and future of livestreaming and how it could transform the way global consumers shop online in 2020.

How ecommerce livestreaming started 

Livestreaming in ecommerce first emerged in 2014 when Chinese fashion ecommerce platform Mogujie began to experiment with it, with Alibaba’s Taobao, the world’s biggest ecommerce website, following suit soon after that. 

Both Mogujie and Taobao sold low- to mid-range apparel to young female shoppers, with many of them between the ages of 18 and 23. But given the limited purchasing power of these target consumers, the average value of each transaction was low, so boosting conversion rates became a priority.

With livestreaming, hosts tried on different types of clothes and users could interact with them through live chat windows. Viewers could ask about how the fabric looked and felt in real-life scenarios, and even ask hosts to try on items with different sets of accessories.

In this sense, livestreaming played three essential roles: 1. To provide entertainment, 2. To help customers better understand their products, and 3. To activate sales.

Customers viewing products in real time had a higher propensity to make a purchase. After all, most customers are looking for instant gratification. The development of smartphones and mobile payment options like WeChat Pay and Alipay made this happen.

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