Livestream Shopping

Livestream shopping, or simply live shopping, is a marketing strategy wherein a host, usually an influencer or a celebrity, promotes a product through a live video. It is similar to home shopping TV shows where a person demonstrates how to use a product, but all engagement between the host and the audience is, as the name implies, completely live. 


What is Livestream Shopping?

The difference between livestream shopping and traditional online shopping is that the former is unedited, with the audience interacting with the host in real time. Unlike traditional online shopping, potential customers who tune in can ask questions or comment, and the host or hosts can address them as they model or review a product. These shows are usually streamed on e-commerce apps, social media platforms, and websites such as Alibaba’s Taobao, Facebook, and recently, Amazon.

Livestream shopping first became popular in China, which has the highest number of online shoppers in the world. Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs) or influencers go on a live show through an app and describe, model, and test out various products for their audiences. People who watch these live shows enjoy the entertainment brought by engaging hosts, and get to have any concerns they might have regarding the product addressed right there and then. 

During these livestreams, gamified content such as promotions and giveaways are also usually offered to the viewers, but only within a certain period of time. Livestream shopping becomes especially effective this way because the sense of urgency is emphasized due to scarcity or limited availability. What’s more, the larger the audience watching, the higher the fear of being left out of a potentially good deal. 

Elements of Livestream Shopping

Here are some key elements of a good livestream shopping video:

  • Platform

The potential for livestream shopping is rising, and more e-commerce platforms are starting to support this strategy. Catering to a market composed mainly of Generation Z and Millennials, live shopping shows are commonly hosted both on social media platforms such as Facebook Live and Instagram as well as e-commerce sites like Alibaba’s Taobao and Amazon. 

The Taobao app is one of China’s e-commerce platforms with the highest number of users, while e-commerce giant Amazon already launched its livestreaming platform called Amazon Live mainly for US residents. Nowadays, developers are starting to integrate e-commerce with social media to eliminate the need for two separate apps.

  • Host

Anyone can host a livestream shopping show but not everyone can be successful at doing so. KOLs, influencers, and celebrities can be especially effective in selling products they livestream due to the level of trust their audience places in them, as well as their relatability. 

Huang Wei, also known as Viya, is one of the most successful Chinese livestream shopping hosts with videos that reach over 37 million viewers. She makes it a point to maintain the high level of trust her audience gives her by ensuring that all products she features are tested by her and her large team of 200. She also dresses in casual clothing when she’s on air to be able to relate better to an audience that’s mostly watching from home. 

  • Products

Fashion dominates the market for livestream shopping shows, but other items such as food and house furniture are popular options too. Before a livestream, some hosts choose to preview an item to build excitement around it before showcasing it at the end of a livestream. People are also starting to look towards the more expensive items such as houses and cars, while China’s Livestream Queen, Viya, even sold a rocket launch service for $5.6 million on Taobao.

  • Video Content

While the main goal is to be able to sell the products featured on a show, the best livestream shopping shows utilize raffles, giveaways, and promotional prices to build hype and urgency among their audience. These livestream shopping shows usually last 25 to 30 minutes long, with longer shows usually performing better.

Livestream shopping is rapidly changing the way brands can engage with customers through established hosts, with more companies exploring the platform. While it still is relatively new to the US, e-commerce companies are looking towards livestreaming as a means to boost sales in the years to come. 

About the Author
With over 15 years in content marketing, Werner founded Influencer Marketing Hub in 2016. He successfully grew the platform to attract 5 million monthly visitors, making it a key site for brand marketers globally. His efforts led to the company's acquisition in 2020. Additionally, Werner's expertise has been recognized by major marketing and tech publications, including Forbes, TechCrunch, BBC and Wired.