Online shops in China are embracing live commerce, a blend between e-commerce and live-streaming. Influencers and sales actors speak to online shoppers in real time and answer all questions about their products. Each session can go on for hours and are especially long during special shopping extravaganza like Singles Day on 11 November.

Live-streaming narrows the distance between sellers and users. Typical e-commerce platforms, which only use photos and videos, do not allow for interaction between the shop and the users or for coupons to be issued in real time. These live commerce videos are also very popular with Chinese consumers and are seen as a form of entertainment.

Retail brands like L’Oreal and Olay have started to join the trend of live commerce. While they were initially skeptical of Chinese consumers being interested to shop this way, these brands now dedicate part of their marketing strategy to live-streaming. Even KFC has engaged influencers to live-stream products.

Read the full article on Channel News Asia: Size, colour and smell: Livestreaming rings up big sales in China


The landscape for shopping and consumerism continues to evolve given the progress in technology. Live commerce seeks to narrow the gap between shops and consumers, and provides a middle ground between brick and mortar shops versus pure e-commerce sites.

With traditional e-commerce, you might have photos, or videos at best. With the limited engagement, consumers may then receive products that are different from their expectations. Live commerce is proving to be very popular among consumers because it increases the sense of trust in the shops and viewers are able to scrutinise the products.

Culturally, it is notable that the Chinese consumers watch live commerce as a form of entertainment. While those from other countries also watch videos online or have access to e-commerce platforms, the Taobao live-streaming platform beats them all in terms of popularity.

Questions for further personal evaluation: 

  1. Have you shopped at live commerce sites? What is the attraction of viewing a live commerce live-streaming?
  2. How can retail companies like L’oreal leverage on the live commerce trend? Should they? Why or why not?

Useful vocabulary: 

  1. ‘convergence’: the act of moving towards union or uniformity
  2. ‘stuttering’ (economy): marked by involuntary disruption or blockages (meaning drawn from the disorder of vocal communication marked by blocking of speech)