Social networks are embracing live shopping

Live shopping could be a US$423 billion market in 2022 in China. ― AFP pic
Live shopping could be a US$423 billion market in 2022 in China. ― AFP pic

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SAN FRANCISCO, Dec 1 ― Instead of piling into the mall like all the other last-minute shoppers, how about doing your shopping on social media? Pinterest, Instagram, TikTok and now Twitter: the main platforms are all getting into e-commerce with a live element. It's a recent trend that has got a boost from the global health situation and could soon be worth hundreds of billions of dollars.

Will social networks become go-to shopping platforms? The number of online payments being made has increased with the pandemic, and small merchants are increasingly turning to social networks to continue their business. It's a trend that has not escaped notice from the various online social networks.

Shopping channels 2.0?

In the run-up to the holiday season ― and, in particular, Thanksgiving in the United States, YouTube had announced the “YouTube Holiday Stream and Shop,” a week of live shopping shows hosted by platform creators. The shows were in partnership with brands like Walmart, Samsung and Verizon. 

Instagram had already tried its hand at live shopping with its “10 Days of Live Shopping” event, organised in September 2021. This event provided an opportunity for certain stars to promote their brand like Selena Gomez with her makeup brand “Rare Beauty” and Olivia Parlermo with “Olivia Palermo Beauty.”

So has teleshopping become fashionable once more thanks to social networks? In May 2021, Facebook announced a weekly “Live Shopping” session to take place every Friday. The platform touted it as a way for brands to demonstrate their new products and directly answer consumers' questions, but above all to take advantage of the presence of internet users to boost sales. Because with the various stay-at-home mandates put in place during the pandemic, the use of social networks has significantly increased, as well as e-commerce. At the beginning of November, Pinterest unveiled the launch of “Pinterest TV,” a series of several live shopping episodes.

Meanwhile, in late 2020, TikTok had already organised a live shopping event day in association with Walmart, kickstarting platforms' interest in e-commerce.

Influencers as guarantee for brands

Being present where consumers spend most of their time is a goal for brands: “Discovery and inspiration can happen anywhere, and we want to make sure we are meeting our customers where they are,” said William White, chief marketing officer, Walmart. Recently, the American retailer collaborated with Twitter to offer its first live shopping event. For the occasion, the social network signed up singer Jason Derulo as host of an online “shoppable livestream” event.”

“Livestreaming on Twitter gives businesses the power to engage with their most influential fans,” Twitter outlined on its official blog. After a first round of tests with some brands, Twitter confirmed that other collaborations will be launched with “more merchants in the United States in the coming weeks.”

In a study unveiled in July 2021, 61 per cent of respondents said they liked a brand more when it participates in a trend on TikTok. Consumption habits are increasingly being influenced by... influencers. On YouTube, 89 per cent of internet users said they believe in the recommendations made by creators on the platform.

According to a study by McKinsey, live commerce could represent a US$423 billion (RM1.78 trillion) market in 2022 in China, where it all began. ― ETX Studio

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