Although chatbots, AI and one-hour delivery have brought a degree of personalisation to online shopping, the social aspect of in-person shopping is still missing. To fill in this gap, online retailers are turning to live-streamed e-commerce, or live commerce. This works much like late-night TV shopping channels, combining live streaming with online sales.

Chinese eCommerce platform Taobao was one of the first to develop live commerce. At the time, the site primarily sold low-to-mid-range clothing marketed to female shoppers aged between 18 and 23. Because the average value of each transaction was low, boosting conversion rates became a priority. 

Taobao’s live commerce featured hosts who would try on different clothes and interact with users through live chats. Viewers could ask questions about the fit and material of the clothes or ask hosts to try on different accessories. Customers use mobile payment and one-click options to purchase the clothes during the Livestream.

Since its inception, live commerce has shown extraordinary success on three levels – in providing the entertainment and “real-life” connection often missing during online shopping; in building loyalty, by helping customers to learn more about products — and activating sales — by creating a relationship between host and user.


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