Livestream shopping is on fire.
Already a massive trend in China, it is expected to account for up to 20 percent of the region’s total e-commerce by 2022, according to HSBC and Qianhai Securities, while Coresight Research estimates it will hit $ 300 billion this year alone.
Now it looks like live shopping is popping up in the United States. Coresight predicts that U.S. consumers will send livable streams, sky-high, from $ 6 billion last year up to $ 11 billion this year and as much as $ 25 billion by 2023.
Matt Moorut, chief analyst at Gartner, highlighted the difference between the two markets: “There are some very significant differences between the way it works in China and the way it works in the US at the moment – a few different stumbling blocks – of which it one is that the platforms that are able to facilitate this in the West just do not have the same degree of maturity as some of those in China, ”he told Headline 4 Ever.
Moorut cited Alibaba’s Tmall as a good example of robust functionality, ease of use and hassle-free interactivity. Of course, it is not alone. Other e-commerce juggernauts, including Douyin, Weibo, Taobao and WeChat, have individually and collectively cultivated a mobile-based shopping culture that smoothly consumes this form of e-commerce.
As for Western audiences, “it will probably take some time before consumers get used to being able to use this as a viable shopping and discovery channel as well,” Moorut said.
There is no shortage of companies trying to make that shift, and it can all come down to delivering the right technology at the right time. And that time is undoubtedly now.
Livestream shopping – which mixes entertainment, product demos and purchases in a live online broadcast – captured a restless, home-bound public as COVID-19 hopped physical retail. That it existed before the health crisis means less than the fact that it accelerated during the pandemic-driven boom in e-commerce.
Gartner analysis of Google’s search trends from January to June 2020 shows that general interest in livestreams jumped in March across Instagram, YouTube and especially Facebook as lockdowns increased.
Over the last few years, livestreaming translation into shopping has triggered a flood of newcomers wanting to change the retail game, and they seem to be arriving just in time for the boom. This opportunity has venture capitalists looking for the hottest new start-ups, hoping to find a unicorn in the crowd.
Live shopping has become a priority within the world’s largest technology companies as well as venture capitalists seeking new start-ups in hopes of finding a unicorn in the crowd.
The river of start-ups taking advantage of livestream shopping features has become legion, though a few stand out because of the excitement they have created among investors, their point of view or approach to technology development.
Verishop, a two-year e-commerce site for curated fashion, beauty and home goods, dived into livestream shopping less than a month ago with an ambitious launch. The company debuted with more than 115 experts, influencers and brands offering more than 125 livestreams that run 12 hours a day and cover more than 100,000 products.
For co-founder and CEO Imran Khan, live streaming was a natural development of a marketplace built to help independent brands and retailers discover. A former Snapchat director, he understood the power of video to trade, and Verishop had already worked on video that can be purchased – a related but slightly different suggestion that can be pre-recorded in a one-way experience as opposed to a live one. broadcast with a real-time, interactive chat – as well as group video shopping.
Live streaming was a logical way to build on this development and give customers different ways to shop. “We created a complete end-to-end shopping experience with live streaming as a form of discovery,” Khan explained to Headline 4 Ever. “And we have the full spectrum of discovery, from search to filter to feed-based, content-based discovery to live.”
Khan’s chops and his vision have attracted lots of investors with a $ 30 million fundraising round in 2019, valuing the company at more than $ 100 million.
While live shopping is only part of Verishop, it is a more fundamental part of other start-ups.
Founded in 2019, this livestream e-commerce site for collectibles and fan items secured a $ 20 million Series A in March, and months later, another $ 50 million drummed up in a Series B round led by Andreessen Horowitz.
The company does not reveal hard numbers, but a spokeswoman described its traction among thousands of sellers and tens of thousands of buyers. Some merchants earn more than six figures, she said, and “a majority of buyers return to the app.”
Connie Chan, general partner at Andreessen Horowitz, explained the appeal in a note: “We see an incredibly high level of engagement with buyers and sellers on the platform,” she wrote. “People will tune in to hour-long livestreams just to see what their favorite sellers have on offer and engage with other fans even when they’re not buying anything.”
But they are buying according to Whatnot, and the company aims to expand the available categories, from Funko Pop characters, comics and Magic: The Gathering cards to later this year, it plans to branch out to vintage fashion.
The entertainment experience weaves across several start-ups, and it also weaves great on Popshop Live. The resale market offers everything from fan collectibles – what it is primarily known for – to clothing, jewelry and accessories.
Founder and CEO Danielle “Dan Dan” Li described Popshop as a “crossroads between entertainment, social and commerce”, built from the ground up with every area in mind, complete with its own storefront management system and social and real-time engagement features.
“You can see that many livestreaming e-commerce platforms are much more transaction-driven,” she explained to Headline 4 Ever. “But in Popshop you can see why people come here, not only to buy, but also to be inspired, entertained or connect with other people on the platform.” The company raised $ 3 million in a seed round last year with plans to deepen its staff, develop new features, more live content and bring in more salespeople.
Streaming technology providers like Powerfront Live and Buywith aim to give brands a way to add livestreams to their sites, event sites or product pages.
Buywith’s live shopping technology works on “any site without code integration”, noted Adi Ronen, CEO and co-founder. The five-year-old company rose in April by teaming up with Zappo’s and Boohoo in a live-only invited invitation. After recently going live, the company attracted new retail partners, including Forever 21.
The team vet influences by analyzing their social media profiles and metrics, perhaps for understandable reasons: An early livestream with celebrity stylist Maeve Reilly showed a 33 percent increase in average order volume, a 70 percent increase in sales conversion and a 61 percent engagement rate during the session.
The company created “a self-service platform” that can deliver shopping hosts and influencers or let brands use their own so they can increase dozens, even hundreds of live sessions each month.
“Our vision, after we launched the market, is to be the Twitch of e-commerce,” Ronen explained, referring to the live streaming platform for players. “So if you go into a Twitch to see people play online, you’ll be able to come to Buywith to see people shop online. And then end users could browse and discover live sessions. ”
A Buywith livestream can also be sent in several places – whether it is in the marketplace, on the brand’s website or another web page.
Ntwrk started in 2018 with the idea of building on the concept of product drops, the type that has sneaker fans waiting all night to blow up their payslips. The company’s spin on it brings livestreams that can be purchased to exclusive products, with a list of A-list personalities often added to the mix.
The business foundation for starting the company was to “imagine and reinvent what QVC and HSN were – you know, a kind of linear, old school place for Gen Z and Millennials,” explained Moksha Fitzgibbons, Ntwrk president.
But during a pandemic, the company has come to represent more than that. Fitzgibbons argues that being entertained and accessing rare products adds a level of excitement that “really fills a void for them and more,” he said. Still, he brushes off the idea that hosts must be celebrities to work with the streams.
While the company loves that sneakers hyped by e.g. Dwyane Wade, Kevin Love and Dennis Rodman tend to bring hardcore sneaker fans to the platform, the Ntwrk director claims, being only part of the picture. “There are artists as big as Billie Eilish at one end who want to go live and sell prints, clothes, whatever is appropriate at the time. It’s also brands like Nike, Puma, Balmain, etc. For smaller creators like Mr. Flower Fantastic, Matt Senna, Christina Martinez, ”he said.
“Brands and creators of all shapes and sizes have the opportunity to get on, go live, express themselves creatively and really engage and build a community on the platform. And then commercialize that moment through the product they make available, ”he added.
The approach seems to work and catches attention from all fronts. Last year, the company attracted TikTok, which collaborated with Ntwrk and artist and designer Joshua Vides on an exclusive limited edition clothing collection and the venture funding amount that to date gave them $ 10 million including investment from rap artist Drake. Meanwhile, its mobile app is on track to get 5 million downloads by the end of the year.
This list of start-ups just scratches the surface.
Bamboo, which just launched multimedia dreaming on social media earlier this month, is a newly developed winner of the LVMH Innovation Award and just launched in the Shopify app store. Meanwhile, other technology providers like Powerfront Live continue to market brands, while players like Glamhive styling platform and novice platform Galaxy fashion resale site get their livestreams on.
A notable absence may be the social marketplace Poshmark. The 10-year-old company may not be considered a start-up company, but its lack of available live streaming options is surprising.
However, it may not be long before the technology-driven company catches the streaming wave. After all, the platform is well-suited for it with a framework already in place with its “Posh Parties.” The themed shopping events are live for specific periods of time and include items by brand, product type and other categories along with curated “host selections”.
But Posh Party’s essence is more like a collection of “live listings” than livestreams, explained CEO and founder Manish Chandra, but then teased, “not that we are not getting there.”
If or when it does, it will have to jockeye to find a spot in a busy arena that will probably already have crowned some winners while sending others streaming out the door.