21 April 2021

TikTok, TikTok: Why 2021 is the Year of Live Commerce

The pandemic accelerated a shift to e-commerce by five years, so live commerce is having a moment. Is your brand ready?
After the kind of year the retail industry just endured, who knows what’s around the corner? Well, Walmart in the US does. The retail giant recently gave everyone a glimpse of what’s next: live commerce, or shoppable livestreams.
Walmart recently hosted a shopping event in which trendy TikTok creators such as Michael Le showcased their favourite Walmart fashion finds on Walmart’s TikTok profile. Even better, shoppers could buy those exact products via mobile checkout.
Although Walmart and TikTok did not disclose sales figures, the event was noteworthy because it represents how live commerce is taking hold.
Consider some of these eye-popping facts:
  • In China, live commerce is a $125 billion fast-growing market. On Singles Day in China – the world’s largest online retail event – as many as half of retailers rely on live commerce to rack up billions of dollars in sales. During Singles Day 2020, more than 327,000 viewers watched as Zhao Daxi, a popular livestreamer, tried on winter coats and discussed where to find them. Cartier hosted a live streamed jewellery show, which according to Alibaba, attracted 770,000 viewers in just two hours.
  • Other retailers and influencers are also embracing live commerce. Recently, Kim Kardashian sold 15,000 bottles of her KKW fragrance within 15 minutes during a livestream.
  • In 2019, our Canadian team launched “Cadillac Live,” a one-part personal shopper, one-part interactive digital showroom for luxury buyers. Agents equipped with live-streaming mobile Steadicams and Bluetooth headsets give shoppers live one-on-one video tours with multiple dynamic views and modification options for the vehicles. Ntwrk, a mobile app that uses live shows to sell collectibles such as limited-edition sneakers, recently experienced a sales spike of 400 percent.
  • Meanwhile, tech giants Amazon and Facebook have either launched or expanded their own live commerce platforms to make it easy for brands to participate – such as Amazon Live, Facebook Live Shopping, and Instagram Live Shopping. 


No wonder Walmart wants in. But why is live commerce catching on suddenly?
A couple of reasons stand out:
  • First, the obvious: online commerce as a whole is skyrocketing as a result of the pandemic, as people spend more time at home. The IBM recently reported, the pandemic accelerated a shift to e-commerce by five years. 
  • Live commerce taps into a human need to buy from real people just like we usually do in stores. For years, that desire to connect with other people has fuelled the success of popular home shopping channels on television, such as Home Shopping Network and QVC, where hosts showcase products for sale live. These live shopping experiences give people both convenience and the human touch.
  • We’re getting more and more comfortable with platforms such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams which basically act as de facto live streaming experiences to manage our lives during a time of social distancing.
  • Live commerce often involves influencers, our modern-day digital celebrities. This is especially the case in China, where key opinion leaders such as Viya Huang Wei can move products like nobody’s business. Hanging out with influencers is also a natural pastime of the surging Gen Z population. According to research firm Coresight, nearly half of Gen Z purchase decisions were based on social influencers’ recommendations, compared with 26 percent of the general population. The Gen Z factor alone may attract brands like Walmart, which is eager to court Gen Z.
For those reasons, live commerce is having a moment. And 2021 is barely under way.
So, What Brands Should Do?
Here’s where Isobar enters the picture. We can help businesses develop and execute a live commerce experience that builds brand love. We know that brands need to:
  • Do your homework if you work with an influencer. A superstar influencer may or may not be the right match for your brand. You may find it more cost effective to work with micro influencers who have strong followings among different geographic regions, niche industries, and apps.
  • Live commerce requires creative expertise and event planning that capitalises on the distinct attributes of digital, such as building awareness for the experience with social media and rolling it out glitch-free.
  • The “commerce” part of live commerce requires a lot of heavy lifting behind the scenes to ensure that the checkout process works seamlessly.
To learn more about how to create a memorable experience with live commerce and many other digital experiences, contact Alex Hamilton.

Credit: Asher Wren, VP, Growth & Alliances