TikTok and Amazon Bet on China’s Ecommerce Model. It’s a Dud

The pandemic has sent the livestream sales industry into overdrive. The Chinese government’s strict “zero Covid” policy is hitting brick-and-mortar retail hard. Stuck at home, vendors and business owners began selling online, followed by celebrities, athletes and even government officials. Asset management firm CINDA Securities estimates that the live streaming market was worth 2.84 trillion yuan ($42.3 billion) by the end of 2022.

Live streaming wasn’t just something ecommerce companies did — social media companies saw it as a way to monetize their platforms. These included Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok, which partnered with Taobao in March 2018 to test a shopping cart feature for celebrity accounts with more than 1 million followers. By December, the feature had been rolled out to all authenticated accounts with more than 8,000 followers.

After TikTok found success in Western countries, the company tried to export the live streaming sales model as well. The company launched the TikTok Shop in the UK in August 2021, allowing retailers, brands and developers to display and sell products directly on TikTok.

Jiang was among the first influencers invited by TikTok to test the TikTok Shop feature. She was able to find several brands interested in the UK market. She invited her friends to be influencers while she took care of the administrative part. They’ve been live streaming continuously for a month, broadcasting about three hours a day.

The results were not encouraging. One of the products she was selling was sportswear on behalf of a Chinese brand that wanted to appeal to young women in their 20s to 30s, “but a lot of the audience our session attracted was 50-60 year old males who wanted to see influencers try out tight gym clothes,” she says. “I don’t think they figured out the algorithm to get the right demographic into your streaming.”

TikTok didn’t respond to a request for comment.

In July 2022 the financial times reported that TikTok has abandoned its plans to expand the TikTok Shop to Europe and the US. Four months later, however, the company began testing its shopping feature in the US, offering brands an integrated payment system that allows customers to buy products without leaving the platform. In July 2022, YouTube announced it would expand its live shopping partnership with e-commerce platform Shopify.

“For years, everyone watched as the live selling business in China absolutely exploded,” said Michelle Goad, operating partner at investment firm TCG. “I think platforms felt the feature was sufficiently risk-free by watching some of these startups steadily grow to finally throw their hats in the ring.”

Meta also experimented with live shopping on Facebook and Instagram, but has since shut down live stream e-commerce capabilities on both services.

Amazon launched its Amazon Live platform in 2019. In 2021 and 2022, the company hosted live streaming events for its Prime Day sales events, featuring guest appearances from celebrities including comedian Kevin Hart and Australian model Miranda Kerr. The company is happy with the growth of the platform.

“I believe video shopping is the future of retail. It’s early days for us, but we’re inspired by the excitement we’ve seen from creators, brands and customers,” said Wayne Purboo, vice president of Amazon Shoppable Video, in an emailed statement. Purbook said that Prime Day streams in 2022 drew more than 100 million views, with the top stream peaking at 57,000 concurrent viewers.

https://www.wired.com/story/tiktok-amazon-china-livestream-ecommerce/ TikTok and Amazon Bet on China’s Ecommerce Model. It’s a Dud

Zack Zwiezen

Zack Zwiezen is a USTimesPost U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Zack Zwiezen joined USTimesPost in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing zackzwiezen@ustimespost.com.

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