Tech adoption and associated consumer trends in China are a few years ahead of the west. One such trend took a massive boost through the COVID-19 crisis in China and has become a major craze.
It is the live-stream e-commerce which Chinese believe is the closest experience to shopping offline in a retail store.
Many Chinese e-commerce apps, live-streaming apps and super-apps have embraced this trend including TaoBao, WeChat and Douyin (TikTok China) and the shopping experience really is friction-less.
Here are some of the reasons why I think this trend will grow, not just in China, but in the west too.
Firstly, live-stream e-comm is great for product discovery. Amazon in its current form is great for search and buy shopping experience but awful for discovering new products. On the other hand, Instagram is a good platform for discovering new products, but doesn’t have a seamless shopping experience in its present form. Although, with the announcement of “shops”, there’s an obvious plan to change that.
Secondly, all the Chinese apps are offering in-app checkout. So you can tap on the products shown in the live-stream and conduct your purchase right within the app while the live-stream stays uninterrupted. Instagram plans to bring in-app checkout with “shops”.
Thirdly, the Chinese apps have in-app frictionless payment options e.g AliPay and WeChat Pay. Facebook/Instagram do not yet posses the capability to offer in-app payments, but plan to offer with Libra.
Fourthly, in-app streaming & shopping experience enhances consumer trust as the products are shown live instead of the photoshopped 3D photos and professional videos.
Fifthly, apps also offer AR try-ons. So you can try the products e.g glasses, shirts etc to get a feel of how they would look on you.
And lastly, the apps have built-in game mechanics with features to induce scarcity, and get credits/cashback for sharing the stream with your friends etc.
It is unbelievable how far in the future China is with e-commerce in comparison with the western counterparts. But I’m sure that the west will catch up to these trends.
Instagram and TikTok are best positioned in the west to capture this in the future. If you’re an influencer on one of these platforms, the great days will come as the west catches up with the Chinese frenzy.