Appearing first in 2013 in China, live shopping has seen unprecedented growth since 2017, around 280% per year until 2020, according to a McKinsey report. It was worth more than $300 billion in 2021 versus half that in 2020 and is expected to reach $423 billion this year, with 900 dedicated platforms and more than 500 million followers. Louis Vuitton was the first luxury house to test this formula during the pandemic on the Chinese platform Xiaohongshu in March 2020.
Live shopping, also called live stream shopping, was initiated by the platform Alibaba, the Chinese e-commerce giant. The company has organized “Singles’ Day,” a 24-hour event focused on e-commerce promotions and broadcast live on national television, its website, and its application. Moreover, the result exceeded expectations. The volume of goods exceeded $14 billion, compared to $5.14 billion the same day two years earlier. The balances will only increase in the following years, mainly since this day dedicated to singles will gradually spread over several days – like “Black Friday” and “Cyber Monday.” It will reach $84.5 billion in merchandise volume by 2021.
Following this success, Alibaba then launched Taobao Live in 2016, a live-streaming platform linked to Taobao, Alibaba’s platform dedicated to sales, and the tool quickly became a success. It adopted live-streaming, with the codes of gaming and sports, to e-commerce.
Between 2019 and 2020, the number of daily active users on Taobao Live doubled, and the number of live streamers using the tool grew by 661%. Among them are various merchants ranging from French luxury brands to street vendors or local fruit and vegetable merchants via a simple smartphone.
The Taobao app is now one of the most downloaded apps in China. Taobao Live’s various features can now be found in other tools such as TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, or Snapchat. All platforms combined, Chinese live shopping would have generated nearly $300 billion in 2021, double the amount reached in 2020