Today marks China’s 11th annual Singles Day event. It is a celebration not of a sad and lonely Bridget Jones status but rather an extravaganza of retail, as legions of mostly Chinese customers open their virtual wallets to splurge at the world’s biggest e-commerce shopping event.
Falling on November 11th this year, the double-11 event is expected to eclipse the $63 billion generated last year, with estimates for today’s blow-out put in the region of $125 billion. The Singles Day “shoppertainment” event is the brainchild of Alibaba’s Jack Ma who, through his Taobao and Tmall e-commerce platforms. anticipates the order rate to peak at around half a million transactions per second.
US celebrities from Taylor Swift to Magic Johnson have lent their star power to attract millions of Chinese consumers to the retail gala. This year livestreaming is expected to take center stage. Two thirds of Chinese customers have purchased products via live streaming in the past 12 months, according to an AlixPartners survey, while high income consumers say they expect to complete a greater proportion of their purchases through livestreaming this year.
Livestreaming shopping is nothing new. Television networks like QVC in the US date back to the mid 80’s. However, the changes in consumer behavior wrought by the pandemic mean that more of us than ever are now using our laptops and smart phones for purchases, and the Chinese market are enthusiastic adopters of the medium, excited by the huge discounts and “instant interaction” afforded to customers while livestreaming.
The US livestreaming shopping market currently valued at $5 billion, looks relatively paltry when compared to the growth of the industry in China where the Single Day event alone will be in excess of $100 billion.
“Social Media is popular everywhere, but in China they seem to have figured out how to monetize that much quicker.” says Max Bissell of Homecare’s Asia division. “Shopping is a sport in China, and the Chinese consumer is embracing technology faster than their western counterparts. Everything is changing in retail and livestreaming will be the future”
Could livestreaming provide the much-needed boost that many western retail business need at the moment?