It’s no surprise that the U.S. is far behind China when it comes to ecommerce and social media, and brand livestreaming is no exception to this. According to research from Deloitte, livestreaming in China was expected to have accounted for $4.4 billion in sales in 2018.
Now more than ever, this new marketing tool is on the rise. Below we explain how brand livestreaming in China works, why it resonates in the Chinese market, and how Western brands and retailers can best use this new marketing channel as part of their strategy.
Livestreaming is the airing of a real-time show to a live audience, typically through a social media platform via a smartphone. You’re probably familiar with the term livestreaming in relation to influencers, but we’re talking about going 1 step further. Instead of an influencer livestreaming to their audience, your brand itself can live stream to your entire audience. Brands use the broadcasting channel as an effective ecommerce tool to engage with their audiences through popular Chinese platforms such as Taobao Live and Weibo Live.
Marketers employ celebrities and key opinion leaders (KOLs) to showcase products, describe their functionalities and demonstrate usage of products via livestream from the brand itself. The audience can ask questions and take part in conversation, which helps to create an interactive, highly engaged brand experience while maintaining authenticity due to the unedited format of the shows.
A brand’s livestream can have all the appeal and trustworthiness of an influencers stream, but adds in actual brand experts to make sure questions are answered correctly and expectations are set accordingly.
The number of unique visitors of live streaming in China reached 396 million in 2018 and is expected to have grown since. Although fashion and beauty remain the most popular livestreaming categories in China, there are no rules as to which categories can join in on the trend. From beauty tips, to fashion hauls, to sharing recipes, no category is exempt. Niche categories such as health and wellness have also grown in popularity.
In fact, Chinese consumers desire trust and product provenance when shopping for goods. So no matter your product offering, selling your brand story and educating customers on where your products originated from, their features, and their benefits is a growing movement that has meant livestreaming resonates particularly well in the Chinese market.
With countless companies now offering a livestreaming service, many ecommerce sites are transforming into social platforms. This method of marketing was already proving popular with certain categories, but the COVID-19 lockdown in China saw an explosion in livestreaming that’s here to stay.
Alibaba says that its Taobao Live platform saw a massive 719% month-on-month surge in first-time livestreaming merchants in February, as the lockdown took hold. In late 2019, 350,000 hours a day of Taobao Live programs were being watched by Chinese consumers. This rose sharply during lockdown, and Alibaba says that the number has not fallen back to pre-COVID levels even though physical stores have reopened.
As an authorized Tmall Trade Partner, we’ve successfully employed livestreaming for several of the brands we trade—both to feature our brands within multi-brand shows, and shows that are dedicated solely to our products and are presented by our own team. We have achieved a 27% daily sales uplift with regular 3-hour livestreaming sessions for one of our brand partners; and are now streaming shows for more of our brands.
Our Tmall Trading Guide explains more about the importance of driving Tmall traffic from off-platform channels to build customer awareness and new customer acquisition of your brand.
Unlike in the West where livestreaming platforms have typically been reserved for gaming and entertainment purposes, Chinese consumers see livestreaming as an essential part of their shopping journey and as an opportunity to discover new products.
Digital teleshopping isn’t an entirely new phenomenon in American ecommerce, but new technologies have enabled brands to connect with customers in a more exciting and engaging way. In February 2019, Amazon rolled out its “Amazon Live” shows in the US where brands can host a live audience and present products for sale on the marketplace with direct links to product listings displayed on screen. Digital marketplaces like Walmart.com have also rolled out their own livestreaming services, showing the growth of the opportunity.
More recently the beauty industry has been moving fast to incorporate shoppable livestreaming, with L'Oreal Group and Estee Lauder Companies hosting their first live events during the COVID-19 pandemic. Praising livestreaming as a way to connect content and commerce, their brands have seen a massive uptick in sales. Walmart also hosted a larrge, shoppable livestream with Jason Derulo just before Cyber Monday to help drive holiday sales.
Although Western brands and retailers have been slower to adopt and seize the potential of livestreaming marketing, with many praising influencer marketing on social channels as a strategy to drive revenue, we can expect to see more brands and retailers catching onto this sizzling opportunity in the near future.
China continues to be a lucrative land of opportunity for brands who have invested to develop a strong brand awareness and localized proposition. Livestreaming in China has become embedded in digital marketing models, particularly now when consumers are more engaged online. As global digitalization accelerates, U.S. brands should seek to create new and innovative offline shopping experiences online in order to provide inspiration to purchase.
To talk to us about how we could help to profitably grow your Tmall sales through livestreaming—or by optimizing your marketplace strategy—reach out to us today.
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Entering the ecommerce landscape is a huge undertaking for any brand—it usually requires a large investment in resources and expertise to really be successful. Any brand can quickly get in over their heads trying to navigate the nuances of SEO, fulfillment and logistics, distribution control, listing optimization, and meeting the numerous other requirements and administrative tasks to show up well on marketplaces.
Unfortunately, because it’s so easy for third party, gray market, and unauthorized sellers to obtain and sell products online, many brands find themselves pressured to execute an ecommerce plan without the right resources to succeed on marketplaces and their other channels.
So, for brands looking to enter the ecommerce space or improve their current and future performance, it makes sense to partner with an ecommerce consultant.
Pattern’s global presence and proven success with hundreds of brands has allowed us to develop highly effective ecommerce consulting services. We can guide your brand to navigate issues both large and small in marketplaces worldwide. To maximize your ecommerce efforts, you’ll need to understand what an ecommerce consultant does and how to select one who drives the right value for your brand and products.
An ecommerce consultant is a specialist in the ecommerce space who can give you personalized guidance on how to market your products and grow their presence on digital marketplaces.
An ecommerce consultant should be able to analyze your brand, audience, category, opportunity, and current roadblocks and help you understand how to utilize your resources (or what resources are missing) to be most effective in capturing your opportunities in the ecommerce space.
Not sure how to evaluate a consultant? Here are 4 key attributes to look for as you make your choice.
At Pattern, we prioritize brand obsession for a reason—we know that a brand-centered mindset makes a crucial difference in the outcomes and results our partners achieve. So in our experience, when you begin your search for an ecommerce consultant, it’s important to look for a partner who is specialized in ecommerce, invested in the product, and passionate about helping brands build and improve their strategies. Typically, this means finding someone that consults exclusively for ecommerce marketplaces, rather than choosing a consultant who offers many different services.
It’s also important to avoid choosing a consulting partner who can’t deliver the right experience for your brand. The best indication of whether your potential consultant can do that is to review their history, data, and results with other brands. Ask if they’ve helped others in your selling category, if they’ve solved specific issues your brand is facing, and why they feel you are a good fit. The key is to leave the conversation feeling confident that you understand your consultants’ capabilities and whether or not they match up with your needs.
It’s best to pick a consultant who knows how to guide a brand onto and through multiple marketplaces worldwide. You’ll want to take a look at your long-term strategy and think about the regions and platforms you’re currently on and where you might want to take your brand in the future. If your consultant is truly great at what they do, they’ll be able to help you perform well enough with your current product roadmap that it’ll be a no-brainer to expand your presence at the right time.
The most effective partnership with an ecommerce consultant will be able to give you both recommendations and point you to solutions for making those changes in your planning, processes, and execution. Your time and money is valuable, so you want to make sure that you’re spending it as efficiently as possible as you follow your consultant’s advice. So, before you commit to an ecommerce consultant, ask about the resources and concrete solutions they typically recommend to the brands they work with.
Finding an ecommerce consultant that checks the boxes can be a difficult task. At Pattern, our entire focus and drive centers around giving brands the tools and resources they need to succeed on domestic and international ecommerce marketplaces.
With over 100 global ecommerce consultants across 10 global offices, we have the right tools to partner with brands across the world to achieve better ecommerce success. We give specialized advice, then make sure our partners have all the adequate SEO, social media, CRM, Amazon multi-channel fulfillment services, and ecommerce outsourcing services they need.
Interested in ecommerce consulting services? Set up a call here to learn what Pattern can do for your brand on global marketplaces.
If you’re interested in expanding your brand internationally, you’re probably familiar with Tmall. Tmall is Asia-Pacific’s (APAC) largest marketplace, and indisputably the biggest ecommerce powerhouse in the world. It represents a huge opportunity for many brands, but entering the space is also a big challenge to take on.
At Pattern, we recommend brands looking to enter international markets should first focus on dialing in their domestic presence. Once you’re satisfied that your brand is well-represented and optimized locally, you’re ready to think about tackling new regions, like APAC, and launching on marketplaces like Tmall. Our top advice for entering Tmall is to understand and strategize around its three most important metrics: service, delivery, and content.
Service, delivery, and content ratings are the three elements that make up Tmall’s Detailed Seller Rating (DSR) score. Each component is scored on a scale of 1-5 that is displayed publicly on your brand’s Tmall flagship store page. This is meant to help consumers decide whether or not to purchase your products.
DSR scores are important because they’re highly influential in driving conversions—customers see DSRs as a way to quickly understand if a brand is trustworthy and worth buying from. They also matter quite a bit to Tmall itself—they monitor these scores and will take action to close flagship stores with low scores.
Let’s go over each element of the DSR score and some steps you’ll need to take to achieve high ratings.
Service is a huge ecommerce component in APAC marketplaces. In most other regions, product listings are static, and consumers use content and reviews to make a decision about what to purchase. On Tmall, consumers want to interact with your brand and test its validity before buying—each transaction takes at least one human interaction to convert.
So, to get a great service rating, you’ll need to have a large, established customer service team dedicated to Tmall sales that can offer real, human touchpoints and very fast response times. To get an idea of the speed your agents should be capable of producing, in our Tmall benchmarking exercise, 92.5% of brands’ customer service agents replied to queries via live chat within 30 seconds, 5% replied within one minute and the remaining 2.5% of brands took longer than a minute. So, look for a Trade Partner (TP) that has enough resources to compete with those numbers, support your sales, and maintain a good DSR score.
Another thing you’ll really want to focus on is a high-quality delivery experience for consumers. As in other regions around the world, Tmall consumers have high expectations for their delivery experience. In our Chinese consumer polling report that targeted consumers buying from Tmall Global, we found that 6% expected same-day delivery, 15% expected next-day delivery, and 46% expected 2-5 day delivery.They want to receive their products fast and they want the products to be undamaged and pristine upon arrival.
So, to achieve a high score for your delivery capabilities, we highly recommend partnering with a TP or ecommerce accelerator like Pattern (which serves as a TP) who has the ability to facilitate your distribution. Make sure your TP has the right infrastructure in place to support high-quality logistics experiences for all of your consumers—they should have an established, well-oiled delivery process in place and the capability to fluidly add you to their current fulfillment system.
As in every digital marketplace, content is a huge component of the decision-making process for consumers on Tmall—they can’t touch your product with their hands or see it in person before buying, so it’s important they’re empowered to make a good decision on whether or not to purchase based on the videos, images, and copy.
The goal is to make all of the content and relevant information on your flagship site easily-accessible—consumers should be able to visit your page and make a decision about whether or not to buy without navigating to a new site/page and taking their conversions with them. Images with text and extensive product details are a great way to do this, as well as making sure your service team can speak to all aspects of your product with any consumers (via text or chat).
As the world’s foremost brand partner for ecommerce acceleration, Pattern truly understands the significance of international expansion. With regional offices around the world, Pattern knows how to successfully launch and grow brands on Tmall and other marketplaces, with the data, insights, and marketplace intelligence to build the metrics that matter.
It’s important to have a fantastic brand presence, a knowledgeable guide, and a clear go-forward strategy for your best chance at success. With our in-country resources, expert teams, and extensive experience in growing brands around the globe, Pattern can help you get there.
Set up a call to get your international expansion strategy in motion.