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Livestream Shopping Is the New Frontier of E-commerce; Here's What We Know

Data from the Whatnot app shows that individuals watch these live shopping sessions for roughly 80 minutes every day.
Cover Image Source: Pinktag | wojiaoken | TikTok
Cover Image Source: Pinktag | wojiaoken | TikTok

Remember when your parents used to watch the shopping network? There was always this bubbly woman in a pretty dress who sold everything very quickly. We would see a phone number appear and the quantity of goods remaining decrease on the screen and for viewers buying items was the main goal. But today; enjoying live shopping is just as much fun as making purchases.

Over time, live shopping underwent a contemporary makeover. It became a shopping livestream. After Chinese influencers set the standard with new features, Instagram and TikTok followed suit. Plus, there are apps like WhatNot where you can shop and interact. Now, live shopping is a thing for Gen Z, happening right on their phones.

Image Source: wojiaoken | TikTok
Image Source:  wojiaoken| TikTok

However, live streamers are facing difficulties. There is intense competition, a large number of people doing the same job, and the economy isn't doing well. As the industry grows more difficult, live streamers are having to put in more hours, deal with less money, and feel exhausted. This is the dirt on livestream shopping and the reason why some people think it won't last.

What is Live stream Shopping?

Livestream purchasing refers to the practice of brands or influencers making sales through webcam live recordings. You may now converse with the person selling things live, making it something similar to the home shopping shows you've watched. These events take place on websites like Amazon and Alibaba's Taobao, or social media sites like Facebook, Instagram Live, and TikTok Shop. Data from the Whatnot app shows that, surprisingly, individuals watch these live shopping sessions for roughly 80 minutes every day. That's not that far from how much time people spend on Netflix.

Adam Whittaker, also known as the Yorkshire Collector, shared his experience with SCREENSHOT: “I noticed the huge success of Whatnot in the US, where they were selling sports trading cards with fast-paced shopping, social interaction, and cool products. I wanted to get in on it myself.” He explained how he got started: “I tried out a similar live streaming gig on another app for a bit, and when Whatnot launched in the UK, they reached out to me. It was a no-brainer to join in.”

China was the origin of the shopstreaming movement, with over half of all internet users having attempted livestreaming by the middle of 2023. Then, it soon made its way to the West, where new features for shopping appeared on Instagram and TikTok almost immediately. Currently, live streaming is popular among 70% of Londoners, and by 2026, analysts estimate it will account for 20% of all online sales worldwide.

@wojiaoken New way to sell products... Show say price throw repeat! #wojiaoken ♬ original sound - 我叫KEN - wojiaoken


Troubles with Live Shopping 

Livestream shopping became popular in China, but problems surfaced as the country's economy faltered. Consumers become more choosy about their purchased products, making it harder for smaller companies and streams to compete. Livestreaming became more taxing due to firms making their staff work harder amid declining sales.

Although the full effect hasn't yet been felt in the UK, difficulties are beginning to surface as more firms begin to provide livestream buying options. Former livestream vendor Ahmed Abdallah talked about his experience: "The hours were long and emotionally draining, especially during busy times like Christmas. It was tough to keep up the energy, especially when not many people were watching online." Abdallah added, "The workload was manageable, but it could feel repetitive. The most stressful times were when we put in long hours without seeing much payoff, knowing we'd have to do it all over again the next day."

Image Source: pinktag | TikTok
Image Source: Pinktag | TikTok

Ahmed Abdallah, a former livestream vendor, discussed his experience using SCREENSHOT. He talked about the emotional toll and long hours, particularly during the hectic holidays. Even while the burden was acceptable, Abdallah said that when the results didn't justify the effort, it became tedious and stressful.

A growing number of people are purchasing live-streamed content, but China is cautioning against oversaturation. The future of this trend is unknown, as pressure is already being felt by streamers.