Where did it all start? China has been way ahead of us when it comes to live video shopping. With a tech-savvy market of around 1 billion internet users, China has led the world in digital consumer markets for years. Consequently, live streaming e-commerce is a popular way to promote and sell goods through influencer streams. The concept of livestreaming e-commerce first began in China in 2016 with social retail giant Taobao. Taobao developed a fresh idea that completely changed e-commerce: mixing the social component of livestreaming video with an e-commerce store that allowed viewers to tune in and make purchases in real time.

Taobao livestreaming enabled merchants to feature a variety of products and make them available to purchase in a matter of moments. This new idea of mixing live video and e-commerce helped usher in a new era of online shopping. In 2020, Taobao sold $7.5 billion worth of merchandise in just the first 30 minutes of their presale for Singles’ Day — which is an unofficial Chinese holiday and the world’s largest online shopping event. Through quarter two of 2021, Taobao and their sister company, Tmall, have approximately 828 million annual active users. 

Much of Taobao’s livestreaming e-commerce success can also be attributed to the streamlined nature of the app, which makes the shopping experience convenient for users. Shoppers are able to choose from over 2 billion product listings from the storefront of their choice, easily make purchases, and track their orders all in the same place. This level of convenience and user-friendly live shopping experience is something that big brands like Facebook and Amazon have taken note of. 



To understand the dimension of Chinese Live Shopping, here are some of the records they managed to achieve:

  1. In November 2020, Alibaba’s live streaming platform Taobao Live broke records by generating over 498 billion yuan ($75 billion) in sales during its annual Singles’ Day shopping event.
  2. Viya Huang, one of China’s top live-streamers, set a new record in December 2020 by selling $49 million worth of products in a single day.
  3. During a live stream in June 2020, Chinese influencer Austin Li sold 100 Mini Cooper cars in just five minutes, generating over 110 million yuan ($15.5 million) in sales.
  4. In May 2020, Chinese e-commerce platform JD.com reported that sales from its live streaming channel had increased by over 300% compared to the same period in the previous year.
  5. In January 2021, popular Chinese actress Li Jiaqi generated over 2.7 billion yuan ($420 million) in sales during a live stream, breaking her own record for the highest single-day sales by an individual influencer.

Finally, according to Statista, China’s livestream shopping industry is projected to be worth more than $700 billion by the end of 2023. So, I think that in the past the Chinese were copying everything from the Western world. Looking at these numbers, I think it’s about time the Western world started to copy stuff from China, especially when it comes to eCommerce and Live Shopping.