A relatively new phenomenon in the online shopping world, live commerce in Southeast Asia is really taking off due to movement restrictions, working from home, and people not wanting to go out as much during the COVID-19 pandemic. With people spending more time indoors, shopping in the real world has slowed down, and eCommerce platforms are reaping the rewards. 

As they try to win over new customers and encourage their regulars to spend more, many are introducing, or ramping up their live commerce action. But what is live commerce? Which companies are winning the battle for more shoppers? And, is this new trend something you should be paying attention to? We look at all these questions and explore what the future holds for live commerce in the region.

What is live commerce?

Simply put, live commerce is selling in real-time. Many eCommerce platforms are adding a new dimension to their sales tool kit by hosting live demonstrations and gamifying their content. By using a combination of live-streamed mini TV shows, competitions and product demonstrations, companies such as Lazada, Shopee and Tokopedia can boost their sales and make the whole shopping experience more interactive. 

Many eCommerce platforms are quite static in the presentation of their content. You search, you find, you might read some reviews, and you add to your cart. Now, with live commerce, you can watch a small infomercial, see a live-action product review or interact with presentations, often delivered by an influencer or a celebrity, and click to buy while watching. Some presentations allow questions and answers giving a genuinely interactive experience. 

The influencer market is gaining traction in the region. We look at their ‘influence’ and what it means.

As competition heats up between platforms, live streams are becoming more like entertainment shows as they try to add extra value to your busy life. The live-streaming content also offers entertainment such as live concerts, workout sessions and cookery demonstrations. Within these “shows,” there are usually options to buy the products used, further increasing sales while also enhancing brand loyalty through the bonus entertainment.

This so-called shoppertainment element engages customers further and tempts them to open their eWallets to buy, buy, buy. Such is the success of this approach that Lazada recently held LazTalent competitions to find new “hosts” of these live sales pitches. 

Impact on shopping trends

By providing a virtual shopping environment guided by your new best friend—the presenter—consumers get a more well-rounded experience and feel more confident in their purchases. This approach, helped of course by the global pandemic, has seen first-quarter online sales in the region go through the roof with an increase of 30% of people shopping online since the outbreak of Coronavirus. 

Through value-adding content, many platforms are connecting with their customer base, winning new customers over and increasing brand loyalty. Running competitions, hosting game shows and offering special live sales, these eCommerce companies increase the time spent on their platforms and make consumers happier to purchase from them. During the lockdown, with boredom setting in for many, offering entertainment, encouraging health and fitness, and teaching new skills such as cooking has made LazaLive, Shopee Live and Tokopedia Play a part of the everyday lives of many in the region. 

The future of live commerce

Southeast Asia is already a leader when it comes to eCommerce, with Indonesia and Thailand as the highest global consumers, and most of the other ASEAN countries also exceeding the global average. The already tech-savvy, online shopping-hungry region of more than 600 million people, is the perfect place for live commerce and shoppertainment to expand. As live commerce in Southeast Asia grows in popularity, even the smaller platforms will find themselves needing to get in on the act if they wish to survive. 

Are influencers losing their actual influence? We explore this topic.

This trend is unlikely to go away anytime soon, so if you are in the business of selling online, now is the time to add the extra element of live to your platform. COVID-19 is driving more shoppers online, so to keep them on platforms for longer and to ensure they continue to engage even when the pandemic is over, startups and all eCommerce providers need to add value through live-streams, games and competitions. To further enhance the live aspects of their sites, some companies are exploring the use of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR). Using this technology will give customers the chance to experience shopping in a whole new way. 

It is no longer enough to just offer a good product for sale. Consumers want more. They want to be engaged, entertained and educated before they will purchase. Shoppertainment and live streams are the best way to do this and are a marketing trend that is unlikely to disappear anytime soon.