Streaming has increasingly become a valuable tool for online retailers as consumer sentiment falters and brands look to target shoppers more precisely.
‘Live commerce’ trends have taken off strongly in China over the past two years, with customers increasingly turning to online broadcasts and chat rooms as places to shop online. Projections from McKinsey Digital suggest China’s live commerce sector could be worth $US423 billion by the end of this year.
Shopify’s director of technology services and strategic merchants for the APAC region, James Johnson, said the company sees an opportunity to help those in the “creator economy”, including content producers and influencers, sell products via video.
“It’s moving from inspiration to transaction and making that as simple as possible,” he told The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.
The company’s new tools will let businesses tag products during a livestream on YouTube so that viewers can buy them while still watching the feed, or add a list of products on a “shelf” underneath an on-demand video.
Across the globe, big tech firms have been expanding their focus on live commerce. Instagram has a live shopping feature, while Amazon Live lets shoppers view reviews and videos on everything from skincare to baby goods.
Closer to home, Australian start-up Brauz partnered with Zoom earlier this year to offer shoppers virtual shopping appointments in the face of COVID restrictions.
Influencers and YouTube content creators are increasingly a target for products like Shopify’s, with YouTube VP of shopping product David Katz saying many of these video makers end up launching their own brands.
“It hasn’t been as seamless to reach their audience with these products directly on YouTube,” he said.
Online shopping has become indispensable in the post-COVID era, but consumer tech stocks have taken a hit in the recent market sell-off. E-commerce juggernaut Amazon is down 33 per cent for the year, while Chinese e-commerce platform Alibaba has declined 12.3 per cent.
Shopify, which is listed on the Toronto and New York Stock Exchange, has seen its shares drop 76 per cent year-to-date.
Documents filed with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission show its Australian operations posted a $780,000 profit in 2021, off the back of $16.2 million in revenue.
Johnson said that retail businesses were now facing macroeconomic challenges and ‘customer lifetime value’, or how much profit each customer contributes to a business over the course of all their interactions with a brand.
“As businesses adapt they need to figure out how they can build that lifetime value for their customers,” he said.