It was during one of her trips to China that led 37-year-old Rachel Pang to discover the rising trend of live commerce in the world’s most populous country.
“I fly to China quite often and observed how livestreaming was done there and on platforms like Taobao Live,” said Rachel, founder and CEO of Shopavision.
The Singaporean was amazed at the new retail concept — from how they built their livestream commerce infrastructure and business model, to how local sellers run their entire businesses online.
Even farms on the countryside could sell their goods instantly via mobile livestreaming.– Rachel Pang, founder and CEO of Shopavision
With the success of home shopping TV networks in the US and other countries, she realised that mobile-first livestream commerce is an accessible, affordable, and sustainable way to drive marketing and sales.
This led her to develop Singapore’s first livestreaming focused shopping platform, Shopavision.
S’pore’s First Livestreaming Shopping App
Shopavision was already in the works since a year ago but Rachel felt that they had to push the launch forward.
When they made the decision to start building Shopavision, livestreaming was relatively new in Singapore and most people were certainly not familiar with it at all.
With the circuit breaker implemented and consumers stuck at home and online shopping, there was no better time to launch a live-streaming shopping service then.
“Covid-19 came as a surprise and we did wish that we can accelerate our development of the platform, but we had limited resources and Covid-19-related restrictions to make that happen,” said Rachel.
“Meanwhile, we know that many businesses have been suffering and we started to provide consultancy and run livestream shows to help merchants since July.”
A consumer-facing app on the front, Shopavision is built with a business backend system, integrated with livestream video technology, e-commerce capabilities, customer profiling, data analytics and native payments.
Shopavision merchants will attend training in digitalisation and make livestream commerce a part of their businesses.
They also offer livestream marketing and advertising services such as livestream show production and management, hosts engagement and featured media reviews.
The livestream shopping industry is new and we are definitely one of the first few players. In fact, we want to lead the way as the first and only dedicated livestream shopping platform in Singapore.– Rachel Pang, founder and CEO of Shopavision
$15K Sales Over 3 Livestreams
Rachel shared that they have worked with a traditional crab farm and fish farm to reach out to consumers on the Shopavision Facebook page.
The farms used to only operate on a B2B model where they would supply seafood to hotels and restaurants.
However, Covid-19 affected their business. They wanted to reach out directly to consumers so they turned to conducting their first livestream.
They raked in an estimated S$15,000 in combined sales — over three live stream sessions that spanned six hours.
In their three months of pre-launch marketing, Shopavision has completed a total of 40 livestream shows (with a mix of content and livesell), amounting to about 400,000 views and generating more than S$60,000 in sales.
They have more than 200 new paying customers in the past two months and more than 32,000 followers on their Facebook page.
The most popular videos on their page are live seafood sales that generated an average video view count of 23,000.
They also sell a range of other products from snacks to bak kut teh to mala noodles.
Shopavision has been building a community of live stream hosts and doing live streams on the Shopavision Facebook since June and is planning to officially launch by end of this year.
How Shopavision Compares To Other Platforms
Facebook Live is the most accessible means of livestreaming right now, explained Rachel.
However, it is a moment-sharing feature that is not built to facilitate commerce and does not support a business’ liveselling needs such as sales orders, customer data and payments.
Businesses are also restrained by the social platform’s control and algorithm, she said.
“Similarly for Instagram Live, it works well for outreach and awareness for generic livestream content, but it does not cater to targeted and localised livestream businesses,” added Rachel.
Shopee Live is also just a show-like feature.
“It’s still a walled garden and gated for their own selected merchants only. As an e-commerce giant, they are definitely our closest competitor.”
Rachel is confident that despite being a new startup, their long-time studies and observation of the market can give them an edge and fine-tune Shopavision with a suite of functions to meet merchants’ livestream needs.
Bootstrapping And Livestream Commerce Being A New Model
Rachel currently runs a marketing agency, OC Group, with her husband, for at least the last 10 years.
She is always seeking out new marketing solutions for her clients, as well as marketers and business owners.
However, all that did not come easy as she had a not-so-easy childhood.
“My family is not well-off so I decided to stop taking pocket money from my parents when I graduated from secondary school.”
She started working part-time retail sales jobs while still in school and rose through the ranks to become a manager at just 17 years old.
Later on, she set up the digital marketing agency with her husband. Back then, they were “one of the pioneer agencies in Singapore to have a full digital team” with clients across the Southeast Asia region.
She lets on that they “have been bootstrapping to build Shopavision over the past year while juggling [the] agency’s work so as to sustain [their] overheads”.
They have been working round the clock to manage both businesses while streamlining the team and resources. They are also looking to seek their first seed investment.
Being a new tech product/platform, we would be lying if we say that we did not encounter difficulties as we research and develop our system.
There are hardly any plugins nor examples readily available in the market. Payment integration with partners has not been the most smooth-sailing as livestream commerce is an unprecedented new model in Singapore.– Rachel Pang, founder and CEO of Shopavision
Gaining The Interest Of Razer’s CEO
Ride-hailing giant Grab has come onboard as an e-wallet partner with GrabPay.
Looking back, Rachel said that “it was daunting being a small fry approaching a super app for a partnership” and she “was half-expecting that she would not receive a reply”.
As for Razer Pay, she shared that Shopavision’s pre-launch marketing works caught the eye of Min-Liang Tan, CEO of Razer and he got in touch with them.
In what Rachel dubbed a “true honour”, both teams are working on integrating Razer Pay onto the Shopavision platform.
Popular With Seafood, Cosmetics And Earphones
According to findings commissioned by Shopavision, 15 per cent of people in Singapore turn to live streaming to purchase popular products such as fresh seafood, lipsticks and earphones.
Gen Z are more likely to jump onto the bandwagon followed by millennials. Four out of five respondents aged between 18 and 24 years old state that they are likely to purchase products from live streaming.
Furthermore, 55.4 per cent of this age group purchase products via live streaming.
The data was derived from 5,200 online conversations from May to June 2020.
We Are Still Far Behind China – What Needs To Be Done?
According to a recent study done by Shopavision, Singapore is slower in the adoption of live streaming as compared to countries such as China and United States.
Only 15 per cent of people in Singapore consume live streaming content, as compared to 90 per cent in China and 38 per cent in America.
It took China four to six years for livestream commerce to become the norm. Similarly, Singapore is now just in its infancy stage.– Rachel Pang, founder and CEO of Shopavision
The COVID-19 pandemic is a catalyst and there is greater awareness of what livestreaming is all about now.
The accessibility and credibility of livestream shopping platforms for end consumers, cashless payment options and support of the government for us as a new startup and for businesses to adopt livestreaming would make a difference to the adoption rate.– Rachel Pang, founder and CEO of Shopavision
“We want to be the go-to of livestream shopping in Southeast Asia,” added Rachel.
They are planning to soft launch the app in the fourth quarter this year and will continue to enhance the app with more immersive in-stream features and data intelligence.
“Within a year, we aim to enter a new market and make cross-border livestream commerce possible.”
For its foray into SEA, they are eyeing Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines and Thailand.
Featured Image Credit: Shopavision’s Facebook page