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Vulcan Post  |  SG
Published 2021-04-28 19:59:00
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It’s been several years since having a website became essential for just about all businesses in the world, particularly those in commerce. A website immediately offered a quick and convenient way for customers to find your business, learn more, and even purchase products and services. However, with the eCommerce space becoming so crowded, and go-to platforms for finding products like search engines favouring certain brands over most others, just having a website isn’t enough anymore.

This is particularly true of start-ups. The young businesses effectively seeking to stake a claim based on an innovative method or new idea always struggle to muscle in amongst big names. Without much brand recognition, smaller and newer businesses should seek suitably innovative ways of reaching out to and engaging with customers. Every eCommerce business should take advantage of all of the tools at its disposal, with start-ups having the benefit of being much more nimble and capable of jumping on a new idea.

Right now, particularly in Asia, the next big thing in customer engagement looks to be ‘live commerce,’ which continues to showcase its uses and potential.

Asia becoming the hub of live commerce

Live streaming is on the rise globally, both as a leisurely activity and as a method of communication between businesses and potential customers. Reports show that over 1 billion hours of live streaming was viewed in 2019 and that on LinkedIn, you’ll average 24x more comments on a live broadcast than with other forms of outreach. Crucially, though, four in five people prefer to consume information through a live video over a written post, and over 80 percent of audiences prefer live video to a regular post on social media.

Asia is where live video is really coming to the fore, with the widespread adoption of video-based social media platforms being wildly popular across the region. The live streaming market as its own entity is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of around 45 percent up to 2023 from 2017. As infrastructure improves, live streaming will only become more and more commonplace. So-called ‘shoppable live streams have already exploded across China, with big names like Taobao Live (of Alibaba), Douyin, and Kuaishou all in on the action.

Online, there’s somewhat of a disconnect between customers and storefronts in that customers are only seeing images on a screen and don’t have a sense of here-and-now or even realism in many cases. By utilising a live stream, suddenly things are happening in real-time, a product or service becomes real, and the provider becomes much more human than a URL and logo. It’s not a niche technology anymore, so online businesses should be looking into ways to incorporate or advance live streaming as a tool.

How is live streaming being deployed effectively?

The most clear-cut example of live streaming transforming a product is in the Asian online gaming scene. Video-form table games have been around for decades and remain popular online, but the live-streamed versions that have emerged in the last few years have changed the game. Now, for example, people can play live dealer baccarat at a real table, in real-time, and with a human croupier running the game. Live streaming has removed the barrier of geography, putting you at the table of a fully immersive experience. This application of the technology has rocketed the popularity of the tables section, offering a Las Vegas-like baccarat experience.

Not all products are suited to being enhanced through a live stream, though, with a much more common, even low-tech form of applying the tech being more a live showcase. Influencers have become substantial potential sources of advertising online, with these ‘regular people’ putting in the work to grow their own audiences, and then converting those audience figures into lucrative advertising deals by showcasing a product. However, it’s now less about giving them something to run with, and more about bringing them in for the business’ live event for star power and the trust element that comes with such an association.

It was seen with Pascual Yogurt and their live stream efforts that included a local celebrity chef, nutritionist, and wellness expert. Just having them present was a huge contributor to the company’s live stream getting over 7,000 views and nearly double that in comments. The stream was clearly engaging, encouraged interactions, and earned viewers through this sense of urgency and real-time that live streaming fosters. In China, Viya sold some 150,000 perfume bottles in a few seconds, having brought on Kim Kardashian West for a conversation through their live stream.

The key to the successful application of live streaming is to make the most of the real-time environment that it creates. In the live dealer games, people play live, interact with croupiers live, and get put at a real table in a proper casino room. With the live commerce streams, it’s all about making it a must-watch. Bringing in a popular figure helps, but then also offering a giveaway as a part of the live stream or exclusive discounts is also incredibly effective. The spatial immediacy created by a live stream can greatly enhance a person’s desire to buy into what’s being shown, whereas, on a website, it’s all too easy to just close the tab.

Going live is proving to be the next big step in customer engagement, and if it’s promoted and utilised well, it can bolster a business significantly.

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