The first half of Alibaba’s global 11.11 shopping festival reaffirmed livestreaming’s importance in China’s e-commerce ecosystem. Livestream commerce was first pioneered by Alibaba to connect consumers and merchants in 2016 and this year’s 11.11 saw record viewership with increased new host participation and rising pre-sale value on Alibaba’s Taobao Live.
During the first four hours of the pre-sale period starting from the evening of October 24, Taobao Live’s new hosts experienced a 684 percent increase in pre-sale value and the top 130 livestreaming channels operated by influencers and brands generated more than RMB10 million (approx. $1.38 million) in pre-sale value — a festival record contributed not only by the highly active influencer community, but also brands and merchants. Later during the first four hours of the first check-out window, beauty brands such as Estée Lauder, La Mer, and Lancôme achieved over RMB100 million (approx. $13.8 million) in sales, while more than 1,000 fashion brands like ELLE recorded over 100% growth in sales value.
“Livestreaming has become a storytelling format for delivering product information. Consumers are getting used to longing for a particular product through content consumption,” said Chui Xue, president of the industry development and operation centre of digital marketplaces of Taobao and Tmall, during a press conference to mark the start of pre-sales.
As livestreaming becomes an ever more important and popular tool for brands, the value of a cohesive, established, and user-friendly e-commerce platform to capture customer interest and stickiness generated by the livestream takes on great importance. With this goal in mind, livestreamers come to Alibaba as the e-commerce partner of choice as they can gain access to an expansive group of ready-to-shop consumers, as well as a fully integrated e-commerce infrastructure and support services that help them grow sustainably during the 11.11 shopping festival and beyond.
Driving brand loyalty through an integrated approach to livestream
As China’s e-commerce ecosystem evolves, it becomes increasingly important for merchants to transition their focus from sales-driven growth to sustainable, long-term membership business opportunities
. Merchants need a platform where livestreaming is more than just a one-time, promotional marketing tool, but also a gateway to a sustainable and day-to-day operation platform that has the robust e-commerce infrastructure support post-livestreaming sessions to maintain a sustainable and long-term relationship with customers. This is exactly what the Alibaba platforms can provide and how it helps merchants to generate the highest ROI.
Alibaba offers an integrated marketplace with multiple channels and formats for engaging consumers. The company’s platforms provide continuing services before and after livestreaming sessions, including membership management, logistics and supply chain, payment, technology-powered operation tools, consumer insights, and more. This one-stop, comprehensive service offering helps retain consumers after the livestreaming sessions and increase their stickiness to the merchants’ storefronts on the platforms, and hence bring sustainable value to merchants. During the presale period of this year’s 11.11, brands on Tmall gained in excess of 66 million new members.
Adding to the integrated approach, consumers also come to the Tmall and Taobao platforms with strong mindshare due to the hard-earned trust and loyalty in both platforms after Alibaba’s over 20 years of development. This means that consumers organically visit, browse, and return to Tmall and Taobao with a conscious intent to purchase, directly translating into higher sales conversion rate for livestreams and reducing customer acquisition costs.
The importance of a diverse livestreaming ecosystem
The unique advantages of Alibaba’s livestreaming capabilities that are supported by proprietary technology enable the company to provide an industry-leading, superior consumer experience. This has attracted a large number of celebrities, KOLs, and MCNs (multi-channel networks) behind them, as well as storefront hosts from businesses of all sizes and industries, to constitute a rich and vibrant ecosystem.
On Taobao Live, 60% of livestream sessions are conducted by merchants who are either the brand owners or authorised distributors. In the last 12 months, over 500,000 new hosts — many with millions of followers and KOLs who were previously exclusive to other social media platforms — have joined Taobao Live. In the two months leading up to 11.11, more than 100 livestream agencies joined Taobao Live, including the top four MCNs in China.
Ahead of Singles’ Day 2022, Alibaba has also made considerable improvements to its livestreaming offerings. New updates to streaming rooms leverage augmented and virtual reality technology, powering a more immersive customer experience. During this year’s 11.11, more than 2,000 brands are using Alibaba’s updated livestreaming technology for new product launches, including the immersive XR experience.
Using multiformat content to deepen consumer engagement
Although Taobao Live is an important merchant tool, it comprises just one part of Alibaba’s larger content strategy that aims to help merchants to further enrich consumer experiences to build brand loyalty and achieve sustainable growth. In addition to livestreaming, merchants can also access Alibaba’s larger content ecosystem, which includes Guangguang, a built-in content channel on Taobao and Tmall that allows merchants, influencers, and consumers to publish blog posts and make product recommendations.
Other functions also include interactive Q&A function on the product details page, mutual product recommendations among users, top trends, and searched products. Taking a new, content-based approach to product marketing, many merchants can benefit from Alibaba’s digital intelligence guarantee.
As the e-commerce landscape evolves, mature Chinese consumers require rich content with quality services. This in turn demands merchant to provide a seamless customer journey supported by rich engagement content, innovative consumer experiences, and certainties in customer services — which is exactly Alibaba’s value proposition.
Combined with its unique combination of tools and support services that cover a comprehensive content ecosystem, marketing, operations, and technology, Alibaba’s large consumer base with strong mindshare provides merchants with the unparalleled support they need to achieve customer loyal and long-term growth.