Livestream-shopping has found a rapidly growing audience in Southeast Asia, as consumers and brands alike increasingly turn to online modes of engagement and entertainment in the wake of Covid-19.
LazLive, the in-app livestreaming channel of Alibaba Group’s Lazada e-commerce platform in Southeast Asia, has become an important fixture in the platform’s “Shoppertainment” strategy, merging retail and entertainment to create fun and innovative experiences for consumers. In April 2020, the channel gained over 27 million new active viewers and typically led to higher transaction levels than offerings from other online retailers.
Like its popular China counterpart, Taobao Live, LazLive creates a seamless and interactive “See Now, Buy Now” environment for shoppers. The LazLive model forms a closed loop for making purchases on the platform, offering one-stop education, entertainment and engagement, removing the friction of retail via digital payments, shipping and delivery. Online after-sale services rounds out the experience.
“We are building an inclusive and vibrant ecosystem here in Southeast Asia by bringing sellers, brands, consumers, KOLs and even normal individuals closer together. There is an increasing synergy among everyone involved, which implies profound potential and prospects for the livestreaming industry in the region,” said Raymond Yang, chief product officer at Lazada.
Lazada said demand for its livestreaming tools have soared during the pandemic, as stores closed and people stayed at home to curb the spread of Covid-19. In April, LazLive reported a 45% month-over-month uplift in total gross merchandise volume, and a 40% increase in the number of users revisiting that platform the next day.
Jeffrey Towson, a speaker and scholar specializing in the digital landscape of China and other rising Asian economies, explained that part of the success of livestreaming comes from the fact that it is democratic in nature. “Advertising is no longer about George Clooney and Zhang Ziyi. Livestreaming is by college students, factory workers and farmers. It’s everyone,” he said.
The fact that everyone and anyone can use livestreaming has made the tool particularly effective in supporting small and medium-sized enterprises during Covid-19. According to Lazada, the number of “grassroot streamers” – everyday app users who have taken up livestreaming to share and sell products – saw significant growth, representing 40% of LazLive’s newly registered accounts in April.
Among the merchants who have benefited from the channel is Bui Ngoc Ha, the owner of handmade-shoe brand Xuong Giay Minh Nhan in Ninh Binh Province, Vietnam. The full-time teacher started selling her products, crafted by artisanal shoemakers, on LazLive in December 2019. In the first quarter of this year, her business grew by 50% compared to the same period last year. Despite disruptions caused by the coronavirus outbreak, Ha and her team of 20 local craftsmen now see 200 to 300 orders per day, up from the average of 15 orders they would receive before the outbreak. Her LazLive success has also helped support the livelihoods of local shoemakers from rural villages, who would otherwise be severely impacted by the pandemic.
“Over the past few months we’ve witnessed the power of LazLive – it is digitalizing businesses and creating new jobs while keeping people connected and occupied at home,” said Yang.
Yang added that interactive, social features were key to the platform. LazLive viewers are young – the majority of Lazada users are under 30 years old – and like to spend time getting to know a product and brand before making a purchase. In an April survey, LazLive users said entertainment was their top reason for using the service.
To meet the demand for entertaining and engaging content, LazLive in April launched a special work-at-home series in collaboration with local influencers to encourage people to stay positive while quarantined. More than 30 dedicated sessions were broadcast each day to audiences in Indonesia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore and the Philippines. To further engage users, LazLive introduced a new split-screen feature for its popular “Sing It” karaoke show, allowing viewers to virtually perform duets side-by-side with their favorite idols.
“Livestreaming and Lazada’s Shoppertainment strategy is all about creating new and different scenarios to build user awareness and prepare them for purchase in the context of e-commerce,” said Yang. “We are confident that Southeast Asian markets will eventually convert to new forms of digital shopping as the economies develop and consumers’ disposable incomes grow.”
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