Rise of live commerce: Advertisers log into new channel of marketing

Live commerce is gaining popularity as it amalgamates live streaming's potency with online shopping's convenience for a more dynamic buying experience, say experts

by Shantanu David
Published - September 11, 2023
4 minutes To Read
Rise of live commerce: Advertisers log into new channel of marketing

It’s becoming an all too familiar sight on various commerce platforms: brands from various categories coming together with influencers in what amount to infotainment, with influencers displaying the brand’s wares to an increasing audience of viewers, who will hopefully become shoppers.

“As reported by Redseer, Indian live commerce market is expected to reach a GMV of USD 4 to 5 Bn by 2025, of which Fashion will contribute 60%-70% and the rest being split between beauty, personal care and others. In India, live commerce accounts for less than 0.5% of total commerce sales compared to 15% in China,” says Anshul Garg, Managing Partner and Head, Publicis Commerce India.

That means there’s enormous potential for the Indian market to grow its live ecommerce segment. According to Garg, there are various players in the Indian live commerce ecosystem ranging from Indian short video apps such as Josh, Moj, Roposo etc to social media giants such as Instagram Reels.

Ritika Taneja, Head of E-Commerce, GroupM India, observes that live e-commerce streams have surged in popularity, particularly in India. “With increased digitalization and high-speed internet access, consumers lean towards online shopping through live streaming platforms. Live commerce amalgamates live streaming's potency with online shopping's convenience for a more dynamic buying experience. Notably, Flipkart has an interactive format seamlessly integrated from the homepage to the product page, along with a dedicated homepage for brand leverage.”

Shashank Rathore, Vice President, E-commerce, Interactive Avenues (the digital arm of IPG Mediabrands India), says the substantial expansion of the retail media sector, currently ranking as the fourth-largest within the digital advertising landscape with an estimated value of approximately 452 million USD (approximately 3600 crore INR), serves as compelling evidence of its trajectory towards rapid growth.

“This sector witnessed more than a twofold increase in size during the period spanning from 2019 to 2022, surpassing expenditures in radio, out-of-home advertising, and cinema, as per the findings of a recent Dentsu AdEx report. The ascending trajectory of the broader e-commerce industry in India, anticipated to achieve sales of approximately 100 billion USD by 2024, along with the imperative to target not only audiences in the "planning to buy" stage but also those actively engaged in "buying," underscores the increasing significance of retail media.”

Social commerce start-ups such as Trell, Bulbul, 2Mall, and Simsim as well as marketplace live commerce such as Amazon Live, Flipkart Live, Myntra Live, Nykaa Live have already made their mark while standalone brands launching their own live commerce service by partnering with tech providers such as Firework, Bringing.Live, Restream.io, GoSwirl.live, and others.

“As of my most recent update, live e-commerce broadcasts were experiencing a surge in popularity within the Indian market, underpinned by the availability of diverse platforms that facilitated these broadcasts. These platforms served as conduits for brands, influencers, and sellers to engage with their target audiences via live streaming, affording them the opportunity to present and market products to a broad spectrum of viewers,” says Rathore, while noting, it is incumbent upon us to acknowledge that the dynamic landscape of live e-commerce in India may have witnessed transformations since the aforementioned period.

Kartik Khanna, Co-Founder, The Starter Labs (Zoo Media), says that additionally, e-commerce brands increasingly involve their regular customers in user-generated content campaigns. "This strategy fosters a sense of community and builds trust among potential customers. As for other brand segments, we're witnessing a broader trend of various industries entering this influencer engagement space. Live streaming for e-commerce has experienced a surge. In China, for instance, Alibaba's Taobao Live reported over 400% growth in merchants using live streaming to sell products.”

This is the success that advertisers and agencies are looking to replicate in India. Garg and Taneja say that the most popular way for brands to do this is to work with influencers, who themselves are finding social commerce a lucrative addition to their activities. Watch this space for more on that.

Khanna adds that ecommerce brands incorporating user-generated content into their strategies have found success, with 79% of consumers stating that UGC highly influences purchasing decisions. Social media platforms are becoming shopping destinations as well, as around 55% of online shoppers purchase directly through a social media platform.

“There are also a lot of consumer complaints being handled or resolved directly on social media platforms itself by ecommerce brands which is good to see. And quirky interactions between brand and its consumers on a lot of campaigns, a trend set by Swiggy and Zomato and now followed by others too,” says Priyanka Dey, Head of Business & Strategy, Ideas Farm.

She adds, “It’s a micro advertising approach between usage of influencers and direct consumers which is fast gaining traction. We also see other non-traditional categories enter this space as well. Things like fabrics, paints, home improvement hardware etc are now entering this space. It’s now freshly opening its doors to b2b2c categories which was previously very restricted to brick-and- mortar stores.”