Chinese e-commerce platform Xiaohongshu to jump on ‘shoppertainment’ trend with live-streaming

Zen Soo

Chinese social commerce platform Xiaohongshu will launch live-streaming features early next year, the latest in a stream of e-commerce sites that have implemented the feature as a way to better engage with consumers.

The launch, which was announced at its recent Creators’ Day conference, comes as other prominent e-commerce platforms such as Alibaba, JD.com and Mogu have launched the feature with great success. Live-streaming is part of the growing “shoppertainment” trend in China’s e-commerce industry, where platforms meld entertainment and shopping to entice shoppers to spend more time on their platform.

Xiaohongshu – also known as Red – aims to help over 100,000 content creators on its platforms gain more than 10,000 followers in the coming year, said Xiaohongshu community director Ke Nan at the conference. The live-streaming feature will first be rolled out as a test feature before an official launch next year.

E-commerce live-streaming has taken off in China, with merchants using the medium as a way to show off their wares and directly interact with consumers. During this year’s Singles’ Day festival, Alibaba’s Taobao Live raked in 20 billion yuan (US$2.85 billion) worth of transactions within the 24-hour period. Alibaba owns the South China Morning Post.

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Another popular e-commerce platform Pinduoduo, the third largest e-commerce platform behind Alibaba and JD.com, debuted its first live-streaming session late last month in a signal that the company could also be adding the feature to the platform soon as a way to drive growth.

The e-commerce live-streaming trend, which originated in China, has also found its way to markets overseas. In Southeast Asia, e-commerce platforms like Shopee and Lazada also offer the feature.

However, this shopping trend has yet to take off in markets like the US, where live-streaming – mainly on social platforms like Facebook Live or Twitch – tends to be used primarily for functions like communication, gaming or entertainment rather than e-commerce.

Interestingly, while US e-commerce sites such as Amazon have been slow to adopt live-streaming, some social platforms have taken a leaf out of the book of Chinese social commerce networks. Last year, Instagram introduced a "shoppable tags" feature that allows users to buy items they see in Instagram stories or posts. China’s social commerce companies have been using them since 2015, and Facebook tried something similar in the same year.

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