Social Commerce And Livestreaming Attract Big Brands In Southeast Asia

woman online shopping with smartphone

People are shopping more and they’re shopping for more. That’s the current state of play in Southeast Asia where social commerce is growing rapidly as brands try to find new ways to sell during the pandemic.

According to research from solutions provider iKala, social commerce orders in the first half of 2020 more than doubled, while gross merchandise value (GMV) grew three-fold compared to 2019. The study also validates the rise of live-selling, or broadcasting of live videos featuring products. Overall, the number of live-sales in the region increased nearly 67 percent, thanks to the heaviest usage among shoppers in Singapore and Thailand.

“Social commerce is growing rapidly, and every day social media companies are adding new capabilities to support this growth. For retailers, the opportunities are apparent, but to truly succeed they must find ways to make the shopping experience live, interactive and seamless,” said iKala CEO and Co-Founder Sega Cheng. “Social commerce will continue to evolve, and retailers who adapt quickly and experiment with a growing array of social technologies will emerge strongest.”

Case in point: Luxury fashion and auto brands in Thailand are now selling their products on Japanese chat app Line. According to Reuters, Louis Vuitton, Chanel and Volvo were among the brands that opened accounts on Line as they looked to connect with users amid the lockdowns triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic. Line reportedly ranks above WhatsApp and Viber in Thailand.

“The luxury category was forced to adapt because their stores were closed,” Line Thailand Chief Commercial Officer Norasit Sitivechvichit told Reuters. “During the pandemic, sellers became very active.” Line said its monthly active users in Thailand — its second-largest market after Japan — grew from 44 million to 47 million this year. Line charges brands for sending messages and livestreaming.

“Merchants have also been forced to innovate and strengthen their omnichannel capabilities,” says a report in EU news site The Paypers. “They have been required to rethink their strategy to create new points of interaction, address consumers’ concerns, and facilitate a safe customer journey. Customers are indeed looking for a new experience online or in-store. This is especially important in a context where limited physical interaction is becoming a new norm.”

As an example, The Paypers points to Alipay, which has launched a new service that enables merchants to offer coupons or discounts during livestream advertising. Alipay users can then watch the livestream advertising on the Taoboa channel via their app, and then make purchases.

“This is an example of impulse buying directly linked to videos, which has potential to be a successful future use case,” the report said. “Technological improvements leveraging artificial intelligence will create innovative use cases that merchants can build on to develop new strategies and sales channels.”