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Pleasure's high while shopping on livestreams

By Liu Yukun | China Daily | Updated: 2020-12-28 09:23
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Huang Wei, left, better known as Viya, sells dried persimmons during a livestreaming session in Shanxi province to help increase local farm incomes. [Photo/China Daily]

I have always told myself I'm not one of those crazy online shoppers who "shop till they drop" (or till their fingertips turn tender due to nonstop tapping on the phone screen). So, it came as a surprise when I, excited by the goings-on at Viya's livestreamed virtual sale on Taobao, Alibaba's online marketplace, ended up buying affordable jewelry, clothes, home appliances, and even snacks.

Viya, whose real name is Huang Wei, is among China's top e-commerce livestreamers. She sells almost everything from foods, clothing, cosmetics, to appliances, cars and houses, and even a rocket-launching service.

During the Singles Day shopping gala, Viya's livestreamed sale on Nov 10 reaped over 1.1 billion yuan ($168.2 million) and won 450,000 new fans, according to Zhigua, a data analytics platform that focuses on livestreaming on Taobao.

No matter how many times I told myself that livestreamers and their teams use a set of tricks to lure customers like me into buying things and hence I should be on guard and stay rational, I just couldn't help but snag items every time I saw new products, limited-edition offerings or discounts on my phone screen, and heard Viya count down "five, four … one, sold out!"

And the next thing I heard is my husband's scream: "Oh, not again!" He doesn't like it when I spend money on livestreamers' virtual sales. He thinks we should save up for our future children, who would literally become "money-eaters".But my theory is that I'm helping my family save money, considering I only buy useful products at much lower prices.

Undoubtedly, livestream shopping offers producers a new path to our hearts and wallets, by combining some of the most cutting-edge tech trends, including e-commerce, social media, streaming, influencers, and e-coupons.

Compared with traditional e-commerce, I prefer shopping on livestreams because I can chat with the hosts, see what the products look like, ask for more details, and sometimes even bargain for lower prices (that usually happens when the hosts have very few fans and want to attract more followers).

I'm not the only person who thinks that way. My 50-year-old uncle, who is not interested in e-commerce, started to learn shopping on livestreams and snag a barrage of discounts on Singles Day.

"I logged in around midnight to grab bargains for a whole set of gold jewelry, including necklaces, bracelets and rings, for my future daughter-in-law on Chow Tai Fook's flagship store on Tmall. It is a tradition that a son's parents give their daughter-in-law good jewelry for good wishes. I used to laugh at my son and nephews seeing them stay up late snagging discounts. Now, I have become one of them," my uncle said, laughing.

Actually, he bought most of the wedding supplies online as he received better price offers. As his family-run restaurant was severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, he wanted to save up as much as possible.

It is amazing how shopping on livestreams attracts middle-aged people who were hitherto indifferent to online shopping like my uncle, and even elderly people who are unfamiliar with e-commerce.

A Nielsen report showed livestreaming in e-commerce attracted 265 million users as of Nov 4, and is expected to create market value of 961 billion yuan this year. The report found that convenience and lower prices are key reasons why consumers are choosing to use livestreaming for shopping. Other reasons include the ability to obtain more product details and recommendations, and be up-to-date on upcoming special offers.

"I thought shopping on livestreams is very complicated so I hesitated to try, fearing I might be cheated by fraudsters. Besides, I didn't trust online transactions. During the first several months of this year, my family was stuck at home because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and I learned online shopping and shopping on livestreams from my nephews. It was much easier and safer than I thought, and the products were cheaper than those of offline channels," my uncle said.

A resident of a small village in Zibo, Shandong province, my uncle said logistics and delivery services have also improved, which is another reason that attracts him to shopping on livestreams. He is now promoting livestream-based e-commerce to his friends.

Apart from livestream shopping, more retail technologies and business models are on the horizon, which continue to boost consumers' shopping enthusiasm despite the COVID-19 challenge and global economic downturn.

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