Livestream commerce drives up to 30 percent higher conversion rates than e-commerce

Product return rates can double, though  
Livestream commerce drives up to 30 percent higher conversion rates than e-commerce
Livestream commerce

Livestream commerce, merging live video streaming with online shoppingm is not a groundbreaking concept in China. It’s an everyday reality.

Livestreaming, including live commerce, has become deeply entrenched in Chinese social media with up to 750 million viewers in December, according to Chinese research company Wind. This represents 70% of Chinese internet users.

In our part of the region, not so much. This article sheds light on livestream commerce, an authentic and immersive shopping experience, but also one rife with pitfalls.

In 2020, China’s shoppable livestream market surpassed ¥1 trillion ($6.8 billion). It’s where several players are challenging Chinese online shopping platform Taobao’s lead in the market.

China’s livestream commerce players have taken the concept abroad as well. According to iiMedia Research, that market grew by 50% between 2020 and 2021, from ¥24 billion ($163 million) to ¥36 billion ($244.5 million). In 2022, a real surge occurred with Chinese cross-border livestream commerce market reaching an estimated ¥111.6 billion. ($758.2 million).

This is a year-on-year increase by over 200%. By 2025, the cross-border market is expected to soar to ¥828.7 billion ($5.63 billion).

But not all is well with the shopping strategy. Livestream shopping has a strong entertainment character, which often triggers emotional and spontaneous purchases. While this leads to high conversion rates, not well-calculated purchases also incur disproportionate returns.

Conventional e-commerce sees return rates between 10 and 15 percent on average, while return rates for livestream commerce are at least 30 to 50 percent.

How does livestream commerce work?

Livestream commerce showcases goods and services through live video streaming to enable real-time interaction and sales. It often sees brand reps or influencers going live across social media platforms and enables online transactions resulting from interactive and immersive shopping experiences for consumers.

Read: The growth of e-commerce in the Middle East

Types of livestream commerce

Product demonstrations

Brands or influencers showcase products’ features, and benefits.


Brands or influencers host interactive Q&A sessions to connect with their audience directly reinforcing accessibility and trust in the company and their products.

Expert advice

Brands and influencers share advice with viewers, provide industry insights and share ideas for special occasions or best buys

Livestream stats and conversion rates

Livestream shopping app installation jumped 77 percent in the first half of 2022 in the U.S., according to Sensor Data Tower.

The top 10 live shopping apps grew 77% year-over-year in the first five months of 2022. Some 36 percent of livestream-selling events focused on apparel and fashion, the most common live commerce categories by far.

The immersive nature of livestream commerce often leads to higher conversion rates and increased sales because of real-time engagement effecting a persuasive environment for buyers.

Livestream shopping generates conversion rates approaching 30%, up to 10 times higher than conventional e-commerce.

Taobao Live, the dedicated streaming channel of Alibaba, claims a 32% conversion rate.

livestream commerce

Pitfalls and other hazards of livestream commerce

Livestream commerce can be a pressure cooker, where buyers are encouraged to buy on the spot if they are to receive discounts on their purchases or other accompanying gifts.

This sense of urgency can lead to impulsive buying decisions.  without thoroughly considering needs or backing the purchase with proper research.

Buyers also try to emulate influencers’ lifestyles and when they fail to do so, this could result in dissatisfaction with products and brands.

Trending tweaks to livestream commerce

Big name companies like Apple held a livestreaming event on China’s Tmall online marketplace during the country’s annual “618” midyear shopping festival.

The company had employees pitch iPhones and other familiar gadgets instead of influencers. It also did not use the event to take orders through in-video links. The idea was to direct buyers to the app and not make immediate purchases.

Using influencers to sell products usually involves steep markdowns, along with fees paid to online celebrities. Apple headed the advice of many experts who said these costs virtually wipe out any earnings to be made by the companies behind the products.

During the tail end of the 618 shopping event,‘s online shopping app featured a computer-generated female character livestreaming about fresh produce.  The human-like character was one of over 100 virtual hosts provided to merchants by’s cloud department for the 618 sale.

Livestreaming commerce encourages innovation and creativity when it comes to brands, influencers, or even virtual characters to continuously find new and engaging ways to present their products, leveraging storytelling, interactive elements, and visual appeal.

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