Live Ecommerce Streaming 101 for India

Summary: Present below is my deepdive on live ecommerce streaming scene in India from early 2021. It is a qualitative breakdown covering the basics, trends & mechanics of what’s happening in China, monetization strategies and what’s happening in India.
This is the 3rd blog in the live streaming series. Please visit notes on game streaming and lifestyle streaming to learn more about them.

Bottom Line: What makes any Live successful?

what makes live streaming successful

Excite, engage & enable the audience to make a successful live.

There are three fundamental components that make a stream successful. These components are critical not only to attract new viewers but also to retain existing ones.

Firstly, a successful stream must be exciting and engaging enough to keep viewers coming back for more. This can be achieved by having an engaging and charismatic host, interesting content, and a lively chatroom. A stream that can evoke emotions, such as excitement (what comes next), joy, and laughter, is more likely to succeed in attracting and retaining viewers.

Secondly, a successful stream should engage with streamers in any way possible. This can be achieved by allowing viewer participation through interactive games, Q&A sessions, or simply responding to comments and suggestions. By engaging with the audience, the streamer can create a sense of community, which can further encourage viewers to keep coming back.

Lastly, a successful stream must enable viewers to participate and receive gratification. This can be achieved by allowing viewers to participate in polls, contests, giveaways, or simply by having a rewards system. Such participation can make viewers feel valued and appreciated, which can lead to increased loyalty and retention.

Types of Streaming 🎥

  • Game Streaming : A streamer plays a game and streams it online.
  • Entertainment/Lifestyle Streaming : A streamer entertains with people while just chatting or engages with audience with skill.
  • Ecommerce Streaming : A streamer talks about a product/service and sells it online and also entertains users while doing it.

Live Commerce Streaming🛒

china live commerce streams


  • Comprises of streamer selling through live interaction (and possibly entertainment).
  • 3 Types of streamers
    • Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs)/Influencers
    • Small Business owners/employees
    • Brands/professional streams
  • Big on Facebook India. Majorly led by Fashion (women) + jewellery + Religion. (More on next slide)
  • Myguru has done live streaming for astrology+tarrot card reading and charges 49-99 rupees for 5 minute call.
  • This form of commerce is inherently different than the video commerce model of BulBul/Simsim. People love interacting, better the interaction better will be retention and hopefully transactions. (this element was completely missing in video commerce.)
  • Startups like BulBul/SimSim/Trell or big companies like Myntra/FB have not ventured here as of March 2021. Why?

China – Huge craze for Live Commerce

china gmv growth live commerce
  • Retail is entertainment in China – this is important to understand.
  • It’s estimated to already be $60 billion annually in 2020. (20 billion bigger than Indian ecommerce market).
  • In 2019 approximately 37% of China’s online shoppers made livestream purchases, ~9% of all online retail sales.
  • While it has been driven by Gen-Z and Millennials, middle-aged Chinese and seniors are jumping on the trend.
  • More details on China here (interesting read)
  • PS: Real data is hard to come by as GMV is very misleading here. Many articles mentioned that cancellations are like 50-60%.

China Live Commerce Mechanics

ecosystem of live commerce china
  • Customers who engage in entertainment or game traffic may not purchase goods if you start selling to them suddenly.
  • You must build traffic in the right way by offering value and other appropriate incentives.
  • Logistics is a top priority. For most consumers, live ecommerce relies on impulse buying, which requires same-day or next-day delivery.
  • Tier 3 users are attracted to unique content and the ability to ask questions. These users have seen many brands and need to trust a company before making a purchase. Tier 1 or 2 users are interested in new brands and may have specific questions.
  • In China, a full-stack approach emerged as logistics, internet, and online payment infrastructure developed. Companies in China are currently training talent for live streaming sales. Link
  • How to think this for India?

A Day in the Life of a Live Commerce Streamer

day in the life of live commerce streamer china
  • Source: CNN Article on Live Commerce in China
  • Companies pay to have their products featured and streamer earns a commission for each sale made, typically ranging from 6% to 16% depending on the platform.
  • More than 20 people directly or indirectly support above streamer’s work, including teams from a local talent agency that assist in product selection, discount offers, and filming schedule planning.

Live Commerce on Facebook India

  • FB seems to have more traffic than insta, with a viewer age range of 25-45.
  • FB streams are very interactive and gamified, with some sellers offering free giveaways to top sharers.
  • Most sellers do not offer cash on delivery or cancellations.
  • Many boutique/sellers stream daily, with streamers typically based out of Delhi or Hyderabad.
  • There are no negative comments or complaints in the streams I saw, and viewers were even inquiring about when they could expect to receive their products.
  • All streams have a very natural setting, with women receiving extra help to sell online and kids running around in the background.
  • There is no marketplace operation present and inventory management is totally missing. One issue users face is when the item will be restocked.
  • Youtube has video commerce links and many influencers, making it an important platform for affiliates.
  • Also, why hasn’t myntra/flipkart started this? What if they do tomorrow?
facebook live commerce streams

Questions To Ponder

  • Does India have the right elements for Live Commerce to succeed?
    • You need high enough GDP per capita so impulse purchase can happen. 👎
    • You need same day or next day delivery. This is possible 👍
  • Further, India is not homogenious as China. In China 80% people speak Mandarin. That can be one issue to scale.
  • Is this more prominent in mass goods or premium goods?
  • Assuming above is solved, why haven’t or rather why won’t the existing players launch this format and win the market?
  • Failure of BulBul/SimSim and success of Facebook live shows that influencer led model may not be the right approach. Aim should be to directly enable the retailers/wholesellers.
    • Good part is Indian retailers are natural showmen and love putting up a show (think chandini chowk shop owner draping a saree to show how it will look).
  • Optimist outlook can be Live can be huge in India as Indians have the time and the taste for entertainment based retail. Is the most important thing GDP Per capita then?

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