Social commerce booming in Asia with live-stream shopping growth

Asian businesses operating in the burgeoning e-commerce space are quickly picking up on the potential of social commerce to engage with consumers at the heart of their online experience in the realm of social media.

At its core, the strategy gives brands a presence right where their consumers are spending many of their hours online – and it now occupies an estimated 44 per cent of the $109 billion Asian e-commerce market.

Social commerce allows retailers to sell products via their profiles on various social media networks as opposed to their own apps and websites. It allows consumers to discover and purchase products entirely within a social networking platform, while sellers use messaging to provide support along the way – so that shoppers can ask questions and receive one-on-one attention at any point during the experience.

While the trend is really just coming to prominence now – fuelled by the e-commerce boom arising from the global pandemic response – the term was first referenced by Yahoo! back in 2005. It’s evolved a great deal since then, but has emerged as a clear signal for online retailers to start driving conversions on social platforms where potential revenues are now shifting. This is particularly the case in Southeast Asia, where the average growth of social commerce in terms of gross merchandise value has grown by 307 per cent in the past year.

Arguably this year’s hottest trend in social commerce, live-stream shopping is considered a Chinese innovation, where it makes up 9 per cent of all e-commerce sales — but it too has deeper roots that lie in the American 24-hour shopping TV channels of the 1980s. Viewers of the day were captivated by celebrity hosts introducing new and exciting products available for purchase by phone. Live-stream shopping reimagines this “shoppertainment” concept for the digital age, with influencers taking advantage of the interactivity and engagement offered by social media platforms to sell products.

Live-stream shopping is conducted over live video, attracting customers to observe, interact and make purchases. Its success is largely driven by millennials and Gen-Zs who are most comfortable with social commerce, having grown up with advanced internet technologies.

Social commerce in Asia is now developing at a meteoric pace, building on a pre-Covid base of 2 billion internet users within the whole APAC region fuelling social commerce sales of  US$2 trillion – a figure expected to double by 2024. Retailers in the territory need to adapt quickly in order to ride the wave, and they need to be open to experimenting with emerging social technologies. It’s now critical for retailers to be open to taking calculated risks in the space, experimenting with how social commerce and live-stream shopping can benefit their business and integrating this approach into their wider marketing strategy.

Businesses should be driving conversions on social platforms such as Facebook Shop and Instagram Shop. To achieve this at scale, they should employ social messaging tools to engage and nurture consumers with prompt answers to their queries via messaging platforms such as WhatsApp.

Operating at scale is the key challenge. At Emplifi, we often see businesses lose a level of personalisation with their consumers as they grow – which in turn leads to poor customer service and loss of customers. This is what is otherwise known as the “customer experience gap” between what customers expect from a brand versus what brands are actually giving them. It is particularly challenging when interacting with less digital-savvy consumers who lack familiarity with this form of commerce.

Technology that enables brands to deliver fast, empathetic, convenient and effective customer experience without sacrificing the personal touch must be leveraged to bridge this gap. Emplifi’s Social Commerce Cloud service is one such tool that provides a unified CX platform to synchronise social commerce activity across platforms and includes features from the recent acquisition of Go Instore, a business that has been revolutionising the live shopping experience for brands and customers alike. The Go Instore platform enables live commerce by connecting online customers with in-store product experts using immersive HD live video. Their leading-edge video technology provides brands with a new channel through which they can engage and serve their customers. 

The Emplifi Social Commerce Cloud is an industry-first solution, fully integrated with e-commerce platforms such as Magento and Shopify. The platform consists of three cloud solutions: a Social Marketing Cloud, which is an end-to-end social media marketing tool enabling brands to amplify meaningful experiences at scale; a Social Commerce Cloud, which helps brands to convert followers to customers by providing instantaneous shopping experiences natively within popular social shops such as Facebook and Instagram; and a Service Cloud, which empowers brands to offer omnichannel customer service at scale without sacrificing the personal touch through automation and AI.

For a personalised demo of the unified Emplifi CX platform – comprising the Emplifi Social Marketing Cloud, the Emplifi Social Commerce Cloud, and the Emplifi Service Cloud – click through to

  • Varun Sharma is VP JAPAC at Emplifi.