The rise of live shopping in Southeast Asia



17th July 2023

~ 5 min read

In today’s rapidly evolving world of e-commerce where consumer expectations continue to soar, brands are constantly searching for innovative ways to captivate audiences and drive sales. 

Over the last few years, we’ve seen live shopping take the Asian market by storm. This new shopping format, spearheaded by influential personalities and tech giants, allows viewers to indulge in the thrill of real-time product showcases, interactive conversations, and exclusive deals. As global brands set their sights on expanding their presence in Asia, harnessing the power of live shopping has become a compelling strategy to engage customers in a more personal and immersive manner.

What is live shopping?

Live shopping is a new form of e-commerce that combines the convenience of online shopping with the excitement of live entertainment.

In this format, influencers or brand representatives host a live video stream to showcase products, answer questions, and offer exclusive deals to viewers. Viewers can make purchases instantly within the live stream session without leaving the platform, often with added incentives like free shipping or limited-time discounts.

(Screenshots from YSL Beauty’s live shopping session on Taobao. Left image shows interactive conversations, right image shows that users can browse and purchase products in real time.)

The growth of live shopping

Live stream shopping has surged to become the undisputed champion of shopping methods in China. In 2022 alone, the live stream shopping industry skyrocketed, generating a staggering 3.5 trillion Yuan (equivalent to a jaw-dropping 494 billion dollars). Further, according to CNNIC’s annual research, by December 2022, the number of live stream shopping users soared to an astonishing 515 million, encompassing nearly half of China’s entire internet user base. This means that approximately one in two internet users in China dabbled in the captivating realm of live streaming shopping last year. The scale and impact of this phenomenon are simply unparalleled.

(Data from iResearch, graph by Cinda)

Live shopping as part of the e-commerce mix

While the West might have been debating the efficacy of live shopping as a marketing strategy, China has already embraced it as an integral part of the marketing mix. 

This groundbreaking approach has swiftly transformed the way consumers engage with online shopping, revolutionising the e-commerce landscape. With remarkable success in user acquisition and shaping new purchasing behaviours, live shopping has become a standard marketing channel, leaving global brands like Estée Lauder, FILA, LEGO, Coach, and Kiehl’s no choice but to join the movement for their marketing efforts in China.

(Screenshot of Kiehl’s live shopping session on Taobao)

What’s more, an increasing number of brands who previously focused on getting product placement on influencers’ live shopping channels, are now developing and establishing their own live shopping. 

In fact, retailers’ own live shopping sessions accounted for a staggering 60% of Taobao Live’s Gross Merchandise Volume (GMV) in 2021, according to Alibaba.

This immersive and interactive platform has redefined the shopping experience, allowing retailers to connect with their audience in real-time, build genuine connections, and drive sales.

Other regions of Asia have followed suit

According to this Ninja Van survey across Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam, one in three e-commerce sellers now offer live shopping to their customers. The region’s appetite for this dynamic shopping experience is undeniable. One platform that has experienced remarkable success in Southeast Asia is TikTok Shop, which saw its GMV surge more than four times to reach an impressive $4.4 billion USD in 2022. The projected GMV target for this year stands at $12 billion USD, as reported by Tech Wire Asia.

Amidst this live shopping buzz in the region, YouTube is also eyeing the lucrative market. Unlike Meta, which scaled back its live commerce efforts worldwide, YouTube is embracing the trend and stepping into the limelight with its own dedicated live shopping channel, starting in South Korea. The channel launched on 30 June 2022, featuring approximately 30 brands that offered their products for sale, promising a fresh and immersive shopping experience (KoreaBizWire). 

Tips for brands who want to leverage live shopping in Asia

For global brands seeking to expand their footprint in Asia, live stream shopping presents a unique opportunity to connect with customers in a personal and interactive way. With consumers in Asia readily adapting to this new shopping experience, it’s evident that live stream shopping is here to stay. However, there are essential considerations to bear in mind. 

Should you lean on influencers or build your own live shopping channel? 

Many brands are under the perception that live shopping must rely solely on influential personalities to achieve optimal results. While partnering with high-profile influencers can indeed help reach a much wider audience and potentially drive more sales, it’s important to consider alternative strategies. Placing your products on well-known live shopping channels may come at a higher cost, and brands often have limited power in negotiating the prices for their products sold.

On the other hand, building your own live shopping channel grants you greater control over pricing and the presentation of your brand and products. However, it’s important to note that building your own channel does require initial investments in technology, space, and personnel. Therefore, brands should carefully weigh the pros and cons of each approach and choose the most suitable option for their business.

Be consistent

Producing new live shopping sessions consistently is key, especially for brands who want to establish their own live shopping. Influencers run live shopping sessions almost daily in China, and brands typically host live shopping streams more than three times a week. This consistent presence builds trust, keeps the audience engaged, and fosters a loyal following that will come a long way in acquiring new customers in the future.

Be entertaining

One common misconception is that live shopping is just a new form of old TV shopping. To truly stand out and captivate audiences, brands need to plan and go beyond the traditional shopping experience. Asking the audience questions, sharing engaging stories, incorporating games, and offering behind-the-scenes glimpses and exclusive promotions, are all great ways to create a truly entertaining and immersive shopping experience. Innovate and explore new ways to engage with your audience to leave a lasting impression.


It’s clear that this dynamic phenomenon has reshaped the e-commerce landscape and captured the hearts of millions of digitally savvy consumers in Asia. With its meteoric rise and undeniable impact, live shopping has emerged as a formidable force that cannot be ignored. 

By following the top tips outlined above, brands can navigate the nuances of this evolving platform, harness its power to connect with customers on a deeper level, and unlock unprecedented growth in the dynamic markets of Asia. Embrace the future of e-commerce and embark on an exciting journey into the realm of live shopping, where innovation, engagement, and success await those ready to seize the moment.


If you’re interested in learning more about growing your brand presence in Asia, or enhancing your digital marketing strategy with live shopping, feel free to connect with our APAC team.

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