Apr 30, 2021
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Alibaba's Taobao unveils livestreaming innovations

Apr 30, 2021

Alibaba’s Taobao Live is investing more heavily in livestream commerce, a step that should not only boost its own revenues, but increase the pressure on other multichannel and pureplay e-tailers around the world to increase their livestreaming offers.

Taobao Live

It said it would “supercharge its ecosystem to yield further success for merchants, brands and KOLs [key opinion leaders, or influencers] on the platform”. It aims to support 2,000 livestream channels and 200 partners in reaching annual sales of CNY100 million (US$15.4 million) each. 

More and more western brands have been diving into livestream commerce in recent periods, but it remains at a very early stage compared to China. There, consumers have embraced the shopping channel enthusiastically, particularly during pandemic restriction periods.

The plan is to upgrade its platform tools in the year ahead and “leverage cutting-edge technologies to enhance its partners’ productivity and efficiency”. It has just unveiled two new tools for customer engagement and content marketing. A CRM tool “will better support sellers and KOLs to manage livestream content, sales, products and fan engagement via store-level private domains, while a new open and centralised portal serves to efficiently connect and match products, merchants and livestreamers for business opportunities”.

It has also adopted DAMO Academy’s AI algorithms to provide “accurate recommendations to customers and has tapped the academy’s AI-powered virtual livestream hosting technology to enhance user engagement”.

And it’s working with DAMO to develop “an intelligent livestreaming camera that will enable real-time feedback to anchors during broadcasts to improve the livestream experience”.

The device leverages DAMO’s multimodal algorithms, including speech, natural language processing, and visual and hand gestures, “so that livestream hosts can interact with viewers more vividly”. And it comes with real-time updates of livestream statistics, such as click rates, sales numbers and the number of “thumbs up” feedback from viewers.

The company said that Taobao Live “has become an integral part of merchants’ day-to-day operations and marketing strategies, with more than 60% of Taobao Live sessions currently being broadcast from the official stores of brands and sellers”. For the 12 months to March 31 this year, of the more than 1,000 Taobao Live channels, 55% were operated by merchants on the platform. And over 90% of new brands have used the tool.

So it’s perhaps no surprise that daily active users (DAU) doubled last year with the number of “loyal users” who watched livestream sessions six times per day and placed an average of more than 10 orders per month increasing by 150%. The average spend of these loyal users was in excess of CNY1,500 ($230) monthly.

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