Amazon isn’t the only company trying out this type of hawking on an American audience. Instagram allows some influencers to sell products on livestreams through Instagram Shopping. Facebook made similar moves for small businesses this year. TikTok livestreamed a shopping event with Wal-Mart. And both Estée Lauder Companies and L’Oreal Group have hosted streams for some of their beauty brands.
“Everybody is thinking about this,” said Mark Yuan, a co-founder of And Luxe, a livestream e-commerce consultancy company in New York. “But they are rushing to it because of the pandemic. Before they had a choice. Now they have no choice.”
Mr. Yuan and Zoe Zhang started And Luxe to help bring Western brands to China but have recently seen an increase in inquiries from Western companies trying to get into e-commerce livestreaming. So far, Mr. Yuan said, no American company had quite mastered it. According to him, success entails more than just adding a video to the typical e-commerce experience. Instead what’s needed is a mix of content that isn’t tied to shopping but can attract new viewers, limited-time deals and even products exclusive to that livestream. That goes for all of the major tech companies trying to expand an audience.
“If they want to become an e-commerce livestream marketplace,” Mr. Yuan said, “they will have to change a lot.”
Although e-commerce livestreams are still a niche enterprise in the United States, they are big business in China, where…