Business of Design

Alibaba's Singles Day Bolstered By Live-Streaming Retail Market's Projected $125 Billion in Sales This Year

“Within five years in America, if you don’t do livestreaming, your company will just disappear and get left behind,” predicts Mark Yuan, co-founder of the livestreaming consultancy And Luxe.

The Download: Ahead of Alibaba’s 11th annual Singles Day shopping event today, a new report by Coresight Research estimates that the livestreaming retail market in China will grow from $63 billion in 2019 to $125 billion this year. So far, Singles Day, which runs over four days, has amassed over $70 billion in sales, with orders peaking at a record 583,000 per second. The world’s biggest sales event has already brought in 20 times the amount of orders by value as Amazon’s Prime Day in October. (China’s population is estimated to be 1.4 billion while the U.S. clocks in at 329 million, according to the U.N.)

Why it Matters: Livestreaming, many analysts predict, is the future of retail. Though it’ll be a central component of Singles Day, through Alibaba’s platform Taobao Live, the U.S. hasn’t caught onto the trend of live shopping yet. The market is valued at about $5 billion in the States. Meanwhile, two-thirds of Chinese consumers report making a livestream purchase in the past year, according to an AlixPartners survey of 2,029 adults conducted from Sept. 30 to Oct. 6. Discounts and instant information are two of the top reasons people cited for tuning into Taobao Live. 

Outlook: Alibaba is expecting as many as 400 company executives and 300 celebrities to participate in livestreams during Singles Day this year. In advance of the digital shopping bonanza, this past weekend Taylor Swift joined Chinese livestreaming star Huang Wei for a livecast to preview the big event. Retired NBA legend Magic Johnson is set to appear as an ambassador for Uncle Bud’s during the CBD brand’s livestream today. 

In Their Words: “Within five years in America, if you don’t do livestreaming, your company will just disappear and get left behind,” says Mark Yuan, co-founder of the New York–based livestreaming consultancy And Luxe. “Right now, if you’re a business, you have a website. In the future, if you’re a company in retail, you will do livestreaming.” Deborah Weinswig, CEO of Coresight, echoes Yuan’s insight: “Shopping is a sport in China. And this is a consumer who prides themselves on research before they buy something. Even farmers have become influencers; people will buy their groceries from a farmer on a livestream.”

Surface Says: Amazon launched Amazon Live last year as a sort of modern-day home shopping network, but it hasn’t gained much traction. That doesn’t mean the U.S. won’t catch on eventually. Once stateside influencers discover the potential monetary windfall, they’ll be hawking products on livestreams in no time.  

All Stories