If you’re doing business in China, then you need to be aware of Taobao Live – a live streaming feature on the Taobao platform. Offering unique opportunities for branded content and product promotion, Taobao Live is growing in popularity and can help you increase your sales in China. In this blog post, we’ll take a closer look at what Taobao Live is and how you can make the most of it to grow your business.

A Brief History of Taobao

Taobao was introduced back in 2003. By 2010, it captured 80% of the Chinese online market and is now considered the biggest C2C (consumer-to-consumer) retail app. Sellers can post and list their products free of charge. Plus, they even have the option to purchase add-on services, like advertisements to optimize the viewership and reach of their products. 

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While the app in itself is performing quite well, garnering trillions of dollars in sales every year, the founders found new opportunities to increase their profits and target more consumers. This is where Taobao Live comes into play. 

What Is Taobao Live?

Alibaba’s Taobao Live is a popular live streaming platform in China that’s seamlessly integrated within the Taobao app. 

taobao live from home page to taobao store

As part of the Taobao app, Taobao Live follows the same format of buying and selling products. The only difference is that this additional feature incorporates key opinion leaders, also known as KOLs or online influencers, to drive up sales. It combines video streaming, live engagements, and e-commerce to further enhance the consumers’ buying experience.

When Did Taobao Live Launch?

The story of Taobao Live dates back to 2015, the night before the mega 11.11 Shopping Festival hosted by Alibaba. During that year, Alibaba decided to create a countdown gala to celebrate this mega sale event. It became an all-around variety show that contained games and performances. Because this was Alibaba’s first-ever gala, it was broadcasted on television and on the Taobao app. 

There were segments where audiences watching could participate and play along to win prizes and make purchases live. Inspired by the success of this event, developers at Alibaba decided to leverage a similar shopping format to create new experiences.

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The new format that they developed centered on live sessions streamed on the mobile app, Taobao. By May 2016, the Taobao Live feature was launched.

Here, consumers can not only shop for the products that they want but they can also be entertained and educated about emerging trends and must-have items. 

Taobao Live Take Off

During the first few years after its launch, Taobao was mostly a place for KOLs to live stream. Usually, they would already have a solid follower base, which they use to promote products that they love. 

Every KOL fell under a certain category or niche, which targeted a specific demographic. For instance, there were KOLs for fashion and beauty products, KOLs for gaming and technology, and KOLs for home appliances and accessories. There is a key opinion leader for seemingly any product category you can think of — that’s one thing that makes Taobao Live so appealing. 

But as the platform continued to evolve over the years, more and more people joined the community. Celebrities all over the world tapped into the potential Chinese market. Not only that, brands saw this platform as an opportunity to grow and drive sales. 

The Success of Taobao Live

In 2020, the number of live streamers skyrocketed by a whopping 661%, wherein brand-run streams garnered 55% of viewership and influencers garnered the remaining 45%. At the time, this was already breaking news.

Due to this shift in behavior, brands believed that training sales employees to become live streamers was the next big move. As they implemented this strategy, the success of Taobao live streaming only grew, receiving a 150% annual increase in daily viewers, loyal users, and live stream sessions every year. 

What Are the Key Features of Taobao Live?

If you want to seize this opportunity and maximize the full potential of Taobao Live, there are a few key features to utilize: 

Live Chat Livestream Technology for Seamless Customer Support

To provide more fan engagement, Taobao Live integrated a live chat live stream technology that allows viewers of Taobao Live sessions to comment, react, and ask questions to the streamers they follow. The streamers in turn can read, react, and provide answers to the comments. In doing so, this tool allows the streamer and watcher to chat, interact, and give real-time feedback, which a regular commerce platform does not provide. 

While this feature may seem like another form of engagement, it serves a greater purpose than that. It enables you — the seller — to provide seamless customer support to your potential buyers in a more personalized manner. As a result, you can build stronger relationships and increase your loyal user base to drive your sales.

Real-Time Order Tracking

Once you encourage the user to purchase the item you’re promoting, the next step is for them to add the product to their cart. After the buyer checks out, they can easily track their product through the app.

Although every e-commerce platform has a tracking feature, Taobao takes it one step further by optimizing the experience. All the user has to do is click the “tracking” button and they will be redirected to a digital map showing the exact location of their parcel. As they scroll down, they can see a clear timeline of when and where the package has been and what date it will be delivered.

The tracking information is real-time, so it’s constantly updated to keep customers in the loop of the status of their package. The smoothness and reliability of this feature are things that every brand needs to take advantage of. 

Seller Rating System and Authentic Customer Reviews

Brands only have good things to say about their own products, and consumers often won’t trust what an employee has to say about something. Their opinion is one-sided. That’s why Taobao integrated a seller rating system for customers to share their shopping experiences. 

The rating system consists of three primary metrics:

  • Description: This refers to how similar the product description is to the actual product.
  • Service: This refers to the service quality of the brand.
  • Logistics: This refers to the service and speed of shipping.

The rating system ranges from one to five, with five being the highest possible score. The score is based on the brand’s overall performance and authentic customer feedback. The better your score, the more likely you are to convince customers to buy from your brand. 

Platform Tools To Promote Long-Term Engagement

More than just a live streaming and selling platform, Alibaba’s Taobao Live is also a destination where people can play games, win prizes, and increase their customer engagement. 

Due to innovative technologies, Taobao Live constantly introduces new platform tools to further connect your brand to your consumers. Some of the notable innovations include:

See Now, Buy Now

In 2017, they launched their first “See Now, Buy Now” fashion show where Chinese consumers can watch a real fashion show live on their screens and instantly buy the clothes they see. 

With every model that walks the runway, a pop-up banner will appear on their screens. When watchers click on it, Taobao will direct them to the brand’s flagship store page immediately so they can complete their purchase. This new format for viewing and shopping became so successful that Alibaba continued to follow the same structure in the following years. 

Red Packets – Hongbao

Besides the “See Now, Buy Now” approach, there are also other tools on the platform that many brands and live streamers use to drive up sales. One of which is the red packet. 

During a live stream, your brand-run live streams can give out red pockets to excite and incentivize viewers to shop for the products you promote. Of course, this became a total hit among Taobao users to the point where the red packet continues to be a powerful marketing tactic to promote spending and increase business profit.

AI Livestream Hosts

Alibaba also created an AI live streaming host so you can engage with your customers and answer their questions even during off-peak hours. You can even create your own avatar and customize your background to fit your brand image and enhance the live stream experience. 

Once you’re happy with what you have, you can schedule your AI live streams conveniently. Tap into potential Chinese consumers day and night with this advantageous tool.

How Does Live Commerce Push Sales?

Through all this and more, it’s clear to see how e-commerce can push sales to a whole new level. With continuous technological advancements, Taobao Live offers incredible opportunities for brands to engage with their customers and promote their products. 

Because of this, Taobao Live becomes a platform full of possibilities. Tech brands can use the live streaming feature to broadcast new flagship phones. Chefs and food entrepreneurs can use the platform to share cooking tutorials and new recipes that consumers can try at home. Retail brands can have a curated fashion show of their latest collection to demonstrate the look and feel of the clothes in real-time. There’s virtually no barrier to creativity and unlimited access to imagination on Taobao Live.

With brand-run live streams, you can use online and offline resources to increase your daily active users, create unique experiences, and drive up overall live stream sales. 

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