International Influencer Livestreaming: AliExpress Builds a Global Resource Platform

In this post, Nimdzi’s Morgan Gallup Zhu interviews Joy Chang, Senior Business Development Specialist at AliExpress to talk about the e-commerce giant’s approach to livestreaming, and how they built a platform to connect sellers and content creators to leverage the power of influencer marketing to reach millions of people across the globe. 

The growth in Asia is increasingly contributing to shaping international business trends. Asia is often talked about as the home of the next billion consumers, with markets such as China and India offering great opportunities for global e-commerce. Not only that, Asian companies are some of the most innovative around, and are now starting to export their technology and best practices worldwide. Nimdzi is keeping the pulse on what is going on in this part of the world, talking to regional specialists about the up-and-coming trends and companies to watch out for.
International Influencer Livestreaming: AliExpress Builds a Global Resource Platform

What’s happening currently with livestreaming at AliExpress?

Over the past few years we’ve seen livestreaming and influencers become very successful on Taobao in China. AliExpress started livestreaming in 2017, and in the past year we’ve started seeing livestreaming become more and more popular in our key buyer countries such as Russia, France, Spain, and Poland.

About two to three years ago, most of the livestreams on AliExpress were Chinese sellers doing livestreaming from their own warehouses in English. However, we know that to interact with buyers and convert them more effectively we also need people who can conduct livestreams locally in local languages. Now we have local operations teams who work with in-country agencies that hire livestreamers around the world to do live shows.  

Right now we’re facilitating this form of social e-commerce as a platform and investing in helping sellers find and train livestreamers. Once our global ecosystem of sellers, agencies, and livestreamers is fully built out, and more and more people know how to use livestreaming to attract buyers and sell, the business model will run without much effort on our end. We’ve already started to see this happening. 

We’ve also launched a platform called AE Connect, which is a platform to connect sellers, influencers, and content creators worldwide. It’s not only for livestreaming but other influencer marketing functions as well. So, if a Chinese or Turkish seller needs to find a livestreamer in Spain or Russia, for example, they can put the tasks on the platform, and agencies and influencers themselves can bid on them.

Quite a few experts and news outlets are predicting that livestreaming will not take off globally because it’s too far removed from consumers’ current habits, but what are you seeing at AliExpress?

If you try to get people to watch a live show on other social media platforms, they may do so just to kill time, and your efforts are likely to be fruitless. But if a consumer is already on AliExpress, they have the intention of buying something — and validating quality and building trust with a seller and their products is a big driver for people on e-commerce platforms.  

When you see someone demonstrating a product and showing you the quality of it close up from different angles and answering questions in real time that builds trust. 

I also don’t agree that livestreaming is too far removed from consumers’ current habits, as influencer marketing is not a new thing and the model works. The difference is that we’re giving out content to a buyer who’s closer to the decision-making stage. The buyer already intends to make a purchase, and we provide more information and make it interactive and fun. As time goes on, we’ve also seen some livestreamers who are not necessarily the biggest influencers on other social media platforms build up their fan base on AliExpress LIVE. Every time they do a live show, their fans tune in to see what they’re selling.

We’re also making product changes on AliExpress to really connect livestreaming to the products, so if you’re randomly browsing shoes and any of the shoes you’re looking at are being livestreamed, or have been livestreamed, you can click on the current livestream or the recording of the recent livestream to help you make a decision.

AliExpress Inluencer Livestreaming

How the AliExpress livestreaming platform looks. Source: AliExpress

Are some products better for livestreaming than others?

This really depends. First, you need to analyze and pick the right products for your target market. Then it becomes a question of a show’s production quality and the effectiveness and creativity of the hosts. During a live show you can essentially bring any type of product onto the screen and interact with buyers. For example, we have a host doing livestreaming for auto parts from a car and another host doing livestreaming for a traditional Persian instrument from a music shop while learning to play the instrument. We also have shows where the hosts take the buyers directly to the factories to see the products being made. We made livestreaming really easy on AliExpress. You don’t need a very professional setup to start. You can even livestream from your phone.

How do you select livestreamers in other countries?

Most of the time we find micro- to mid-tier influencers who are good at presenting products and have great energy. Mega influencers do help bring some traffic from their channel to AliExpress for live shows, and we do collaborate with them from time to time, but we’ve seen that the size of your following doesn’t necessarily drive the most conversions. 

If you’re really good at interacting with the audience that’s what’s important. Some livestreamers create fun games to promote products and become experts in shopping and selling on AliExpress. Those shows normally have higher conversion versus someone with lots of followers who doesn’t know how to interact with buyers and answer questions.

We’ve found that livestreaming training is very important to help the host learn how to answer questions, interact, and present. It’s not easy for marketing agencies to find good resources in many countries because the way we do livestreaming is totally new to them.

China has had great success with livestreaming. How do you leverage best practices from China elsewhere?

We have a team at AliExpress that provides general training materials and guides, but it also depends a lot on the livestreamers themselves. They have to be creative and willing to find their own way. It’s not like we can give them a guidebook for them to all do the same thing. Each livestreamer needs to be authentic, and the audience is different in each target market.

For example, some professional hosts will shoot product videos beforehand showing how to style the products. They will find great places to film the products and play the videos during the shows.

Are all the livestreams done on AliExpress?

The livestreaming is done on AliExpress’s platform. When you click into a livestream, you can see the products right away and are able to go to the store immediately. The livestream is embedded with the products and the store because it’s very sales driven. Buyers can also get exclusive coupons directly from the show and apply them right away. 

Have you seen a big increase in people watching livestreaming because of the pandemic?

I wouldn’t say that it’s only because of the pandemic, but there are both more and more livestreams and livestream views on AliExpress.

Have you had any sellers outside China do livestreaming?

I work with Turkish sellers and they are actually trying livestreaming as well. So, livestreaming doesn’t just help Chinese sellers, it also helps Turkish sellers sell to other countries such as Russia, Spain, and France.

Do you think this is an opportunity for partners who are not marketing agencies? Do you think localization and translation agencies should bid on these types of projects, for example?

Merchants want to sell to different countries and, while influencer agencies are able to connect them to influencers, there is also an opportunity for localization agencies that have resources in different countries to provide the training for them.  

Partners need to be willing and able to learn the e-commerce systems we use. AliExpress livestreaming is not like most other video platforms where you can just go and present a product and post links. For AliExpress livestreams you need to create the livestream on the platform. Then you need to connect to the products, get the IDs, and relay the products into the livestream during the live show. Whenever the livestreamer is talking about a product, you need to click on a product for the product to show on top of the livestream and to monitor the comments and send any important information to the presenter.

If content creators are interested in this, they can sign up for AliExpress connect at https://connect.AliExpress.com/. They can sign up as an individual or as an agency.

Special thanks to Joy Chang, Senior Business Development Specialist at AliExpress for sharing the lessons AliExpress learned in building a global resource platform for livestreamers.

This interview was conducted by Nimdzi's Consultant, Morgan Gallup Zhu. If you wish to learn more, feel free to contact Morgan at [email protected].

30 November 2020

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