Amazon has launched a QVC-style livestream shopping in India, broadening its offerings in the key overseas market where it has deployed over $6.5 billion to win customers.
The retail group on Friday rolled out the new service, called Amazon Live, bringing an army of over 150 creators to host livestreams and plug products in the videos. The idea is, influencers, with already a large following, will drive their fans to the shopping app and influence them into buying products. They get a cut each time they are able to make a sale.
Amazon Live is currently hosting livestreams across several categories including electronics, fashion and beauty, and home decor on the app. The videos were averaging 30 to 600 simultaneous views at the time of publication. The company says it will run 15 livestreams a day between 10 am to 1 am.
The launch follows Walmart-owned Flipkart, Amazon’s chief rival in India, also testing a similar offering on its app early this year. Amazon itself quietly launched Live in the US in 2019, trying to get a slice of a nascent shopping trend made popular by YouTube, TikTok and Instagram.
Live shopping originally gained traction in China, where many influencers consistently sold items worth millions of dollars in a single broadcast. Austin Li, a popular influencer, sells more than $1 billion worth of goods in a session.
But whether the model will work in India remains a big question.
In the meanwhile, New Delhi is preparing to tighten rules to root out fake and paid reviews of products on e-commerce websites and social media platforms. A framework of regulations targeting people who endorse merchandise will soon be released, the government has said.
On an FAQ page, Amazon has identified the influencer program as an extension of its Amazon Associates (affiliate) program. The company requires these influencers to have an account with YouTube, Instagram, TikTok or Facebook to qualify.
Amazon is lagging Flipkart in India on several key metrics and struggling to make inroads in smaller Indian cities and towns, according to a recent report by investment firm Sanford C. Bernstein. Amazon has so far offered “a weaker proposition in ‘new’ commerce” in the country, the report added, pointing to innovations by Flipkart and unicorn social commerce platforms Meesho and DealShare.
At stake is one of the world’s last great growth markets. The e-commerce spending in India, the world’s second largest internet market, is expected to double in size to over $130 billion by 2025.