Live-stream e-commerce is huge in China already, with data putting the value of the market at €56 billion in 2019 with that figure expected to double in 2020. In China, Huawei says there are almost 100 live-streams every month across its own channels, and outside of China, live-stream e-commerce is growing rapidly across regions around the world.
If you're unfamiliar with live-stream e-commerce, think home shopping network style experiences hosted as live-streams by influencers with interactive games, giveaways, and shopping opportunities.
In the Huawei Developer Webinar, Huawei looked at the technical difficulties faced by live-stream e-commerce productions, from complicated setups for high quality streams, to the challenges of designing physical studios and backdrops for hosts, to the need to deliver fast, smooth streams over the internet. Addressing these issues, the company announced upgrades to Huawei Mobile Services (HMS) solutions, its equivalent to Google's Mobile Services, which it has touted will enable higher quality streaming options for businesses and live-streamers.
In the latest updates, Huawei smartphones will be able to wirelessly connect to a third-party action camera or panorama camera to produce multi-angle live-streams. The updates will also enable real-time virtual digital backdrops for live-streams to give hosts more options for how they wish to present in the physical space that is available to them.
Finally, Huawei says it is leaning on its expertise in cellular networks, Wi-Fi, and 5G technology to improve stream quality. According to the company, this entails shifting networks if the current network option is not performing well, or using predictive modelling of network quality to make such choices before a problem appears. With frozen images and other interruptions seen as a major impediment to engagement quality for live-streams, this is seen to have great potential for improving user experience.
The event also featured leaders from some of the most successful live-stream e-commerce platforms in the Asia Pacific region, including LiveMe and Kumu, who have been partnering with Huawei to test the new technology and the integration and partnership opportunities on the Huawei App Gallery. Kumu CEO Roland Ros said he has seen better revenues from working with Huawei App Gallery than from Kumu's presence on Google Play.
While live-stream e-commerce is still relatively small in Western markets, it makes sense that this new media format holds a lot of potential as the pandemic continues to impact the world. Having more opportunities to see live hands-on demonstrations of interesting products provides a more personal online shopping experience when compared to traditional static guides and storefronts. Huawei's research also suggests conversion rates are higher for shopping across beauty, fashion, and electronics categories than in traditional online shopping formats.
Huawei closed the event by launching a new partner program for businesses that are eager to explore new live-stream e-commerce opportunities through the Huawei App Gallery platform. The format might be biggest in China, but it seems Huawei is eager to take its lessons from China and apply them into the wider global market as quickly as possible.