Taobao doubles down on livestreaming with ambitious Taobao Live plan

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A livestreamer pitching shoes to her online audience at the Taobao Maker Festival in 2018 (Image credit: TechNode/Emma Lee).

Chinese online marketplace Taobao will drastically expand its live-streaming operations this year as a new driver for e-commerce growth.

Taobao Live, the live-streaming unit of its consumer-to-consumer (C2C) platform, is aiming to expand its business in 2019 to 10 product categories with annual sales volume of more than RMB 100 million (around $15 million) each and 200 Taobao live-stream virtual shopping rooms with an annual transaction value of RMB 100 million each, Wen Zhong, director of Taobao’s content e-commerce department, announced at the Taobao Live Gala held on Saturday in Hangzhou.

The company also introduced a series of goals in line with the broader initiative at the event. To create a talent pool, Taobao Live launched a live-streamer program to provide professional training for up to 1,000 livestreamers across multiple platforms and areas. The goal for the program in 2019 is to produce 10 content creators with their own shows that generate annual sales volume of RMB 100 million each in partnership with 100 regional television stations, according to the company.

“Taobao Live could be an important tool to connect new retail and new manufacturing. Livestream-enabled e-commerce… helps to integrate traditional offline shopping malls to Taobao ecosystem,” (our translation) said Zhao Yuanyuan, operating head of Taobao Live, to media at the event.

Although livestreaming is slowing in China, there has been increasing uptake for the technology as a new marketing channel for e-commerce. On Taobao, a leader in the trend, e-commerce livestreaming generated sales volume of RMB 100 billion in 2018, growing nearly 400% year-on-year. Livestreaming is accelerating the e-commerce effect on traditional retail, bringing products from factories, farms, and brick-and-mortar stores online to Chinese consumers.