Chinese online shoppers watching livestream e-commerce sessions purchased more expensive items compared with conventional e-commerce buyers, according to a recent report which assessed data during the Covid-19 outbreak. 

Why it matters: Livestream online buying is becoming an obsession for the quarantined millions in China, where sellers are finding real-time engagement an efficient, effective tool to push products.

  • China’s online live-streaming industry boasted a user base of 504 million in 2019, a 10.6% year-on-year increase from a year earlier. It is estimated that the figure will reach 526 million in 2020, data (in Chinese) from Iimedia Research showed.
  • For big-ticket purchases like real estate and cars, the offline experience is still essential. However, livestreams may prove useful as a channel to maintain ties with potential buyers.
Taobao user spending in RMB through livestream (yellow) and conventional (gray) e-commerce. (Image credit: Quest Mobile)

Details: Buyers who purchase via livestreams on online marketplaces like Taobao and video platforms like Douyin are more likely to purchase higher-ticket items, particularly those priced higher than RMB 1,000, according to a Quest Mobile report published on Tuesday.

  • A substantial 60% to 80% of the purchases made through livestreams on video platforms Douyin, Kuaishou, and Bilibili exceeded RMB 200 ($28) during the week of Feb. 17 to 23. More than 40% of these orders fell between RMB 200 to RMB 1,000 and an average between platforms of more than 20% exceeded RMB 1,000 in the same period, the report showed.
  • Nearly 50% of orders through Alibaba’s livestreaming unit Taobao Live during the same time period fell between RMB 200 to RMB 1,000, while 37% of the orders exceeded RMB 1,000.
  • The conversion rate for Taobao Live users was around 56% during the same week, higher than the 50% seen with regular buyers.
  • Livestream business accounted for 28% of Douyin’s total traffic during the same week, up from 24% during the week of Jan. 6 to 12. Meanwhile, the proportion of livestream traffic on Kuaishou has remained stable at around 50% since the beginning of this year.
  • Livestream user time spent on major platforms Douyin, Kuaishou, and Bilibili ranged from 120 to 190 minutes per day during the week of Feb. 17 to 23, far longer than 52 to 109 minutes for viewers of other video content.
  • Unsurprisingly, Chinese netizens spent far more time in cyberspace while sequestered indoors. The average time spend online per day surged to 446 minutes during the week of Feb 17 to 23 from 367 minutes during Jan. 6 to 12, a 21.5% jump.

Context: Driven by the outbreak, livestreaming is rapidly expanding from standard categories such as cosmetics to new areas like cars, real estate, and more.

  • Alibaba doubled down on livestream e-commerce in 2019 when it launched support plans for merchants and livestreamers.

Updated: added chart.

Emma Lee (Li Xin) was TechNode's e-commerce and new retail reporter until June 2022, when she moved to Sixth Tone to cover technology and consumption. Get in touch with her via or Twitter.

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