Alibaba Cloud on Tuesday unveiled a new service to help global online merchants set up their livestreaming platforms. The e-commerce giant was one of the first to popularize livestream shopping.

Why it matters: China is leading the trend in livestream shopping. Alibaba, a leader in the sector, wants to capitalize on its expertise as the model gains popularity outside of China.

  • Livestream shopping took off in China in 2019. By the end of 2020, the model quickly attracted 388 million shoppers, more than a third of China’s 989 million internet users.

READ MORE: Insight: How e-commerce and livestreaming became frenemies

Details: Alibaba Cloud now offers a paid service to global merchants hoping to build livestream shopping platforms of their own, the company announced at the virtual Alibaba Cloud Summit 2021 on Tuesday.

  • The company said it plans to leverage its livestreaming technologies, including “distributed real-time video processing technology” and “uninterrupted signal transfer,” to help customers cut down delay time during virtual sales sessions, it said in a statement emailed to TechNode.
  • The service also offers replays of livestreams, livestreaming applications and user interfaces, real time subtitle translation for cross-border livestream, among others.
  • In a separate press release, the company said it will invest $1 billion to support startups and train new technical talents in the Asia-Pacific region over the next three years.

Context: Alibaba’s cloud computing subsidiary is supporting the new service. Alibaba Cloud, once a reliable growth engine for the company, needs new growth areas. The unit’s revenue for the March quarter increased 37% year on year, the slowest pace since 2014. The loss of a major “top-class customer,” reportedly Tiktok, is the main reason for slowed growth in the quarter.

  • The Chinese e-commerce giant is trying to export its success in livestream commerce to other parts of the world.
  • 388 million Chinese shoppers bought products through livestreams as of December 2020, a report by state-backed research agency CNNIC shows. The figure represents 39% of China’s 989 million netizens.
  • According to a report by China Consumers Association, Alibaba’s Taobao Live takes the lion’s share of the market, representing 69% of all livestreaming shoppers in China.
  • Outside of China, other retail giants are starting to invest in livestream shopping. Walmart partnered with TikTok last December to have the first pilot test of livestream shopping experience in the US on the video platform.
  • In 2019, Amazon launched its live platform, which allows influencers to promote items and chat with potential customers.

Emma Lee

Emma Lee is Shanghai-based tech writer, covering startups and tech happenings in China and Asia in general. We are looking for stories related to tech and China. Reach her at lixin@technode.com.