YouTube is going all-in on livestream ecommerce

Facing pressure from Apple’s privacy policy and Amazon’s retail dominance, Alphabet is making a push into ecommerce with YouTube “shoppable videos.”

China’s ecommerce game is on another level.

YouTube is going all-in on livestream ecommerce

In October, a Chinese internet celebrity known as “The Lipstick King” sold $1.7B (yes, billion) of beauty products during a 12-hour livestream (yes, 12 hours).

The broader industry — known as social commerce in China — notched $352B last year, per Bloomberg.

That’s ~10x the comparable American market

Now, YouTube wants to change that. As part of its push into ecommerce, the Google Alphabet-owned video platform launched Holiday Stream and Shop.

The weeklong event started on Monday and features internet celebs (MrBeast, Patrick Starrr) selling merch directly from YouTube.

The company plans to roll out the concept — called shoppable videos — to more users in coming weeks (conveniently, in time for the holidays).

YouTube’s existing business…

… is huge, with revenue in the latest quarter ($7.2B) nearly on par with Netflix ($7.4B).

The ecommerce play is a hedge against Alphabet’s Big Tech frenemies:

  • Apple: The iPhone maker’s new privacy policy restrictions impacted YouTube ad sales.
  • Amazon: It’s estimated that 63% of US customer product searches start on Amazon (not Google). Alphabet has teamed up with Square and Shopify in an “anti-Amazon alliance.”

Do American shoppers want livestream?

While QVC and The Home Shopping Network still make billions a year, tech companies haven’t cracked the code.

But with the prize so big, the field is crowded with Facebook, Snapchat, and TikTok all launching livestream products.

Right now, YouTube’s shoppable videos will only sell beauty and tech products. We’re waiting for the day we can crown someone “The Sauce King” after they sell $2B of mustard on YouTube in 12 hours.

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