Livestream commerce booms

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Livestreaming jobs are forecast to boom this year as the pandemic continues to stimulate the demand for online shopping. However, the trend is also putting the government on edge as it seeks suitable management modes.
livestream commerce booms
Many Vietnamese sellers have been discovering the advantages of livestream-based e-commerce. Photo: Vien Thong

Yen Thu, a 35-year-old clothes vendor in Cau Giay district of Hanoi, told VIR that her sales have increased significantly thanks to taking advantage of livestreaming to sell goods.

“I started working this way last year and during the initial months, sales remained the same,” said Thu. “However, as the pandemic worsened, revenues suddenly skyrocketed, even by 200 per cent on-month. Although the growth rate is no longer enormous, it is still much larger than before using livestreaming, about 40 per cent monthly.”

Thu’s case is one of many that are keen on utilising the function to boost their business. As of the end of last year, Vietnam on average saw about 2.5 million livestream sessions per month – including 70,000-80,000 daily on Facebook and 2,000-3000 on e-commerce platforms with the involvement of more than 50,000 vendors across the country, according to Go-Stream, a local startup specialised in livestream solutions.

Growing as industry

Since late last year many forecasts show that livestreams will not stop as a trend of online selling, but will soon become a full-scale industry in Vietnam.

Brands Vietnam estimated that the country’s livestream market reached $20 million in 2018 – an impressive figure for a model initially appearing in the nation. As the number of livestreamers has continued growing, scale has also expanded greatly, and now a billion-dollar sector similar to China in the next few years is predicted.

Speaking at a workshop about e-commerce in January, Nguyen Hoa Binh, chairman of Nextech Group, said that as livestream has become a successful industry in China, it is likely that Vietnam will follow suit.

“From previous trends, we can see those that take place in China commonly take place in Vietnam and the rest of Southeast Asia in the following two or three years,” said Binh.

That is also the reason behind the group having launched its livestreaming skill training institution named NextOn in January. Along with Nextech, dozens of companies such as Tiki and MOA Vietnam have enhanced promotion of similar courses from last year.

In the 1.4-billion population market of China, livestreams have been a core part of online selling, and become an inevitable skill that most retailers in the country demand from their staff members.

In particular, in May last year the country’s Ministry of Labour and Social Security listed livestream selling in the top 10 new sectors generated by Industry 4.0.

As of the end of 2020, China saw about 600 million people purchasing goods after watching livestreams, and 250 million vendors or 16 per cent of the country’s population are running their business like that.

As the pandemic grew more serious last year, livestreaming became a lifebuoy for all corners of Chinese society. leaders of local authorities, billionaire Jack Ma, small- and medium-sized enterprises, and even farmers have used livestreaming services.

Livestreaming is also set to become the future of e-commerce in the United States, according to Bloomberg. It mentions that

Americans currently lag behind the Chinese in using livestreams to perform e-commerce transactions, as reflected by Amazon, Facebook, and Instagram launching platforms supporting the feature at a later date.

Angling for management codes

“Laws have never kept pace with the flourishing of new economic models,” Toh See Kiat, chairman of Singapore-based Goodwins Law Corporation, explained to VIR.

Making queries about issuing appropriate legal frameworks to supervise fresh sectors, Vietnamese policymakers are figuring out ways to supervise livestreaming activities more effectively.

Local market regulators last year inspected dozens of cases of trading fake, counterfeit, and smuggled goods through livestreaming. Most notably, local authorities discovered a warehouse selling smuggled items in the northern province of Lao Cai – over two years, five people working there gained VND649 billion ($28.2 million).

After this, the Market Surveillance Agency recommended that people should be careful in buying goods from watching livestreams. In comparison with websites or vendors displayed on e-commerce platforms, the potential risk of getting low-quality items due to livestreaming is currently much higher.

According to Truong Van Quy, CEO of digital skills training group EQVN, it would be complex for third parties to be able to supervise or censor streaming activities because of the live nature of them. “Thereby, objects trading fake and low-quality are perfectly able to take advantage of this to seek profit themselves,” Quy said.

Along with the quality of goods, charging full taxes from selling activities has been tough for local authorities. Unlike websites with full domain names, local authorities face more troubles in supervising livestreamers because the services used do not require identification.

“Furthermore the profit margin from livestreaming can be huge, so it is hard to calculate the appropriate tax rate,” Quy added.

By Van Anh

Nguồn: Vietnam Investment Review

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