Amazon launches live shopping in India • TechCrunch

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Amazon has launched QVC-style live shopping in India, expanding its offerings in the key overseas market where it has deployed more than $6.5 billion to win customers.

On Friday, the retail group rolled out the new service, called Amazon Live, bringing together an army of more than 150 creators to host live streams and plug products into videos. The idea is that influencers, with already large audiences, will drive their fans to the shopping app and entice them to purchase products. They get a discount every time they are able to make a sale.

Amazon Live currently hosts live streams in several categories including electronics, fashion and beauty, and home decor on the app. Videos averaged 30-600 concurrent views at the time of publication. The company says it will air 15 live streams a day between 10 a.m. and 1 a.m.

The launch follows Flipkart, owned by Walmart, Amazon’s main rival in India, also testing a similar offering on its app earlier this year. Amazon itself quietly launched Live in the US in 2019, trying to get a slice of a burgeoning shopping trend made popular by YouTube, TikTok and Instagram.

Live shopping originally gained traction in China, where many influencers routinely sell items worth millions of dollars in a single show. Austin Li, a popular influencer, sells over $1 billion worth of merchandise in one session.

But whether the model will work in India remains a big question.

Meanwhile, New Delhi is preparing to tighten rules to stamp out fake and paid product reviews on e-commerce sites and social media platforms. A framework of regulations targeting those who approve goods will soon be released, the government has announced.

Amazon Live section on Indian shopping app. Image credits: TechCrunch

On an FAQ page, Amazon identified the influencer program as an extension of its Amazon Associates (affiliate) program. The company requires these influencers to have a YouTube, Instagram, TikTok or Facebook account to qualify.

Amazon lags Flipkart in India on several key metrics and is struggling to break into smaller Indian cities, according to a recent report by investment firm Sanford C. Bernstein. Amazon has so far offered “a weaker proposition in ‘new’ commerce” in the country, the report added, highlighting innovations from Flipkart and unicorn social commerce platforms Meesho and DealShare.

The stake is one of the last great growth markets in the world. E-commerce spending in India, the world’s second largest internet market, is expected to double to over $130 billion by 2025.

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