Alibaba, the worlds’ biggest online commerce company and one of the pioneers of shoppable videos in China, have announced plans to recruit and train 100,000 influencers to promote AliExpress through YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and other internet platforms.
In a move designed to capitalise on the changing e-commerce landscape, they told TechCrunch – “Live shopping is still in its relative infancy in the overseas consumer market. Our initiative will help propel the overseas ecosystem forward.”
The outreach for talent comes at a time when millions around the world have lost their jobs, and is welcome news for the burgeoning influencer industry. Globally, we’ve seen an increase in social media use due to the pandemic, and brands and marketers have responded by rapidly updating digital commerce experiences to capitalise on shifting consumer behaviours.
The lines between marketing and commerce have blurred and a recent report from Kantar predicts that e-commerce will further outperform retail in the year ahead. 32% of households said they had increased or significantly increased their e-commerce spend in the pandemic period and 33% believe their future online purchases will increase. This increases to 40% for the sustainability conscious shopper and 45% of households with children. Around 80% of households say they will shop for non-essentials online in 2020. The biggest categories are clothing and home electronics, where 50% to 60% state they plan to purchase online in 2020.
Prior to Covid-19, social media was already ‘dominating’ digital ad spend as both B2C and B2B brands invested in channels where they could reach influencers and customers more easily. What we’ve witnessed in recent months is social commerce getting a shot in the arm, with YouTube, Snapchat, TikTok and Instagram (the platforms of choice for Gen Z and Millennials) becoming increasingly transactional.
The ability to touch and try on a product before purchase seems to be less and less of a concern. What matters to Gen Z and Millennials is brand reputation, social media presence and the convenience that their one-click purchase on Amazon or Instagram offers.
It’s an interesting move, one that harnesses the power of influencer advocacy and turns it into a marketing squad on steroids. One thing is clear, social commerce is here to stay and brands that don’t adapt to the cultural and consumer changes afoot will be left behind.