The role of live commerce in the context of cross-border trade

Wednesday 21 February 2024 09:32 CET | Editor: Diana Lupuleac | Interview

Li-Xiong Chu, Account Director at Maximum Advertising Group, talks about the role of live commerce in the context of cross-border trade and examines its prospects.


The global ecommerce market is expected to reach a total of USD6.3 trillion in 2023. It is estimated to grow further over the next few years, a factor indicating that borderless ecommerce is becoming an increasingly important option for retailers. By 2024, 21.2% of total retail sales will happen online.

Live commerce started in 2016, with the launch of Alibaba’s Taobao Live, and has become mainstream in China. It is becoming more and more popular in other important markets, such as the US and Europe. Live commerce in cross-border commerce is marked by technological advancements, enhanced personalisation, global collaborations, and a focus on sustainability.

It is important to realize that different markets are in different stages of development or implementation for these points, and the demographics of those engaging in live commerce also vary. As businesses try to adapt their strategies to these notions, the cross-border live commerce landscape is expected to evolve into a more interconnected, personalised, and dynamic ecosystem, providing new opportunities for international trade and consumer engagement.

As live commerce continues to gain momentum, what challenges do businesses face in adapting their strategies for cross-border ecommerce? Additionally, are there opportunities that arise for businesses in this process?

Live commerce will have to deal with similar struggles as cross-border ecommerce in general. Understanding and respecting cultural nuances that impact consumer expectations, diverse payment and transaction systems, currencies, and transaction regulations across borders can complicate the execution of live commerce transactions. Moreover, delivering products internationally involves complex logistics, potentially leading to delays, increased costs, or difficulties in meeting customer expectations. Complying with diverse regulations and legal frameworks in different countries is a complex task for businesses engaged in cross-border live commerce. Varied technological landscapes and internet accessibility levels in different regions may impact the delivery and quality of live commerce experiences. As a business, how adeptly can you adjust your strategies to overcome these challenges will largely affect your success in the future.

Tmall International and JD Global Purchase are ecommerce platforms for international brands to sell into the Chinese market that plan on providing a live streaming functionality to be implemented for direct selling campaigns. As these platforms operate in the China market, it is often managed by so-called certified Tmall (Trade) partners that also offer marketing and human resource services to help with implementing a live commerce strategy. With the gradual increase in the scale of the import cross-border ecommerce in China, the competition surrounding live streaming is similarly anticipated to surge.

In what ways does live commerce contribute to building trust and overcoming cultural barriers in cross-border transactions, and what implications does this carry for the future dynamics of global trade? 

This goes together with the challenges mentioned before. When we are talking about building trust and overcoming cultural barriers, live commerce can facilitate real-time interactions with direct communication and responsiveness, visual product demonstration, user-generated content and reviews, and customisation for local preferences. 

Viewing the world as a global marketplace means recognising it as a vast talent market for hiring the right people. Being able to attract and hire the right talents plays a vital role in overcoming trust and cultural barriers. For example, if you are focusing on expanding into the China market, you need to set up a suitable, dynamic team to facilitate that, people who can speak to the right audience. 

With the right people, you can enhance cross-cultural communications to increase accessibility and understand cultural sensitivities and expectations. Live commerce has the potential to revolutionise global trade dynamics by enhancing trust, overcoming cultural barriers, and creating a more personalised and inclusive online shopping experience. Businesses that leverage live commerce effectively and prioritise cultural understanding stand to benefit in the evolving landscape of cross-border transactions.

What technological advancements are expected to drive the future of live commerce in the context of cross-border transactions, and how might these innovations impact the global marketplace?

Virtual and augmented reality will play an increasingly important role for live-streaming platforms by providing new opportunities for brands to engage with audiences through virtual shopping assistance or showrooms. Moreover, incorporating advanced language translation tools powered by artificial intelligence (AI) can facilitate real-time translation during live commerce events. This can help overcome language barriers in cross-border transactions without the additional investments in human resources. Additionally, localisation tools can adapt content, promotions, and user interfaces to align with the cultural preferences of different regions. 

As various regions and markets work with different digital infrastructures, more integrations between live commerce and ecommerce platforms are to be expected. This will streamline the purchase experience by connecting live streams with product pages and offering integrated payment options for an optimised purchasing experience. 

Sustainability is becoming an increasingly significant concern, and technologies that support eco-friendly practices, such as carbon footprint tracking and sustainable sourcing, may play a role in shaping the future of live commerce. Businesses that prioritise sustainability can appeal to environmentally conscious consumers globally.  

Brands that incorporate these technologies into their live commerce strategies may provide a more engaging and memorable shopping experience, which can help them stand out in a crowded market. The future of live commerce in cross-border transactions will likely be shaped by a combination of technological advancements that enhance interactivity, personalisation, security, and efficiency.

Could you elaborate on the dynamics of social selling in China within the live commerce landscape? 

Social selling in China, particularly within the live commerce landscape, has unique dynamics that set it apart from practices in other regions. The integration of social media, ecommerce, and live streaming within the digital infrastructure has transformed the way businesses engage with consumers. As an extended functionality within social commerce, live shopping has become a mainstream strategy in China. The live commerce market in China reached a value of USD3.49 billion in 2021, with projections indicating an increase to USD 4.92 billion in 2023.

This editorial piece was first published in The Paypers' Cross-Border Payments and Ecommerce Report 2023–2024, which taps into the fast-growing cross-border market and provides a comprehensive overview of trends and developments that are pivotal in this space, being the ultimate source of information for ecommerce businesses interested in expanding globally.

About Li-Xiong Chu

Li-Xiong Chu is a Dutch-born Chinese proficient in English, Dutch, and Chinese. Through Chu Consulting, he advises companies on how to navigate the China market in this regard. He has a specific interest in talent acquisition, digital marketing, and ecommerce-related projects. In addition, he holds a permanent position as an Account Director at Maximum Advertising Group, focusing on employer branding in a global context.

About Maximum Advertising Group

Maximum Advertising Group  is a strategic employer branding agency that helps brands attract, hire, and retain people in the right places. Maximum is a marketing and design consultancy that specialises in navigating the global talent market by leveraging cultural nuances to best manage human capital and drive business strategy.

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Keywords: livestream shopping, ecommerce, cross-border ecommerce, social commerce, sustainability , artificial intelligence, digitalisation, online shopping, expansion
Categories: Payments & Commerce
Companies: Maximum Advertising Group
Countries: World
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