TikTok taps into e-commerce with live shopping launch

Here is the marketplace news that captured our attention this week.

TikTok taps into e-commerce with UK live shopping launch

TikTok launched its first live shopping and entertainment event last week, where people could buy products directly on the platform, tapping into the rise of “social shopping”.

Known for its short lip sync and comedy videos, the video-sharing platforms is jumping into e-commerce, and has specifically chosen the e-commerce space to do it.

The event called ‘On Trend’ was described by TikTok as a unique shopping event which featured offers and exclusive discounts by beauty and tech brands like Charlotte Tilbury, L’Oréal Paris and Nutri Bullet., plus entertainment from popular creators, entertainers and musicians.

“People who have a shared interest or a shared love for a creator or a product area, these communities come together and make the experience of finding and enjoying those products more interesting,” Waterworth said.

It looks to bring together community and brands, and its billion monthly global users has huge potential.

Tambo's View:

This is a significant moment. E-commerce is a big opportunity for TikTok and this move solidifies the rise of social commerce. New spending and shopping habits were created during the pandemic, and in turn, businesses have had to go online to capture shoppers in spaces and ways they had never thought of doing before.

Amazon to shut down Alexa service

Before Amazon's Alexa became known as the e-commerce giant's voice assistant, it was the name of the company's web ranking site.

It was established in 1996 and became famous sometime ago for analysing web traffic and listing the most popular websites around the world.

The service also offers paid subscriptions for those who want detailed SEO analytics and insights. Now, Amazon has announced that it's retiring Alexa.com on May 1st, 2022, just a month after it celebrates its 26th anniversary.

In its announcement, the company said: "Twenty-five years ago, we founded Alexa Internet. After two decades of helping you find, reach, and convert your digital audience, we’ve made the difficult decision to retire Alexa.com on May 1, 2022. Thank you for making us your go-to resource for content research, competitive analysis, keyword research, and so much more."

While Amazon didn't explicitly say why it's shutting down the service, Alexa Internet's traffic has been on the decline over the past decade based on data from Semrush, as Bleeping Computer notes. It's also been a while since anybody's been concerned about their Alexa ranking, so Amazon may have decided it was time to bid it farewell.

The e-commerce giant has already stopped accepting new subscriptions for Alexa's paid tier, but current subscribers will be able to access their account until May 1st, 2022. They'll lose access after that date, but they'll be able to export their data from the service's various tools if they wish.

Tambo’s View:

Amazon has never been shy about shelving products or offerings that weren't performing well and is cutting its losses with Alexa after a steady decline in traffic to its site. While Amazon hasn't announced any plans for Alexa.com, it would not be surprising if they began using it for the virtual assistant as the digital assistant is still alive and well.

Pakistan e-commerce platform Daraz aims to beef up

Pakistan's largest e-commerce retail platform Daraz aims to host up to 300,000 small to medium enterprises in two years as the firm seeks to bolster its position in its home market in the face of potential competition from global giant Amazon.

E-commerce growth in the country of 220 million is yet to take off fully, like in neighbouring India where the market features retail heavyweights such as Amazon and Walmart and large local platforms run by India's Reliance and Tata groups.

Daraz, founded in 2012 in Pakistan and acquired by Chinese giant Alibaba in 2018, has 100,000 SMEs in Pakistan on its platform.

"We want to get to 300,000 active and educated SMEs selling on our platform within the next two years, and that will basically create a million jobs," said CEO Bjarke Mikkelsen.

Pakistan's rapidly growing middle class, over 60% youth population and broadband subscriptions of over 100 million, makes it a lucrative destination for e-commerce platforms.

Amazon announced earlier this year that it will allow Pakistani entrepreneurs to sell products on its marketplace.

Before the interview, Mikkelsen met Prime Minister Imran Khan and his finance and investment teams to discuss coordination on free zones where tech companies would get special incentives to flourish, and an e-commerce university Khan said Pakistan will be opening.

Daraz operates in four other South Asian nations - Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal and Mayanmar - with access to 500 million customers with a team of 10,000 employees. It has invested $100 million in Pakistan and Bangladesh over the last two years, Mikkelsen said.

It is targeting sales this year of nearly $1 billion through its platform, having seen 100% order growth year-on-year in the last four years, he said.

The e-commerce sector in Pakistan grew over 35% in value in the first quarter of 2021 to 96 billion Pakistani rupees ($548.89 million) compared to 71 billion ($405.95 million) over the same period of last year, according to commerce ministry data.

Out of the 70 million users who visited the Daraz website last month, 35 million were from Pakistan. Mikkelsen said Pakistan was seeing more people now ready to use digital services.

He added that e-commerce in the South Asian nations where Daraz operates was only 2% of the retail market, which could be scaled up 10 to 20 times.

Tambo’s View:

Pakistan's economy is ripe for online marketplaces evidenced by start-ups like Daraz. However, the success of Pakistan's e-commerce industry depends on logistics and timely deliveries, a secure online payment system, a regulatory framework as well as ensuring that shoddy or counterfeit goods are excluded from the market as these do not give confidence to the system.