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Live commerce catches on as retailers focus on online shopping

Naver opens streaming studio for small businesses in latest boost for live commerce

A butcher at the Lotte Department Store in Daegu displays meat during a live commerce show while chatting to viewers on Dec. 29, 2020. (Yonhap)
A butcher at the Lotte Department Store in Daegu displays meat during a live commerce show while chatting to viewers on Dec. 29, 2020. (Yonhap)
South Korean retailers are rushing to tap the emerging new trend of live commerce, which combines streaming and e-commerce.

Hyundai Home Shopping said on Monday it aims to reach 100 billion won ($90.5 million) in sales from its live commerce channel this year, after their latest data showed sales jumped fivefold last year.

Sales generated from the company’s live commerce business in 2020 reached 28.5 billion won, up nearly 500 percent from 5 billion won in 2019, according to their latest data. A total of 25 million viewers tuned in last year, the company added.

“We began preemptively strengthening our competitiveness for the live commerce business, which we saw as the new growth engine around 2018 when the ‘untact’ trend began to catch on among millennials and Generation Z who are more mobile friendly,” said one official at the company.

Though off to a later start than countries like China, Korea’s appetite for live e-commerce is increasingly growing as retailers rush to adopt the latest tactic to boost online sales amid the pandemic.

In another sign of the growing popularity of live commerce, Naver opened a studio for small and medium-sized enterprises to stream live shopping shows at its Partner Square in Jongno District, Seoul, the company said on Monday.

Boasting 11 rooms, the latest smartphones, lights and screens, the studio will also have a counselor who can give advice about broadcasting on Naver’s live commerce platform Shopping Live.

“There have been a growing number of inquiries about training programs on Shopping Live. The interest among small and medium-sized business owners is growing too,” said Yoo Hee-soo, the manager of Naver Partner Square in Jongno.

Earlier this month, the South Korean internet giant said it had raked up 100 million viewers within the first six months since the service launched in August last year.

In December alone, transactions on Shopping Live reached 20 billion won, the company said.

The number of sellers has also increased sevenfold while the number of live shows has reached 20,000 as of January.

“As long as you have a smartphone, you can do live commerce shows without being restricted by space, time or expenses,” the company explained of its Shopping Live’s appeal.

Lotte Duty Free will also begin live commerce shows next month to sell luxury items which have been on sale at its shops for some time with plans to extend its service to shoppers abroad.

“As the contactless economy has emerged due to COVID-19, a live-commerce approach is indispensable to the duty-free shopping industry,” CEO Lee Kap said in a statement.

Last year, the Korea Customs Service began permitting the domestic sale of duty-free items that have been on sale for over six months in an effort to alleviate the impact of the pandemic on the troubled aviation and tourism sectors.

By Yim Hyun-su (