Sitting in entrance of an iPad with a lineup of natural sore-throat cures behind him, Ryuta Fujii, president of pharmaceutical firm Ryukakusan Co., is listening to Chinese language prospects’ questions over a livestream.
From Ryukakusan’s headquarters in Tokyo, Fujii broadcasts his “reside e-commerce” manufacturing, selecting up merchandise and explaining particulars about them, with all the pieces concurrently interpreted into Chinese language by colleagues seated subsequent to him.
He responds on to questions from viewers who can instantly buy merchandise they want with a click on on his retailer hosted by a platform owned by Chinese language e-commerce large Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., which additionally gives the livestream service.
Via the showcase, sellers can introduce their merchandise and reply questions from consumers in actual time.
Ryukakusan has begun reaching out to customers in China, the place e-commerce is massive enterprise, with the variety of inbound vacationers to Japan having nosedived as a consequence of journey restrictions amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“It was a refreshingly new expertise. I didn’t know so many Chinese language prospects knew our merchandise,” stated Fujii, the eighth president of the greater than century-old family-run drugmaker. “I used to be completely happy to straight hear that they stated our merchandise are good they usually wish to purchase extra.”
Reside e-commerce is “a extremely efficient advertising instrument” to seize Chinese language prospects at a time when journey bans are nonetheless in place in lots of components of the world due to the virus outbreak, in addition to to study what they consider Ryukakusan merchandise, he added.
The corporate’s mainstay, Ryukakusan finely powdered natural cures for sore throats, coughs and different throat illnesses, are among the many hottest objects that Chinese language vacationers purchase when visiting Japan, a lovely vacation spot for consumers who sometimes view merchandise within the nation as protected and of superior high quality.
Ryukakusan final yr arrange its first flagship store on Alibaba’s cross-border e-commerce platform Tmall World, and has generally discovered China’s high magnificence influencers, together with Li Jiaqi, generally known as the “King of Lipstick,” to assist promote its merchandise.
To spice issues up, Fujii generally even breaks out his flute throughout occasions to serenade his prospects.
Reside e-commerce, a livestream just like TV procuring channels typically hosted by product-promoting influencers or web celebrities, has change into more and more fashionable in China over the previous 4 years.
Citing information compiled by worldwide accounting firm KPMG and Alibaba’s analysis arm AliResearch, the Japan Exterior Commerce Group, a government-backed group that promotes commerce, stated in October that China’s reside e-commerce market is estimated to develop to 2 trillion yuan ($309 billion) in 2021.
With inbound demand having evaporated as a consequence of COVID-19 entry bans on overseas vacationers, and home demand remaining sluggish as individuals keep at dwelling, different Japanese corporations have began to promote merchandise to Chinese language customers through livestreaming to plug their income gap and to drive future progress.
For instance, cosmetics maker Shiseido Co. is increasing its e-commerce presence in China after make-up demand tanked at dwelling as many ladies started teleworking and sporting masks when exterior their properties.
The corporate performed its first abroad livestream through Tmall World for Alibaba’s Singles Day sale, normally held on Nov. 11 and generally known as “Double 11,” one of many world’s largest annual 24-hour on-line procuring occasions, which generated 498.2 billion yuan in complete gross sales final yr.
Greater than 300,000 viewers tuned into Shiseido’s livestream for its complete make-up model “Maquillage,” rating first amongst corporations that livestreamed in the identical time slot and opened on-line flagship shops in 2020, in keeping with Shiseido.
Japanese corporations are additionally hoping to pitch reside e-commerce to home prospects. Nonetheless, few Japanese customers are acquainted sufficient with the procuring technique, prompting some main e-commerce corporations, corresponding to flea market app operator Mercari Inc., to finish their costly reside e-commerce service.
“The variety of home corporations utilizing livestreaming is growing because of the virus outbreak, however most of them initially purpose to strengthen their model picture fairly than rising gross sales,” stated Kazunori Kawai of Mitsubishi UFJ Analysis and Consulting.
However Kawai stated he thinks reside e-commerce will finally change into fashionable and the market will broaden long run.
“I don’t assume Japanese individuals are unsuited to watching movies and shopping for. Nonetheless, in relation to reside e-commerce, consciousness amongst individuals remains to be not very excessive,” he stated, including that the strategy could also be thought of a poor substitute for TV dwelling procuring, whereas individuals are likely to hesitate in shopping for merchandise touted by unfamiliar influencers.
“It would change into fashionable when it turns into extra widespread and folks can discover influencers (with merchandise) that match their wants,” Kawai stated.
As a part of efforts to encourage the unfold of reside e-commerce, Dentsu Tec Inc., a subsidiary of Japan’s greatest promoting company Dentsu Inc., launched in October the “Influencer Commerce Answer” service.
It helps the growth of gross sales via reside e-commerce by utilizing influencers rather than entrepreneurs who battle to advertise long-term gross sales, and model consciousness and loyalty, in the long term.
Shiseido additionally launched reside e-commerce for home customers final yr when individuals’s lives and procuring habits have been drastically modified by the pandemic. It’s anticipated the corporate will concentrate on increasing the service sooner or later.
“We are going to proceed to work on reside e-commerce in Japan and abroad to fulfill the buying wants of our prospects and to find new prospects,” stated Mana Koide, a Shiseido spokeswoman.
Hideki Tanaka of the Fujitsu Future Research Heart stated the Japanese reside e-commerce market’s problem is getting extra individuals concerned and creating content material that may maintain them engaged.
“In case you solely communicate in a one-sided method, that might be no totally different from TV procuring,” Tanaka stated. “Utilizing the web means you possibly can talk, so it’s essential do things like responding shortly for those who obtain questions.”
Ryukakusan’s Fujii additionally pressured the significance of interactivity in promoting merchandise to customers.
“I feel we must always at all times be looking out for brand new enterprise improvement,” he stated. “I see important progress potential in reside e-commerce because it allows us to work together with precise prospects so shortly and straight,” he stated.
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