By 10 a.m., hundreds of shoppers had lined up outside the Shanghai New World Department Store on May 1, early birds to a citywide shopping festival timed to encourage consumer spending in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
And spend they did. By 3 p.m., the department store counted more than 100,000 visitors and registered a more than 500% increase in sales from the day before. Shoppers thronged other department stores that participated in the festival.
What set this sale apart, though, was the active involvement of e-commerce platform Pinduoduo (PDD), which helped mobilize the interest of its almost 600 million users nationwide through the livestreaming of store tours, product demonstrations and other promotional activities.
Take the Shanghai New World Daimaru for example. Situated in the historic Bund area, the department store has always been popular with shoppers for its extensive range of cosmetics and deeply knowledgeable counter staff.
By opening its first online flagship store on PDD and livestreaming makeup lessons from its shop floor, for instance, New World Daimaru was able to break free of the geographical constraints of physical retail and attract potential customers from other parts of China.
The strength of physical retailers at customer service can also help e-commerce platforms improve their own user experience.
This was part of the thinking behind PDD’s recent investment in GOME Retail, the home appliance and lifestyle goods giant. As part of the strategic partnership, GOME will integrate its logistics and after-sales customer care, including installation and repair services, with PDD.
For the May shopping festival, teams from PDD will be working with sales staff at key GOME stores to livestream activities such as lucky draws and product demos to PDD’s online users.
By having livestreaming sales staff explaining the features of products and answering queries in real time, online consumers are able to make purchase decisions with more confidence even though they may not be at the store.
For brands and merchants, there is the added advantage of being able to use their own staff to promote their products, instead of hiring influencers who may not know much about the products to hawk them online.
This is also in line with PDD’s livestreaming philosophy of putting experts in front of the consumer.