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For centuries, whether in the bazaars of Istanbul, the market stalls of Peckham, or the Home Shopping Network on cable TV, consumers have always been receptive to a skilled salesperson telling them what they need. On the internet it's no different.
The overwhelming array of things to buy can make standing out in the crowd extremely difficult for brands. That's why many turn to that modern-day market trader, the influencer, to help sell their products via social media.
Amazon thinks it can take this a step further. Its Amazon Live platform is the retailer's big push into what's known as live commerce - live streams with those same influencers talking directly to their followers, giving them the ability to buy their products with the click of a button.
To attract big names Amazon has been offering thousands of dollars in incentives, as well as holding glitzy events to woo the hottest influencers. Of course, those influencers get a cut of everything they sell, such as 3 per cent on baby products, 4 per cent on jewellery, or 10 per cent on luxury fashion.
Amazon's executive responsible for live streams said that he believed it would be the future of online shopping. That certainly seems to already be true in China. One estimate said sales from live streams in the country were set to exceed $430bn in 2022, around 15 per cent of all goods sold online in China.
In the US things have been slightly slower to take off, with around $20bn of expected spend this year, roughly 2 per cent of total e-commerce. But analysts think that could reach almost $70bn per year by 2026.
Amazon isn't necessarily winning that race right now. In one survey US livestream shoppers were more likely to be on services offered by Facebook and YouTube, ahead of Amazon. But Amazon thinks it is well placed to get to the top of that pile, by using events like Prime Day to push its customers towards live commerce.
The two-day discounting event, which this year took place in July, used live streams to offer exclusive deals for those who tuned in. Amazon Live attracted 100mn views over the two days.
Whether its popularity will reach the kind of scale seen in Asia is an unanswered question. It may be that western audiences simply aren't as receptive to the format.
But Amazon and others will certainly try. What makes live commerce so appealing to them is the hope of attracting younger consumers - Gen Z shoppers with a disposable income and a trust in influencers to help guide them to the checkout.