After TikTok earlier, it is now Facebook’s turn to end its live shopping function. While it has been a hit in Asia for years, the phenomenon proves much less popular in the West.
Still on Instagram
As of 1 October, companies and influencers can no longer broadcast live shopping videos on Facebook. These broadcasts allow brands or retailers to present products, and viewers can directly order what is shown. The system can be compared to the TV shopping of the past, but in a digital format. Facebook first launched the feature in 2018.
Last summer, the Meta platform tried to raise awareness with “Live Shopping Fridays”, in which brands such as Abercrombie & Fitch, Bobbi Brown, Clinique and Sephora participated, but it never really caught on. Last autumn, Facebook made one last attempt to engage influencers, making it possible to live stream the same show on a brand’s page and an influencer’s page simultaneously. After that plan failed as well, Facebook is now giving up.
Instead, the social networking app wants to focus on Reels, short videos like the ones TikTok made popular. Live streaming is still possible, but it will no longer be possible to tag products on Facebook. Instagram, however, will keep live shopping: businesses can tag products in Reels and Live Shopping on Instagram continues to exist. Clearly, Meta is emphasising Instagram as a sales channel, while disconnecting Facebook from shopping.
TikTok gave up first
Facebook is not the first social medium to abandon live shopping in the West. Recently, TikTok has already discontinued live shopping in the United Kingdom, where the Chinese platform was conducting a trial. The intention was to expand the Shop feature to the United States and mainland Europe at a later date, but it never came to that: influencers soon gave up because they did not have enough viewers.
This forms a huge contrast to the popularity of live shopping on the Chinese market, where it generates some sixty billion dollars in annual sales as more than two thirds of Chinese people use it. When retailers and brands had to look for new digital ways to reach people during lockdowns, Western companies also gave it a go. Yet today, the concept is struggling to take off.