What Happened: A new player is joining this year’s “Double 11” e-commerce battle: Bilibili (also known as B Station). Ahead of China’s biggest shopping bonanza, the 13-year-old video sharing site officially launched a livestreaming shopping function.
At present, Bilibili’s live broadcast rooms offer products from its self-operated stores (digital collectibles, virtual clothing, membership purchases) and those from Alibaba’s Taobao and JD.com. For items from third-party suppliers (such as Dyson, Xiaomi, and L’Oréal), shoppers need to click and jump to an external page to complete the purchase. This tactic was also adopted by short video apps Douyin and Kuaishou in the early stage of livestreaming development to save on supply chain expenses. But given the fierce competition, can Bilibili make a dent in sector?
The Jing Take: Bilibili has already experienced two consecutive quarters of revenue decline in 2022 after once being hailed as a Chinese tech star. As it aims to reach profitability by 2024, the tech giant urgently needs to turn losses into gains. And with China’s livestreaming market expected to reach $85 billion (624 billion RMB) by 2023, it is no wonder B station joined this field to diversify and provide new growth points.
To grow its livestream army, Bilibili has lowered the threshold for video uploaders to host their own live broadcast rooms: they must be at least 18 years old, have at least 1,000 fans, and possess broadcast records from the past four years. This means that most of the platform’s 3.6 million active content creators can begin to take part in livestream e-commerce. The company also launched incentives to encourage more users to take part; for example, top anchors/sellers can receive up to $6,850 (50,000 RMB) as reward.
Yet, as a latecomer to the game, Bilibili does not have any evident advantages compared to existing players in the field such as Taobao and JD.com. From a price perspective, Bilibili relies on products from third-party platforms, which means its price points are sometimes less competitive than other e-tailers. Hence, until it has full control of the supply chain and commodities, Bilibili may be less appealing to shoppers and less buzzworthy to livestream anchors.
Overall, there is still a long way to go before B Station can pull ahead of the livestreaming race. It will be tantalizing to see how the video-sharing site will fare during Double 11 shopping festival. At the moment, brands shall wait and see.
The Jing Take reports on a piece of the leading news and presents our editorial team’s analysis of the key implications for the luxury industry. In the recurring column, we analyze everything from product drops and mergers to heated debate sprouting on Chinese social media.