Amazon and Streaming E-Commerce
There has been a new e-commerce trend in China I have been watching, and it is an evolution of social commerce. The trend is individual influencers live streaming e-commerce events. Social commerce is already much bigger in China than it is in the US. Influencers are used to talking about products and using their social mediums to promote products and services. In China, it was a natural evolution to bring a live component to the social commerce experience.
Influencers in China are using all kinds of tactics to promote and sell products live, and one includes integrating the flash sale concept. Meaning, offering a limited quantity of an item, sometimes even limited edition, and creating a sense of urgency to purchase a unique item not many people will have a chance of owning. In many ways, this is a modern evolution of the home shopping network using many of the same elements to sell goods.
The market in China is massive for social commerce, and live streaming e-commerce is rapidly growing. Estimates are that in 2020 alone, 570mmn users will participate in social e-commerce. Streaming e-commerce in China is growing at a rate of 71% annually. Live streaming e-commerce is easily one of the fastest-growing trends in China, and Amazon may just be making it easier for the same trend to grow in the US and other parts of Europe.
Amazon announced Amazon Live. Here are some key details of Amazon Live:
Amazon is giving live streamers a new way to earn commissions on purchases of products showcased in their streams. The company is today adding live streaming to its existing Amazon Influencer Program, which before today, allowed social media influencers to earn money by pointing fans to their favorite Amazon products through posts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.
Though Amazon already catered to video creators through the program, the new live-streaming option is focused on its own Amazon Live service. A sort of modern-day version of QVC that streams directly on Amazon’s shopping site, Amazon Live launched last year as the retailer’s latest effort to attract consumers by way of live video.
To broadcast to Amazon Live, video creators, and now, influencers use the Amazon Live Creator app to live stream and chat with viewers as they show off the products to be shopped. On the Amazon Live homepage, fans can also chat with the host and one another in a Twitch-like side panel next to the live video.
As with many trends that come from China, there is always a question on if it will come to the west and with the same success as it has in China. The same questions exist for live streaming e-commerce, but Amazon making it easy for this trend to succeed will help.
Slack Files EU Antitrust Complaint Against Microsoft
Up until today, Microsoft has been able to stay out of the anti-trust conversation. Slack announced on their blog, they have filed a complaint claiming Microsoft is illegally tying Teams to office. A few key statements from the post:
The complaint details Microsoft’s illegal and anti-competitive practice of abusing its market dominance to extinguish competition in breach of European Union competition law. Microsoft has illegally tied its Teams product into its market-dominant Office productivity suite, force installing it for millions, blocking its removal, and hiding the true cost to enterprise customers.
“We’re confident that we win on the merits of our product, but we can’t ignore illegal behavior that deprives customers of access to the tools and solutions they want,” said Jonathan Prince, Vice President of Communications and Policy at Slack. “Slack threatens Microsoft’s hold on business email, the cornerstone of Office, which means Slack threatens Microsoft’s lock on enterprise software.”
While commentators on Twitter were quick to throw CEO Stewart Butterfields comments that Microsoft is not a competitor back at him. I do, technically, agree with Stewart that Slack is an additive solution to Office that it many ways makes Office more effective. Microsoft Teams is also more of a video meeting platform, that shines when collaborating in real-time where Slack is more about asynchronous collaboration than synchronous collaboration.
The reality is Slack loses out not having a video conferencing solution, and Teams loses out by only have chat that works best chatting while you are on a video meeting. In many ways, the solutions are complementary, but both are competing for valuable productivity hours from workers.
I posted this on Twitter, but it is an interesting thought to wonder if Slack is like Netscape in many ways. Netscape was the browser of choice for many during the Internet boom. They were early with a great browser, but then as Microsoft bundled Internet Explorer the anti-trust issues hit. Microsoft still won the battle as Internet Explorer completely displaced Netscape.
I go back to Slack’s statement that they are confident they can win on the merits of their product. This is a better focus of their time and efforts than trying to battle Microsoft in court. The best product will win, and any distraction from Slack could end up leaving them blindsided as Microsoft has a chance with Teams to compete on the merit of the product just as much as Slack does.
Similarly, if Slack has a claim against Microsoft, they should be worried about Google. And if Slack has a claim, then so would Box and DropBox conceivably as Microsoft Bundles One Drive and Google bundles Google Drive.
Ultimately Slack should be worried they are primarily a chat solution and do not offer a wider range of products. This is already a competitive challenge against companies who do have a suite of solutions and, ultimately why you could argue Slack is much closer to Netscape in reality. Let’s hope they don’t suffer the same fate.