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China livestreaming e-commerce industry insights
Si R., Palgrave Macmillan, Cham, Switzerland, 2021. 125 pp.  Type: Book (978-9-811653-43-8)
Date Reviewed: Jun 13 2022

We know the term “TikTok” refers to a form of short videos. But we might not have related it to commerce. In this 100-page book, Ruo Si vividly introduces readers to the essence of the livestreaming e-commerce industry in China. The book reviews the history of livestreaming e-commerce in China, provides a market overview, discusses methods and strategies, and assesses its future and potential risks.

Traditional television engages in commerce in two forms: advertisement in between regular programing, or specialized platforms such as the Home Shopping Network (HSN). While dedicated platforms such as HSN and others are relatively new compared to the history of television, various forms of advertisement embedded in TV programs have long been in existence. Livestreaming e-commerce, however, is a much more recent phenomenon that has been growing explosively since the mid-2010s. It is so new that relatively few among the masses know how it works and how effective it has been. Si’s book provides an excellent introduction to the subject for people who may not be specialized in any of the fields related to this fascinating form of e-commerce.

After discussing how livestreaming short videos such as TikTok came to wide use in e-commerce, the book dives into its eco-environment, technology, social environment, and government regulations. The book then introduces a few best-known “influencers” or hosts of these livestreaming videos, including Zhang Dayi, Li Jiaqi, Viya, Xinba, and others. The next chapter reviews various platforms and strategies used in livestreaming e-commerce and assesses their strengths and challenges. The book concludes with a look into the future of livestreaming video as a platform for e-commerce.

The key takeaway from the book, and from livestreaming short videos for e-commerce in general, is that anyone, with or without special training, can now be a livestreaming short video host. Anyone can thus participate directly in commercial advertisement and selling goods over the Internet, using videos as a tool. This phenomenon fundamentally changes commercial advertisement.

The book provides a rich collection of content using plain language so that everyone can read and understand. It can be either a reference for scholars who study e-commerce or light reading for people who would like to know more about how livestreaming can be used as an e-commerce platform. It is a thoroughly enjoyable read.

Reviewer:  Xiannong Meng Review #: CR147453
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