Union Square Ventures invests in livestream marketplace ShopShops, reflecting shifting perceptions of live video commerce in the U.S.

What happened

  • Union Square Ventures (USV) invested in ShopShops, a global and interactive livestream marketplace founded in China in 2016. ShopShops’s online platform connects consumers with retailers and brands in real time, as well as encourages shopper-to-shopper communication. To do so, ShopShops hosts visit physical stores, showcasing and discussing products, which viewers can purchase through the service.

Why it matters

  • USV’s investment will help more companies in ShopShops’ network compete with Amazon, accessing the burgeoning field of live video to fostering closer relations with customers. The venture capital firm’s interest in ShopShops also speaks to shifting perceptions of live video commerce in the U.S., where businesses have yet to harness livestream as it is utilized in the Chinese consumer market. Brands and retailers that livestream not only meet the growing pool of customers on their phones and laptops, but also foster a more personalized shopping experience in which shoppers can connect to a personality they know and like. Using a seasoned host to visit stores and speak about products, ShopShops live video unites entertainment with ecommerce, which can be extremely valuable for the companies to evade overt commerciality, using the tool to target their core customer base.
  • Part of the livestream delay in the U.S. is linked to the lack of digital infrastructure to support this type of ecommerce. But with ShopShops, which takes care of payment, fulfillment and logistics, brands and retailers that partner with it in the U.S. will be able to access these services. Live video and ecommerce are widely used by Chinese consumers—not only does it permit seamless mobile transactions, but it also opens up their purchasing power to products in foreign markets.