This article was originally published in Chinese on Momentum Works’s WeChat account, translated into English by the team. 

A couple of days ago, a notice from Facebook circulated around the ecommerce ecosystem. The title is “Facebook live shopping will be going away on 1 October 2022“. You can read the details here:

Users (we presume these refer to sellers) are encouraged to use the live shopping function of Instagram, which works in the following way:

Confusing message

Many friends did not quite get what the first notice was actually referring to – especially in parts of Southeast Asia where a lot of people depended on selling on Facebook for their income.

In fact, the product being sunset (or sunsetted?) is the test version similar to TikTok Shop. But the test, as far as we understand, was really limited to just North America. It has never been rolled out in Southeast Asia.

Although this is another sign of Meta’s half-heartedness in capturing the ecommerce revenue from its massive (albeit decreasing) consumer traffic.

In Southeast Asia, all three platforms of Meta (Facebook, Instagram and Whatsapp) have been used extensively as sales tools: in Thailand and the Philippines, many people are using Facebook groups and Facebook Marketplace to earn extra bucks; and Indonesian influencers, celebrities and brands have used Instagram to promote, and Whatsapp to take orders. Also in Indonesia, a lot of people also use Whatsapp groups to promote products especially in cosmetics and skincare.

Evolving ecosystem

In Momentum Works’ Live Commerce in Southeast Asia report released in April 2022, we pointed out that the best platforms to leverage live commerce are Facebook and Instagram, because of their active user numbers:

However, Facebook (Meta now) seems unwilling or unable to organise these sales activities already happening at their platforms and monetise from them. As a result, a layer of enablers / service providers (incl. Upmesh and Shopline) emerged:

Deep(er) impact

We are curious whether Facebook giving up on Live Shopping now is because western consumers are just not taking live shopping up, or because of the organisational and product issues of Facebook itself.

The former will be a big problem for TikTok Shop as well as the future valuation of ByteDance; however, if it is the latter, it will signify a major opportunity.

At least for now, TikTok seems to be very committed to ecommerce in Southeast Asia, even though the sellers are just profiteering from the free traffic and subsidies offered.

Thanks for reading The Low Down (TLD), the blog by the team at Momentum Works. Got a different perspective or have a burning opinion to share? Let us know at [email protected].