Meta Bails on Live Stream Shopping Platforms, Leaving UK Businesses a Huge Gap to Fill

Image by Webster2703 from Pixabay

Meta Platforms, Inc. – the company formerly known as Facebook, Inc. – is a social media and virtual reality goliath. However, in a somewhat peculiar move, Meta has now opted out of the high-ceiling social space of live eCommerce.

Not only has its Facebook platform seen its live stream shopping arm get shut down in recent months, but by 16 March 2023, Instagram’s live shopping section will also be closed. Products won’t be able to be tagged during live streams, and the tab has already been taken from the app. This move marks a backtrack on a pursuit that broadly launched in the US in 2020.

It’s being billed as part of Meta’s big “year of efficiency,” following hundreds of millions being invested in the Metaverse project and Big Tech’s rounds of autumn firings to level the books. Still, it doesn’t mean that live eCommerce or other live streaming applications in business don’t boast a tremendous amount of potential in the UK and the US.

Bowing out to leave a huge piece of the market

The new age of eCommerce is all about social and live shopping, and Instagram just so happens to be one of the biggest platforms for one of the most coveted demographics. In the UK, nearly 40 per cent of online shoppers in the Gen Z bracket used Instagram Shopping to buy products, powered by image sharing. Millennials have also taken to social media-based shopping, with 34 per cent using Instagram.

Live shopping takes the social shopping experience to the next level, streaming an expert or seller directly to viewers to answer products, perform demos, and even offer FOMO-inducing offers along the way. YouTube has recently paired with Shopify to empower its live shopping arm, but in July 2022, it was reported that TikTok plans to give up on pushing live shopping in western markets.

Meta’s move isn’t unusual, it seems, among major social platforms, and while live eCommerce hasn’t taken root on this side of the world as quickly as it did in the Asia Pacific, there are good signs that it will. Live streaming as an activity is still very popular in the UK and US, with the success of Twitch, in particular, being good proof of this.

Live streaming has also been integrated into other entertainment products, such as those at the online casino Ireland hosts. Here, the likes of Roulette Live, Crazy Time, and Boom City all command large audiences for real-time betting. Users enjoy the live-stream experience as an alternative to in-person gambling, which was the appeal of live-stream shopping during it’s peak.

UK businesses can exploit the growing gap in the market


Photo by BRUNO on Unsplash

Live shopping is a proven formula in China, and increasingly in its neighbour nations. Once a business cracks the particular wants and needs of European, British, and US customers, it won’t take long for it to take off here. We’ve seen Condense Reality raise £3.7 million to deliver live-streamed events to the Metaverse, as well as some eCommerce firms tentatively extend to live shopping., for example, has events of live shopping Brits can partake in, using the tech to connect shoppers to stylists, celebrities, and influencers to get talked through trends and products. M&S, Ted Baker, and Snug Sofa have also set up live shopping events in the recent past, and Samsung Live hosts special guests to explore new products at UK-friendly times – at the time of writing, the next live event will start at 5 pm on 16 February.

As major brands step away from live eCommerce, there’s space for UK brands to double down and present a Brit-focussed slate of live-streamed shopping events to become cemented as the place to go for the immersive experience.