Chinese c-to-c marketplace Taobao‘s live-streaming e-commerce unit, Taobao Live, is making a major impact when it comes to buoying online spending on the platform during leaner economic times. According to a recent report in Barron’s, one in every five customers that click to view a product’s landing page through live streaming ends up buying — a conversion rate of 20 percent.

Alibaba-owned Taobao is aiming to expand its live-streaming business to 10 product categories with an annual sales volume of more than 100 million RMB (around $15 million U.S.) each. It will also add 200 Taobao live-stream virtual shopping rooms with an annual transaction value of 100 million RMB each, Wen Zhong, director of Taobao’s content e-commerce department, announced at the Taobao Live Gala in April.

Taobao Live has launched a live-streamer development program to provide professional training for up to 1,000 live-streamers across multiple platforms and areas. The goal for the program in 2019 is to produce ten content creators with their own shows that generate annual sales volume of 100 million RMB each, in partnership with 100 regional television stations, according to the company.

“Taobao Live could be an important tool to connect new retail and new manufacturing. Live-stream-enabled e-commerce… helps to integrate traditional offline shopping malls with the Taobao ecosystem,” Zhao Yuanyuan, operating head of Taobao Live, said.

Although growth in live-streaming is slowing in China, there has been increased uptake of the technology as a new marketing channel for e-commerce. On Taobao, live-streaming-generated sales volume surpassed 100 billion RMB in 2018, growing nearly 400 percent year-on-year.

Taobao continues to diversify beyond its origins as a c-to-c marketplace — particularly after being repeatedly named as one of the world’s “notorious markets” for counterfeiting by the U.S. Trade Representative over the past few years. It’s begun making preliminary moves toward a major push into the used auto market, inking a total of three separate deals with Guazi, Uxin, and Souche.com — some of the biggest names in used auto trading in China.

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