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Live video shopping firm Bambuser buys influencer marketing agency

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By Anna Ringstrom

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) – Swedish live video shopping technology provider Bambuser has agreed to buy influencer marketing agency Relatable to help it stand out among competitors on a global market set to boom.

The new retail channel has already taken off in China and is starting to grow in Europe and North America as shoppers move online. Retailers’ interest has soared during the pandemic.

Bambuser, the shares of which have grown 335% in the past year alone, said in a statement on Monday it was buying Relatable for $24 million.

Such agencies help consumer brands market products on social platforms such as Instagram, Tik-Tok and Youtube, including by identifying influencers with the right target groups.

Bambuser CEO Maryam Ghahremani told Reuters retailers wanting to offer livestream shopping faced two main challenges: who should host the broadcast, and how to direct shoppers to it.

“Relatable are very good at this,” she said of the company that also brings in technology to search influencers to host such live online shows.

“We see this acquisition as a way to accelerate growth,” she added, declining to say when her company should break even.

Bambuser’s sales rose 844% year-on-year in the first quarter, with monthly recurring revenue up 550% as it converted many pilots into long-term contracts.

The start-up had an operating loss of 55.6 million Swedish crowns ($6.66 million) in the first three months of the year.

Markets such as Japan, Singapore and South Korea have started to get a better feel for the channel while in the West the phenomenon is still new, Ghahremani said.

“This is still in early stages: very much an exploration phase with tests and evaluations,” she said, adding that some customers do see big sales impacts already.

Relatable and Bambuser co-operated in the past and both count Samsung, Ted Baker and Klarna among customers.

The average number of viewers of shows is rising, as is the time people spend watching, the CEO said: “I think we will see a much wider adoption of live video shopping as a channel early or in the middle of next year.”

In the first quarter, Bambuser did nearly 3,000 broadcasts with an “add to cart” click rate of 14%.

Ghahremani said Bambuser, present in 44 markets, had no plans to enter China, where livestream shopping has rapidly become a must-do for retailers and where Alibaba’s Taobao dominates the market.

(Reporting by Anna Ringstrom; editing by Niklas Pollard and Gabriela Baczynska)

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