Exploring live selling as a potential sales channel for Shopify

Exploring live selling as a potential sales channel for Shopify



Live selling is a burgeoning form of commerce where merchants sell products through live video streams. This approach fosters a sense of urgency, trust, and emotional connection between shoppers and sellers, resulting in a significantly higher conversion rate compared to traditional marketing. It has gained traction globally, with China leading the way as a $60 billion industry in 2019 and projected to contribute to 20.3% of China's total e-commerce sales by 2022. Major players like Amazon and Facebook are investing in live selling, and Shopify, as the world's largest e-commerce platform, has the potential to tap into this market. To stay competitive, Shopify should invest in offering a top-notch live selling experience for its 1.8 million merchants and allow partners to build live selling solutions on its platform to cater to evolving merchant needs. Ignoring this trend could potentially lead to a decrease in GMV captured through Shopify as merchants seek other solutions to embrace live selling.

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You can read more details and see more visuals in the PDF case study!

My Role

UX Lead

  • Together with other designer, we led this project from start (hackathon proof of concept) to final deliverable (prototype and recommendation deck)
  • Prototyped, designed the interface and experience
  • Planned design sprint
  • Led facilitation of design sprint
  • Led synthesis process
  • Collated insights from immersive sessions
  • Co-wrote Product Brief together with Product Manager
  • Conducted UX Review sessions with leadership


  • Discover opportunities for live selling with/on/within Shopify
  • Prototype and validate proof of concept


Shopify isn’t made for liveselling by default

The core of Shopify is an e-commerce “operating system”. This is complemented by plugging in sales channels. Live selling is a sales channel first, then an e-commerce system.

Lack of awareness within Shopify about potentials of live selling

Even if there is a slight awareness of live selling due to the fact that live streaming is a pretty successful “industry”, mobile-oriented way to sell products aren’t the typical North American culture (where Shopify is from).

Given that our team is in Asia Pacific where live selling is prevalent, we feel that it is our duty to at least investigate into the opportunity it represents.


Design leadership

Bridging design, product and engineering to rally for live selling.


Investigate into or talking to merchants who have done or are interested in live selling, to know their pain points and discover opportunities.

Stakeholder workshop

Team workshop through design sprint session for two days (express edition) with Asia Pacific product team to empathize and discover opportunities.


Investigate and immerse ourselves on live selling

There’s no use in designing for something that we don’t really understand. So we want to make sure we get the hype, we build context and if possible, become passionate with it. This can be done through immersive learning/usage of live selling, as well as some form of desk and real-time research.

Understand the Shopify sales channel experience and ecosystem

We have to understand the limitation and shortcomings of our sales channel ecosystem, before embarking on a roadmap-planning activity, or introducing features. By understanding this, we can be more confident in designing an MVP and how to move forward.

Understanding Shopify merchants and their stance towards live selling

Equally important is that we have to know whether our own merchants actually need live selling. If so, how can we solve their problems?

What we did

Immersive learning

As outlined in the Approach section above, the first step we did was to immerse ourselves in the world of live selling.

From the
From the Case Study: We watched and participated in live selling sessions
From the
From the Case Study: We also observed a Youtube video on how a merchant prepares for live selling, and took note of the journey
From the
From the Case Study: We also tried setting up a live selling session through Facebook

Audit and Research

We did full audit of the adjacent ecosystem, like tools merchants use for capturing comments, setting up stream, and et cetera. We also identified Shopify merchants who are live selling (or are looking forward to it).

From the
From the Case Study: Identified Shopify merchants who are live selling, and interviewing them


We did an express Design Sprint workshop within our team after we gathered initial data

From the
From the Case Study: Activities in the workshop
From the
From the Case Study: Day 2 of the workshop, included drawings of ideas

Final MVP design

We managed to come down to an MVP idea of plugging in a Shopify mini catalog link to a live selling chat. This will be followed up by further integration into the Shopify ecosystem and app, like the Shop app for merchants.

From the
From the Case Study: Future integration with Shop app


Moving forward with alignments and shared vision

Initial discovery and prototyping sessions that fed insights into subsequent projects and initiatives, including partnering with Tiktok later in the year

This allowed outcomes that included:

  • Thinking of how to best accommodate live selling as a channel on Shopify, in the perspective of merchants
  • Awareness of live selling as a channel that is popular in Asia
  • Subsequently partnering with Facebook and Tiktok

Download Case Study

🗂️ Download (PDF)


  • Shek Man Tang, Senior Designer
  • Stephen Tjoa, Designer
  • Rajat Bansal, Senior Developer
  • Tasya Aditya Rukmana, Developer
  • Daniel Lim, Product Manager

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