Video-Streaming Firm’s 1,200% Surge Hints at Future of Retail
(Bloomberg) -- After more than a decade of helping reporters broadcast live video, Sweden’s Bambuser AB expanded its technology to shopping a year ago. The decision proved timely as lockdowns sped up the shift online -- the shares have surged 13-fold since.
With so many eyeballs glued to social media, Bambuser’s product allows consumers to select a dress in their size straight off of an influencer’s live feed. Alternatively, an electronics chain may set up a session with employees presenting their gadgets before customers click to purchase, all within the same stream window.
Before the pivot to shopping from news, the firm languished in penny-stock territory for a major part of its publicly listed life. The recent share-price jump means Bambuser is trading above its listing price for the first time since the 2017 offering. Trading on Nasdaq Stockholm’s list for smaller companies, its market value now stands at 1.6 billion kronor ($177 million). Meanwhile, it posted sales of just over 7 million kronor for the first half of 2020.
The demand for services such as live video shopping is part of a bigger trend shift within retail that won’t abate when restrictions are reversed, according to Frida Bratt, a financial adviser at Nordnet AB. Still, she thinks Bambuser’s stock price rise is “uncanny”.
“This is a high-risk stock which has been fueled by expectations,” Bratt said. “Investors have to take into account that an investment, especially at these levels, is a shot in the dark.”
Bambuser was established in 2007, and for the biggest part of its existence it has helped news organizations such as The Associated Press and Finland’s Yle share live video. AP also holds a minority stake in the company.
In addition to the long-term trend of retail migration online, virus-related restrictions for brick-and-mortar retailers forced them to find new ways to reach customers. Bambuser has attracted customers such as Swedish retail giant Hennes & Mauritz AB, Danish beauty chain Matas A/S and online pharmacy Apotea. The company said last week that the U.S. is now its largest market, without naming clients. It also said it had raised $34.5 million in funding during the pandemic.
Shopping via video is already big business in Asia, particularly China. The value of merchandise sold through live streaming in China tripled to 451 billion yuan ($66 billion) last year, and is set to more than double this year, according to Shanghai-based consulting firm iResearch. The share of Chinese online shopping done this way is set to grow to 20% in 2022, compared with 4.5% last year, it said.
Outside of Asia, the field is still relatively new, but the usual suspects are paying attention: Last year, Facebook Inc. bought a small video-shopping startup Packagd to help build a live shopping feature inside the company’s Marketplace product. Amazon.com Inc. has also dipped its toes into live video shopping.
While the technology behind Bambuser’s products is not unique, it is currently the market leader in the Western world within live video shopping, according to Chief Executive Officer Maryam Ghahremani. Bambuser owns all of its technology, which makes it competitive on price, she said in an interview in Stockholm.
The firm is banking on a continued shift in people’s buying behaviors, which increasingly moved online as a result of Covid, she said.
©2020 Bloomberg L.P.