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Community Blog How to Build a Live Shopping Platform on Alibaba Cloud with Ant Media Server

How to Build a Live Shopping Platform on Alibaba Cloud with Ant Media Server

Discover how Ant Media Server can help you easily set up a live shopping platform on Alibaba Cloud.

By Ant Media

What Is Live Shopping?

Live shopping gives sellers the ability to showcase their products, and customers the ability to get instant feedback, answers, and of course buy products in real-time.

As an example, QVC, a home shopping channel, has made a great influence on the introduction of live shopping into our lives. QVC made a huge splash since it successfully combined socializing, entertainment and shopping. QVC customers enjoyed the shopping process and interacting with their favorite host.

When you think about it, live stream shopping is in a way bringing the age-old practice of home shopping into modern times. The concept remains the same, it's just the channel that's different.

Live streaming viewers can learn more about the product by leaving comments, asking questions to the publisher, just like on Instagram, Facebook or YouTube live videos. The live shopping experience is just like our social media usage. The viewers can even share their experiences with other viewers. Sellers can guide viewers in their purchasing decisions by projecting reviews and recommendations on the screen.

Instead of simply “liking” a product promoted by your favorite influencers, you can talk to them about the product and buy it directly.

It has become quite popular again, especially in Asia. Chinese consumers and sellers are way ahead of the trend already. In fact, the live commerce market in the country accounts for more than 10% of the entire e-commerce market.

Other parts of the world have also started to take an interest in live commerce. seeing successful startups, especially in America and Europe.

The number of live shopping initiatives will increase and it will become a very large domain. There are great opportunities for entrepreneurs.

Benefits of Live Shopping

The rate of adoption to live shopping is going to increase in 2022. Of the brands surveyed in the Forrester research, 49% of brands plan to increase their investment in social commerce in 2022, with 81% planning to either increase or maintain investment in live shopping to drive sales.

Unique Shopping Experience and Higher Engagement Rate

The biggest benefit of live commerce is that it gives the audience a unique shopping and entertainment experience and it increases the engagement rate regardless of location. If it was a good live stream, the image of the brand will remain in the minds of the audience, even if they do not buy it at that time.

Provides Quick Purchase

When viewers see other people buying products in livestream, they are more likely to buy too. It is a kind of social proof. It can also create the fear of missing out (FOMO) on viewers.

Lower Return Rates

The reasons for the return of the viewers who asked what they were curious about during the broadcast and received sufficient answers will also decrease. According to Coresight data, live shoppers are 40% less likely to return an item than other online shoppers.

Makes Unsold Products More Attractive

With live events, you can show the underperforming products directly to the audience, and even make them more attractive. If you are in the clothing industry, you can use it as a fashion show for sale.

What You Need to Know Before Building It?

The most important requirement for building a live shopping platform is a media server. To choose the right vendor, you should know what features you need. Let's look at them.

Real-time latency: For high engagement, you need to provide ultra-low latency. Otherwise, in the delayed streams, viewers cannot receive timely answers to their questions, interaction decreases, a real-like shopping experience, and effective communication cannot be established.

Scalability: Your platform can be used for many small live shopping streams or rather large ones. You need a scalable media server to handle your streams and viewers.

Adaptive bitrate: It provides the best video quality and viewer experience possible regardless of connection, device, or software. It is a technique for dynamically adjusting the compression level and video quality of a stream to match bandwidth availability.

SDKs: We now spend most of our time online on mobile. It makes a big difference if the media server you choose has SDK support.

It should also support the following:

One-to-many live video shopping means streaming to multiple viewers at once. This type of event typically showcases products and features a host, guest appearances, and special promotions.

One-to-one live video shopping means having a one on one session with a single customer. This type of live video shopping is best suited to customers making larger purchases that require professional expertise and insight.

Embedding allows you to host your stream on your website.

How to Build Your Own Live Shopping Platform on Alibaba Cloud Using Ant Media Server

Ant Media Server can help you with all these needs. It powers live shopping platforms with 0.5-second latency, adaptive streaming, high scalability, and hence high engagement. In addition, with its adaptive bitrate feature, it sends the highest quality possible stream to the viewers according to their connection quality. Thus, it offers uninterrupted streaming while shopping without buffering. Thanks to its high scalability, it can scale seamlessly to thousands or even millions of viewers.

Getting Started for Ultra Low Latency Streaming Service on Alibaba Cloud

Here is the system outline

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Let's start with brief definitions

  • MongoDB Database Server: Ant Media Server uses MongoDB in clustering. Streams information are saved to MongoDB so that edge instances can learn any stream's origin node.
  • Load Balancer: Load Balancer is the entrance point for the publishers and players. Load Balancer accepts the requests from publishers or players and forwards the requests to the available node in the cluster.
  • Origin Auto-Scalable Group: Nodes (Instances) in the origin group accepts the publish requests and ingest the incoming WebRTC stream. When an origin instance accepts a WebRTC stream, it saves the related information to the MongoDB Database Server. There may be one node or multiple node in origin group. It may even be manually or auto scalable. In our deployment, it's auto-scalable in Alibaba Cloud.
  • Edge Auto-Scalable Group: Node (Instances) in the edge group accepts the play requests. Then it learns from MongoDB which origin node has the related stream. After that it gets the stream from related origin node and sends the stream to the player.

Then continue with installing MongoDB Server

Step 1: Install MongoDB Server

The procedure below shows how to start an instance in Alibaba Cloud Elastic Compute Service as well. In other words, if you have no experience with Alibaba Cloud, you can install MongoDB Server as follows. If you know how to start an instance in Alibaba Cloud, just skip to Install MongoDB to Your Instance.

  • Sign up to Alibaba Cloud if you don't have an account yet. Login to Alibaba Cloud Console. Then click Elastic Compute Service as shown in the image below.

2

  • Click Create Instance.

3

  • Select Billing model and Instance type according to your use case.

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  • Choose Instance Type like General Purpose Type g7 series.

    • You may optionally choose a bigger instance according to your streaming load.

Search for Ubuntu and Select Ubuntu 18.04 and Click Next button

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  • Create a VPC and security group

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You need to have VPC and security groups for creating MongoDB instance. If you already have VPC and Security Group options, you can skip Create VPC and Create Security Group parts.

Create VPC

  • Go to Elastic Compute Service / Network & Security / Virtual Private Cloud section and click Create VPC button.

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  • Fill Name and IPv4 CIDR Block parameters.

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  • You need to have 2 vSwitch for loadbalancing mechanism. Fill vSwitch Name, Zone and IPv4 CIDR Block parameters.

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Create Security Group

  • Go to Elastic Compute Service / Network & Security / Security Groups section and click Create Security Group button.

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  • Add 22 and 27017 TCP ports as follows in the image.

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  • Go back to creating instance steps.

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  • You need to create an SSH key. If you already created an SSH key, you can skip this step.

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  • After creating the SSH key, just click Create Instance button

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  • Login your instance with the public IP address using a created SSH key.
  • You should be able to connect to your instance. To connect your instance, open a terminal and run a command something like. Change {YOUR_KEY_FILE} and {INSTANCE_PUBLIC_IP} with your own credentials.
ssh -i {YOUR_KEY_FILE} root@{INSTANCE_PUBLIC_IP}

Install MongoDB to Your Instance

  • After you get connected, run the following commands in order to install MongoDB to your instance.
wget -qO - https://www.mongodb.org/static/pgp/server-4.2.asc | sudo apt-key add -
echo "deb [ arch=amd64 ] https://repo.mongodb.org/apt/ubuntu `lsb_release -cs`/mongodb-org/4.2 multiverse" | sudo tee /etc/apt/sources.list.d/mongodb-org-4.2.list
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install -y mongodb-org
  • Open /etc/mongod.conf file with an editor like nano and change bind_ip value to 0.0.0.0 to let MongoDB accept connections in all interfaces and save it.
sudo nano /etc/mongod.conf

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Press Ctrl + X to save the file.

Restart mongod and enable service.

sudo systemctl restart mongod
sudo systemctl enable mongod.service

Now, MongoDB installation is complete. Just save your MongoDB instance's local address somewhere. We will use it in later.

Step 2: Install Scalable Origin Group

  • Click Deployment & Elasticity > Auto Scaling and Click Create button.

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You need to have a Launch template for creating Instances. If you already have the Launch template, you can skip Create a Launch Template parts.

Create a Launch Template

  • Click “Deployment & Elasticity > Launch Template” and Click “Create Template” button.

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  • Select Ant Media Marketplace image, VPC network and click Assign Public IPv4 Address as follows.

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  • Select Ant Media Server Enterprise Edition as follows.

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  • Select/create Security Group as follows.

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  • Select VPC Network and click Next Advanced Configurations

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  • Add SSH key pair, Instance name and User Data details as follows. Right now, copy the text below, change the “{MongoIP}” field with the MongoDB IP Address in the script and paste it to the “User data”.
#!/bin/bash
cd /usr/local/antmedia
./change_server_mode.sh cluster {MongoIP}

After that Click Confirm Complete Configuration

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  • Take a look at Launch Template and click Confirm Template Configuration.

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  • Go back to Create Scaling Group steps and use created Launch Template.

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  • Set Minimum Number of Instances, Maximum Number of Instances and Expected Number of Instances and Default Cooldown Time (Seconds) as follows.

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  • Set VPC, Select vSwitch and Create Associated ALB Server Group

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  • Set Server Group Name and VPC fields as follows.

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  • Go back to Create Scaling Group steps and select created Server Group as follows.

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  • Click Enable the scaling group text as follows.

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  • Enable Autoscaling as follows.

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Step 3: Install Scalable Edge Group

Installing scalable edge group is almost same as scalable origin group. Please go to Step 2: Install Scalable Origin Group and do the same things one more time. Just don't forget to change some namings (for instance give group name as Edge Group) and configure scaling policy and instance type according to your needs. If you have any question or problem with this, please let us know through contact@antmedia.io

Step 4: Install Load Balancer

  • Click the Server Load Balancer > ALB > Instances on Alibaba Cloud Products and Services and Click the Create ALB Instance button.

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  • Fill in the fields as follows.

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  • You need to add listeners to load balancers.

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  • You need to have SSL. But there is no need to buy certificate. Just click Buy Certificate text.

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  • After clicking Buy Certificate button, click on the Upload Certificate button and upload your custom certificate. You can get free let's encrypt SSL with https://zerossl.com service for free or use Alibaba Cloud's Certificate Management Service for extra security.

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  • Just add created Server group.

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  • Add listeners ports to origin/edge groups.

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- Right now Everything is ok. Now let's give a brief information about the difference between publish and play. In our load balancer configuration, we forward HTTP (80) and HTTPS (443) to Origin Group and we forward HTTP (5080) and HTTPS (5443) to Edge Group. It means that we should connect 80 or 443 ports to publish and connect 5080 or 5443 to play streams. Otherwise, play requests goes to origin group and publish request goes to edge group and it's likely create some performance issues according to your configurations.

Logging to Web Panel

You can login to web panel via the https://your-domain-name/. After these steps, you just need to add your domain address CNAME to your Load Balancer URL. You just need to register a first user!

Test Run

  • For publishing please visit the https://your-domain-name/WebRTCAppEE/ and click “Start Publishing” button. The default stream id is “stream1”
  • For playing please visit the https://your-domain-name:5443/WebRTCAppEE/ and click “Start Playing” button. The default stream will be played
  • As you figure out, we connect default https port (443) for publishing and 5443 port for playing. Because we configure load balancer to forward default port (443) to origin group and 5443 to edge group.

As the installation is a bit long, If you're stuck in somewhere, please reach out to us to make the installation together.

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